Syria, UN520, and the UN Security Council


By Ariel Natan Pasko

Gee, I just don’t get it. When Israel ignores a UN resolution, condemnation, or sanction, we’re criticized or worse. When Syria does so, its ‘bumped upstairs’. That is, it’s seated on the UN Security Council and then rewarded with the Presidency of the Council. I just don’t get it.

Since last January, Syria has been a member of the UN Security Council. This past month of June, Syria was appointed Head of the Council, in its rotating Presidium. The appointment to the Security Council is for two years. The rotating presidency lasts for one month. If that sounds as strange to you as it did to me, well, the little bit of good news is that Syria, as Agenda Setter for the Council, didn’t really use its power to persecute Israel anymore than the usual Arab persecution in the UN. But when I first found out they were the presidency for June, I asked myself, “How could this be?”

Since September 17, 1982, Syria has been in violation of UN Security Council Resolution 520, demanding “all non-Lebanese forces” leave Lebanon. Syria has occupied Lebanon since 1976, when they initially intervened in the Lebanese civil war. Syria has killed hundreds of Lebanese leaders since the early 1980’s and then systematically absorbed Lebanon into itself.

Syria, driven by the idea that Lebanon, Jordan and Palestine (also known as Southern Syria), are part of Greater Syria; has worked for almost three decades unhindered, to pacify Lebanon, and make it vanish as an independent state. Daniel Pipes in “Greater Syria: the History of an Ambition,” has written extensively about the Greater Syria ideology that drove Bashar Al-Asad’s father and continues to motivate him.

Where are all the cries of occupation? Why doesn’t the world seem to care about the poor Lebanese? I know that many Lebanese (at risk of death) have protested against the Syrian occupation. I met Lebanese activists in Israel, asking for our help to promote a Free Democratic Lebanon, before Barak’s election in 1999 (and subsequent withdrawal from S. Lebanon). Yet the world is silent. There seems to me to be a double standard here, between how the world gets all bent out of shape over the ‘Palestinians’ and yet ignores the plight of the Syrian-occupied Lebanese (from a real country). Where are all the bleeding hearts claiming violations to the 4th Geneva Convention? Syria you see, has moved over 1 million of its citizens into Lebanon, a clear violation. Many came for jobs in the drug fields of the Beka Valley; protected by the Syrian Army, directed by Rifat Asad (Hafez’s younger brother); a multi-billion dollar drug operation set-up in Lebanon. And yet all this time, for almost 20 years, Syria has flagrantly violated UN SCR 520, and refused to leave Lebanon.

If that were all, it would put Syria in the category of Israel (according to the bleeding hearts). But it gets much worse. Syria you see, HARBORS AND SUPPORTS TERRORISTS! Over 10 different groups (according to none other than FM Shimon Peres), work out of Damascus, like Islamic Jihad or receive support (weapons & aid transfers), like Hizbullah in Lebanon. Syria still appears on the U.S. State Department’s list of Terrorist States, first appearing in 1979. At this time of ‘War on Terrorism’ and ‘Political Correctness’ I can’t see how Syria can sit on the Security Council. I just don’t get it.

If Syria was Head of the Security Council, does that make the UN a terrorist supporting entity? Rep. Tom Lantos of California, the senior House International Relations Committee Democrat wrote to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan last month accusing UNRWA of being complicit in terrorism. If Syria’s occupation of Lebanon and support for terrorism isn’t enough to disqualify them from the Presidency of the Security Council or even sitting on it; what about its violations of UN Sanctions against Iraq?

. Under the UN oil-for-food plan, revenues from Iraqi oil sales are deposited in a UN account out of which monies are paid to suppliers for food, medicine and a host of other goods Baghdad orders. This was done to prevent the Iraqi regime from spending the money on weapons. But oil industry sources say Syria has been pumping more than 100,000 barrels of Iraqi oil a day since November 2000, bypassing the UN system and paying revenues straight into Baghdad's pocket. Britain challenged Damascus on the pipeline in January, after Syria became a member of the Security Council and the Sanctions Committee, saying it was a flagrant breach of sanctions. But members took no action. Gee, I just don’t get it.

. Daily flights between Syria and Iraq have been going on since February of this year, according to announcements by Iraq, and were even listed on the Syrian Airlines Web page. The Security Council's sanctions committee has been divided as to whether the flight embargo against Iraq, bans passenger flights. Some countries, such as the United States and Britain, say they are banned and the panel has to authorize them. Others say operators must notify the committee and provide a manifest, so the planes can be inspected by UN personnel for contraband material once they land. But Western committee members say Syria has not given notification of any flights. At the same time, members apparently have not pressed the issue although they have approved some 250 flights to Iraq in the past year. So Syria continues flying to Iraq. Gee, I just don’t get it. Do you?

So here we have it, a member state at the UN, Syria, occupies and absorbs its neighbor, in clear violation of UN Security Resolution 520. It harbors and supports terrorists, clearly undermining the International Communities ‘War on Terrorism’. Syria violates UN sanctions on Iraq: pumping oil, giving ‘cash back’ to them, and flying to Iraq. But instead of being condemned and castigated by the world (like Israel is all the time), Syria is elevated to a position of honor and power. First, it sits on the UN Security Council, and then it presides over it as President. How can the world tolerate this? Gee, I just don’t get it. Do you?

(c)2002/5762 Pasko