Mandate for Palestine - July 24, 1922

Mandate for Palestine - July 24, 1922
Jordan is 77% of former Palestine - Israel, the West Bank (Judea and Samaria) and Gaza comprise 23%.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Palestine - International Scandal Checkmates Israel

[Published 28 December 2013]

The 2013 World Youth Chess Championships just held in Abu Dhabi have been marred by the scandalous behaviour of the 120 national Chess Federations that agreed to compete against Israeli players as an unidentified group under the banner of FIDE - the World Chess Federation.

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) like most Arab countries, does not recognize Israel. In 2009, the country denied Israeli tennis player Shahar Pe’er a visa to compete in the Dubai Tennis Championships, garnering widespread condemnation.

The invitation to compete was clear and unambiguous:
“The UAE Chess Federation and Al Ain Chess Club, under the auspices of FIDE, have the honor to invite all FIDE member federations to participate in the World Youth Chess Championships 2013 (Under 8, 10,12, 14, 16 and 18 years old – open and girls) scheduled 17 (arrival) – 29 (departure) December 2013 in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates.”

Somewhere thereafter the World Chess Federation became a willing player in excluding Israeli children aged 8-18 playing under their national flag and national identity.

Palestine - a member state of UNESCO whilst still claiming to be stateless - has been calling for inane and senseless academic and economic boycotts to be instituted against Israel in support of Palestinian statehood.

Yet Palestine is a member of the World Chess Federation and was represented by two players whose country was designated as “Palestine”.

The ultimate insult to individual Israeli competitors was the failure to list their country as “Israel” in the players’ biographies. Instead they were identified as citizens of “FIDE” - a place with no Capitol, area or population.

Palestinian competitors fared slightly better - players at least having their country identified as “Palestine” in their biographies - although that country too is listed without a Capitol, area or population.

One would be hard put to find a more blatant case of discrimination, racism and apartheid - played out against children to boot.

What mindless morons representing Chess Federations in competing countries like America, Australia, England, Norway, Sweden, Canada and France allowed this farce to be perpetrated?

What have their Governments had to say about this pernicious and underhanded behaviour?

Barack Obama and the European Union share a common silence in failing to raise their voices in protest against delegations from their respective member Federations acting in this manner.

Even worse Israel seems to have accepted its children being treated as non-entities. Why were they not withdrawn from the competition when this heinous conduct was revealed?

Moshe Slav, president of the Israeli Chess Federation told J-Wire:
“It’s true that we were asked to play as the FIDE and that our flag and country name be removed from the tournament web site…but the request was made by Israeli security in order to safeguard the participants.”

Even the Israeli Chess Federation’s web site is carrying an announcement stating that the official web site for the Abu Dhabi tournament:
“which lists all the players and nationalities took down the Israeli flag and has even gone so far as to rename them from the country “FIDE” attributing them the FIDE flag as well. It is a very unfortunate precedent for the World Youth and unheard of until now.”

They add that the Israeli flag was featured when the web site went public but had since been removed

Moshe Slav added:
“Our hosts were very good and I would like to take this opportunity of thanking Deputy Foreign Minister Ze’ev Elkin and the Limor Livnat the Minister for Sport for the wonderful help they provided. Sending the delegation was very costly and I would like to publicly thank through J-Wire those who helped fund the delegation’s costs.”

Did those contributing funds understand that the Israeli delegation would be treated in this shabby manner and that apparently the Israeli Chess Federation would roll over and allow the children to be compelled to play under the cover of anonymity?

At a time when Israel is being accused of alleged discrimination against its Arab and Beduin populations by a bevy of non-Government organisations (NGO) funded by wealthy overseas funds including substantial funding from the European Union - the double standards revealed in the course of this highly discriminatory competition beggars disbelief.

Yet it appears no protest has been raised by any of these NGO’s. Obviously discrimination against the Jewish population of Israel is acceptable. Indeed one would not be surprised if these NGO’s took the view that Jewish competitors - be they adults or children - deserve to be discriminated against in international forums and events such as these championships.

The views of funding organisations such as the Soros Foundation, the Ford Foundation and the New Israel Fund need to be sought out and clarified.

Will this practice now become acceptable at all future international meetings where Israelis attend?

It is about time Israel sat up, took notice and condemned such decisions in the strongest terms and demanded the same rights as are conferred on competitors from other countries - instead of being constantly denigrated and delegitimised in an increasing number of cases of overt Jew-hatred justified as being necessary in the pursuit of the human rights of others.

The World Chess Federation and the member Federations that engineered this blatant discrimination against Jewish children should hang their collective heads in shame.

I have requested the International Chess Federation to respond to this article prior to its publication - but no response has so far been received.

Palestine - European Union Embroiled In Financial Scandal

[Published 14 December 2013]

The European Union (EU) has become embroiled in a financial scandal of massive proportions in relation to the financial assistance given by it to the Palestinian Authority (PA) since 1994.

This appears very clear from the comprehensive European Court of Auditors Report dated 22 October 2013 which was only made public this week.
Financial scandal of massive proportions over financial assistance
The Report reveals the following:

1. During the period 1994–2006, more than 2.7 billion euro was allocated to the Palestinian Authority from the EU’s general budget.

2. Between 2007 and 2012 some 2.9 billion euro was committed from the EU general budget. The main focus of EU assistance involved direct financial support (DFS) - which accounted for 47.4 % of the overall assistance in the period 2007–12.

3. DFS was the EU’s response to the political, fiscal and humanitarian crisis that followed the temporary suspension of most aid to the PA following Hamas’ January 2006 election victory. A ‘temporary international mechanism’ (TIM) was established which aimed to ensure the direct delivery of assistance to the Palestinian population while bypassing a Hamasled government. TIM - initially set up for 3 months - operated between June 2006 and February 2008 - until replaced by the current mechanism – PEGASE - which is largely based on TIM

4. PEGASE DFS has had the broad objective of helping the PA continue to function until the overall political objective of a two state solution is achieved.
The main objective of PEGASE DFS is to help the PA to meet its obligations towards civil service employees and pensioners (CSP) and maintain the functioning of the administration and the provision of essential public services to the population;

5. Support for civil servants and pensioners comprised 72.5 % of total funding.

6.Since the launch of PEGASE DFS in February 2008, few substantial changes have been made to the CSP component. This is in spite of changes in the operational environment, including the increasing number of beneficiaries, the rise in the number of civil servants not attending work after public sector strikes in Gaza in August–September 2008 and the growing need for civil service reform.

7. The EU has not developed a clear strategy on how to reduce the PA’s dependency on PEGASE DFS support over time.

8. From 2008 to 2012, the average number of civil servants and pensioners that regularly had part of their salary paid by contributions from the CSP component rose from 75 502 to 84 320. This represents approximately half of the PA’s 170 000 civil servants and pensioners.

9. The PA has made little progress on civil service and pension reforms to reduce the fiscal impact of the increasing numbers of staff and pensioners, for example, by reducing the number of PA staff or amending the rules regulating entitlements.

10.The audit found indications that in Gaza a considerable number of civil servants were receiving salaries - partly funded by PEGASE DFS - because they were eligible for support by virtue of being on the PA payroll but who were not going to work due to the political situation in Gaza. Some civil servants were dismissed after the Hamas takeover because they supported the PA, while others were demoted or locked out following the PA trade union strikes of August– September 2008.

11. Out of 10 Gaza beneficiaries selected by the audit for interviews, three stated that they were not working, while one was absent. The audit also found that the State Audit and Administrative Control Bureau was obliged, in accordance with PA regulations, to pay salaries for its 90 staff members in Gaza, all of whom are unable to work. These findings are consistent with estimates based on data from interviews provided in a 2010 evaluation of PEGASE contracted by the EU which indicated that 22 % and 24 % respectively of the staff employed by the PA Ministries of Health and Education in Gaza were not working at the time.

12. The EU while aware of this problem, has not taken adequate steps to address it and was unable to provide clear information on the extent of this practice. Given the amount of money which the EU is providing through PEGASE DFS, it would have been expected that they could obtain such information from the PA.
Despite the importance of this issue, there was no transparent reference to PEGASE DFS being used to pay nonperforming workers in any of the EU’s financing documentation for the annual programmes.

13. While PEGASE is intended to support public services for the benefit of the Palestinian population, the payment of nonperforming civil servants does not serve this objective

14. Spending hundreds of millions of dollars supposedly supporting the salaries of public servants that no longer occupy those positions and doing nothing to arrest this expenditure - although knowing it was happening - indicates an appalling standard of financial irresponsibility for which the EU has become famous.

This financial gravy train seems set to continue whilst:
(i) Hamas and the PLO refuse to reconcile their differences
(ii) The PLO rejects any kind of settlement with Israel that entails Israel obtaining sovereignty in any part of the West Bank.

The European Union is on a treadmill from which it must now extricate itself.

The obvious solution is to make sure EU money gets to the most needy – not phantom employees who have been having a financial feast at European taxpayers expense.

Palestine - No Elections No Solution

[Published 18 November 2013]

The PLO negotiating team - headed by perennial negotiator Saeb Erekat - resigned this week in the middle of a nine month period set aside for intense and secret negotiations with Israel to achieve the creation of a second Arab state - in addition to Jordan - in former Mandatory Palestine.

PLO Chairman, head of Fatah, unconstitutional self-styled President of the defunct Palestinian Authority and unelected President of the “State of Palestine” - Mahmoud Abbas - was quick to point out on Egyptian TV:
“Either we can convince it to return, and we’re trying with them, or we form a new delegation.”.

Either way - it will be a waste of time.

The “two state solution” posited by these currently stalled negotiations is doomed to failure.

Ramzy Baroud - a Palestinian-American journalist, author and editor who taught Mass Communication at Australia’s Curtin University of Technology, and is Editor-in-Chief of the Palestine Chronicle - explains the futility of further negotiations with the PLO in his article “Why a winning Palestinian narrative is hard to find”:
“In an initially pointless exercise that lasted nearly an hour, I flipped between two Palestinian television channels, al-Aqsa TV of Hamas in Gaza and Palestine TV of Fatah in the West Bank. While both purported to represent Palestine and the Palestinians, each seemed to represent some other place and some other people. It was all very disappointing.

Hamas’ world is fixated on their hate of Fatah and other factional personal business. Fatah TV is stuck between several worlds of archaic language of phony revolutions, factional rivalry and unmatched self-adoration. The two narratives are growingly alien and will unlikely ever move beyond their immediate sense of self-gratification and utter absurdity.”

These irreconcilable differences between Fatah - the dominant faction in the PLO - and Hamas - not a member of the PLO - have remained unresolved since 2007.

In the absence of any unified representation for the Palestinian Arabs living in the West Bank and Gaza - how can any agreement between Israel and the PLO ever bring about a final end to the Arab-Jewish conflict that has raged unresolved for the last 130 years?

Mahmoud Al-Zahar, a Hamas official based in Gaza, told his movement’s daily newspaper - Al-Resalah - in August this year that Hamas should act to isolate Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and strip him of any representative capacity over his decision to negotiate with Israel.
“The PA has dealt the final blow to reconciliation talks, and Hamas will never accept the negotiation track and its result.”

CBN News confirmed Hamas’s stance on 30 September in its article “Hamas: No Agreement That Includes Israel’s Right to Exist”:
“We will not recognize any agreements at the expense of our land, rights and religious sites,” Asharq al-Awsat quoted Hamas officials on Sunday. “Palestine—the whole of Palestine from the [Mediterranean] sea to the [Jordan] river [i.e., Israel]—is the property Palestinian people and our nation, and no usurper has any right to a speck of dust of its territory.”

A spokesman for the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, the so-called military wing of Hamas, promised to be “at the heart of the new intifada.”

And Islamic Jihad member Ahmed al-Mudallal said, “Resistance in Palestine is the spearhead in the confrontation with the Zionist project, which targets Jerusalem, al-Aksa [mosque on the Temple Mount] and the whole of Palestine.”

Hamas vowed never to accept any agreement that includes recognition of Israel’s right to exist.

“Negotiations and security coordination with the Zionist enemy form a cover for the continuation of the occupation’s crimes against our territory, our people and our religious sites,” the statement continued.

“We call upon all Palestinian forces and factions to reject the path of these wasteful negotiations, which have proved their failure to achieve our people’s dreams and only brought them more waste, loss and division in the face of the occupation’s crimes and plans.”

Hamas called on the Palestinian Authority’s Fatah faction “to end negotiations and security coordination with the enemy and to return to resistance, national reconciliation and Palestinian unity.”

Fatah responded by saying it “will remain committed to Palestinian unity and will continue to work for the unity of the people, territory and the Palestinian leadership, which is represented by the Palestine Liberation Organization,” Asharq al-Awsat reported.”

US Secretary of State - John Kerry - showed once again how little he understands about the Jewish-Arab conflict he is spending so much time trying to resolve - telling TV audiences in Israel and the West Bank:
“The alternative to getting back to the talks is the potential of chaos. I mean, does Israel want a third intifada?"
Kerry obviously fails to appreciate that it is Hamas and its backers that will instigate a third intifada - especially if Israel and the PLO look like miraculously agreeing on anything.

Kerry should be focusing on the common denominator that has virtually guaranteed the failure of negotiations during the last seven years - the refusal of both Hamas and the PLO to allow the Palestinian Arabs in Gaza and the West Bank to hold fair and transparent triennial elections to determine who should represent them in final status negotiations with Israel.

Elections will end the culture of political impotency which has proved an impenetrable barrier to the Palestinian Arabs claimed right to self determination.

Without such elections - no final and binding agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Arabs is possible.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Palestine - Kerry Destined For Political Scrapheap

[Published 13 November 2013]

US Secretary of State - John Kerry - has again succeeded in muddying the waters with the following headline-grabbing sentence uttered by him after meeting PLO Chairman Mahmoud Abbas in Bethlehem this week:
“Let me emphasise that the position of the United States is that we consider now, and have always considered, the settlements to be illegitimate”

Abbas would have been squirming at Kerry’s use of the word “illegitimate” - rather than the word “illegal” - the term used by Abbas to deny Jews their claimed legal right to live in the West Bank.

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu - on the other hand - would have been shaking his head in disbelief at Kerry’s claim that the United States has “always” considered the settlements to be illegitimate.

The word “illegitimate” has several meanings in most dictionaries including -“illegal, unlawful, forbidden by law” - or alternatively - “incorrect, contrary to logic, unsound”.

Only Kerry himself can explain which meaning he intended to convey.

Jewish settlement in the West Bank is not illegal, unlawful or forbidden by law - having been legally sanctioned and expressly enshrined in international law under article 6 of the Mandate for Palestine and article 80 of the United Nations Charter

The PLO in 1964 considered the Balfour Declaration, Mandate for Palestine and everything based on them to be “fraud”. In 1968 the PLO deemed these documents to be “null and void”.

Kerry in my view was not flagging America’s opinion on these Jewish and PLO claims.

He was emphasising that Israel’s settlements policy in the West Bank was incorrect, contrary to logic, unsound - notwithstanding any claimed legal entitlement to so act.

Israel obviously does not agree with Kerry’s viewpoint - and continues to build and plan new houses in the West Bank in the belief these programs should not provide any justified excuse for Abbas to abandon the current negotiations.

A unilateral ten month building freeze by Israel in 2010-2011 brought no end to the conflict. Another similar freeze now could reasonably be expected to have very little impact - if any - in achieving a successful breakthrough.

The parties reportedly still remain apart on many substantive and sensitive issues far more serious than building houses over the next six months within heavily populated and decades-long established Jewish cities, villages and towns.

More alarming than trying to interpret Kerry’s ambiguous use of the word “illegitimate”- is his unambiguous claim that America has “always” considered the settlements to be illegitimate.

Kerry’s predecessor Hillary Clinton would be the first to disagree with Kerry - telling Christiane Armanpour on ABC in February 2011:
“I think it is absolutely clear to say, number one, that it’s been American policy for many years that settlements were illegitimate and it is the continuing goal and highest priority of the Obama administration to keep working toward a two-state solution with both Israelis and Palestinians",

“Many years” is clearly not “always”.

History also incontrovertibly denies Kerry’s claim.

President Woodrow Wilson said on 3 March 1919:
“I am persuaded that the Allied nations, with the fullest concurrence of our own Government and people, are agreed that in Palestine shall be laid the foundation of a Jewish Commonwealth.”

On 30 June 1922 - both Houses of Congress of the United States - then not a member of the League of Nations - unanimously endorsed the following joint resolution - which was signed by President Warren Harding on 21 September 1922:
“Favoring the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people:

Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled - That the United States of America favors the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which should prejudice the civil and religious rights of Christian and all other non-Jewish communities in Palestine, and that the holy places and religious buildings and sites in Palestine shall be adequately protected.”

The first Report of the High Commissioner on the Administration of Palestine (1920-1925) acknowledged America’s invaluable support for reconstituting the Jewish National Home in Palestine:
“The [Balfour] Declaration was endorsed at the time by several of the Allied Governments; it was reaffirmed by the Conference of the Principal Allied Powers at San Remo in 1920; it was subsequently endorsed by unanimous resolutions of both Houses of the Congress of the United States; it was embodied in the Mandate for Palestine approved by the League of Nations in 1922; it was declared, in a formal statement of policy issued by the Colonial Secretary in the same year, ‘not to be susceptible of change’. ... The policy was fixed and internationally guaranteed”

Jewish settlement in the West Bank between 1927 -1948 was never declared “illegitimate” or “illegal” by America.

President Bush acknowledged in his 14 April 2004 letter to Israel’s Prime Minister Ariel Sharon that it would be unrealistic to expect that all Jewish settlements built in the West Bank after 1967 would have to be uprooted.

Historical amnesia - Kerry-style - has been - and apparently still is - a potent factor in failed American attempts to resolve the Arab-Jewish conflict.

Such ignorance has clouded the thinking of many former well-intentioned Secretaries of State - who became ticking time bombs destined to end up on the political scrap heap because they tried to undo what was internationally guaranteed in former Palestine ninety years ago.

Kerry seems destined to join his failed predecessors.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Internet - Fertile Field Promoting Jew-hatred And Jew-bashing.

[Published 3 November 2013]

The Internet has become one of the major contributors to the growing spread of Jew-hatred and assaults on Jews world wide.

The senseless attack by eight hooligans in Bondi, Sydney last week bashing five Jewish people - one a 62 years old woman - as they were walking home after enjoying a Sabbath meal with friends - has resulted in an outpouring of world-wide condemnation by politicians, the media, the public and other religious groups.

Yet it is only one of an increasing number of such similar assaults on Jews world-wide.

Jewish communities have for decades been required to place their synagogues, communal schools and organizations under 24 hour security surveillance.

The propensity of the Internet to become an uncontrolled vehicle for racial incitement has been allowed to escape under the radar. It is time that its capacity to so influence the minds of its readers was diminished.

What has become particularly disturbing is the ability of people to make whatever comments they like on the Internet without disclosing their full names and addresses to web editors when submitting their comments.

Newspapers require such details to be supplied – and only in exceptional circumstances will anonymous letters be published.

Why do Internet sites not demand the same standard of compliance?

Failure to do so has seen the publication of anonymous comments such as the following:
“The Jews will still occupy the West Bank and blockade Gaza and continue with their brutal, genocidal occupation. If the world were to be rid of the U.S. and Israel, there would be a chance of peace in our chaotic, conflicted world. Surely, anyone with half a brain can see that!"

Freedom of speech should not mean that people should enjoy freedom from prosecution or legal action for comments they make that defame people or groups of people or incite or are capable of inciting violence.

Should the following comment have been allowed to be anonymously posted?
“Racist Israel is more than an abomination in the Middle East, it is a threat to the 7bn people it considers not to be racially “special”. Us. All the more reason to stop keeping it alive, and to target it with overwhelming nuclear might if it retaliates against civilisation for refusing to back its play. The Zionists may be blinded by their belief that God will protect them. Nobody and nothing will.”

No doubt apologists will argue that objections can be lodged to delete offending comments – but its implementation inevitably leads to strident cries claiming censorship.

Securing the deletion of an objectionable comment also ignores the damage caused during the time that such comment has remained online before its removal.

These vile viewpoints – if authoritatively sourced – should be exposed to public gaze so that readers can understand the level and intensity of the hatred that exists – as exemplified in the following comment:
“Why should we [love Jews] given what they do to the Palestinians and have done since 1948? I don’t think that Jews are capable of love. Their religion gets in the road. Their god is loveless and punitive and so are they!”

Jews are not on their own in being singled out for such incessant abuse and vilification on the Internet.

Protecting free speech – no matter how denigrating or defamatory – can be safeguarded on the Internet - if web sites make it clear that no comments will be considered for publication unless they are accompanied by the writer’s full name and address - and a phone number supplied for verification purposes that would allow the site administrator to confirm the identity and address of the person seeking to have his comments published on that web site.

The writer’s name and general area location should accompany the comment when published.

Compliance with these requirements should become the minimum norm demanded by the administrators of every web site.

It surely is time for such a voluntary code of conduct to be introduced to end comments being made under the cover of anonymity on the Internet by using false names or pseudonyms to conceal the writer’s true identity.

If such standards were applied – the following comments would not have appeared on “Citizen Pilgrimage” – the blog page of Emeritus Professor Richard Falk – “UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights on Palestinian territories occupied since 1967”:
1. “If Israel and the Jews hope to avoid the next shoah, they had better start learning a little empathy, because, while you are laughing now, things can change very rapidly, as we have seen in the last century (and the one before that, and the one before that….). Do you really want to be on the side that takes down our fragile civilization?”

2. “We can’t afford any more wars, especially ones to rescue Jews who have acted recklessly again and gotten themselves in trouble again with their big mouths and by flaunting their wealth in an unseemly manner.”

3. “The truth is that Jews have a terrible track record, and they seem to be obsessed with the (false) notion that people hate them for no reason. There are very good reasons for hating jews today, and that makes me sad. How can jews be acting this way so soon after the last catastrophe?"

Ending anonymous and unverified comments on the Internet is long overdue.

Paraphrasing Neil Armstrong’s immortal words – doing so would represent one small step for a man - but one giant leap for mankind.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Palestine - Bandar Candour Can Help End Arab-Jewish Conflict

[Published 27 October 2013]

Saudi Arabia’s intelligence chief - Prince Bandar bin Sultan - made a secret visit to Jordan this week - according to a report in Ammon News dated 25 October - reportedly meeting with Jordanian officials to discuss recent developments in the region - especially the Syrian file.

It would be inconceivable that they did not also discuss the Palestinian file - where any prospect of achieving a “two-state solution” for the first time ever in recorded history involving the creation of a second Arab state in former Palestine - in addition to Jordan - seems destined to certain failure after twenty years of fruitless negotiations trying to procure such an outcome.

Bandar’s visit to Jordan came hard on the heels of a conference held in Israel - where Israel’s lead negotiator in current secret two-state negotiations with the PLO - Tzipi Livni - is reported by the Jerusalem Post to have made the following remarks:
“Livni said she supported an ideological debate on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. But what really bothers her, she said, is that the opponents of a two-state solution have failed to put forward a legitimate alternative that is consistent with Jewish values and that would allow Israel to continue its relations with the international community.

She warned that failure to finalize an agreement with the Palestinians puts Israel at risk of having an unfavorable solution imposed upon it.

There are only two options facing Israel, she said, a one -state solution or a two-state solution, and only a two-state solution ensures a Jewish and democratic state. She noted that the goal of the nine months negotiating process begun almost three months ago is a final-status agreement to end all claims by both sides.”

Livni is wrong - and Bandar would be the first to castigate her for her unpardonable error.

There are three possible one-state solutions that would ensure a Jewish and democratic state - which involve merging the West Bank and Gaza:
1. Entirely with Jordan or
2. Dividing between Israel and Jordan or
3. Dividing between Israel, Jordan and Egypt

Twenty-three years ago in an Open Letter published in the Washington Times on 30 September 1990 - Bandar - then Saudi Arabia’s Ambassador in America - had publicly criticised Jordan’s King Hussein for his failure to create a Palestinian Arab State in the West Bank between 1948-1967.

Bandar made the following three very pertinent comments:
“Your Majesty, you claimed to defend the Palestinian people`s right to self-determination and a state of their own. And I support you in that. But you were responsible for the Palestinian homeland on the West Bank from 1948 to 1967. Why in all that period did you not give them their rights and statehood?

You are a very intelligent man, Your Majesty. And you have a fine memory. You say the Kuwait-Iraqi border is disputed and based on a historical record created by the colonial British. Your Majesty, you should be the last one to say that. Not only all your borders, but your whole country was created by the same colonial British.

Tell us, Your Majesty, what you have done to safeguard the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre that you lost to the Israelis in 1967, almost a quarter of a century ago?"

Bandar was right in sheeting home the blame on Jordan - but he also failed to acknowledge that the Arab League shared a major part of the responsibility for failing to have achieved that “two-state solution” during 1948-1967 - when not one Jew lived in Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem after they had all been permanently driven from their homes by six invading Arab-League members’ armies in 1948,

Bandar correctly identified that the conflict did not begin in 1948 - but started with the “colonial British” - who in 1922 planted the seeds enabling the ultimate creation of the Hashemite Kingdom of Transjordan in 1946 - thus denying the Jews the right to reconstitute the Jewish National Home in 76.9% of the territory originally intended for that purpose by the San Remo Conference as confirmed in the Treaty of Sevres in 1920.

Former US President Jimmy Carter neatly summed up this British decision in Time on 11 October 1982:
“As a nation it (Jordan) is a contrivance, arbitrarily devised by a few strokes of the pen”

With the two-state solution now in tatters - Jordan must resolutely face up to the responsibility incumbent on it to end the Arab-Jewish conflict by negotiating with Israel to achieve the most realistic one-state solution presently attainable - dividing the West Bank between Israel and Jordan.

Jordan’s opportunity to belatedly rectify the errors committed by it between 1948-1967 would have almost certainly been aired in the secret discussions this week in Jordan with Bandar.

Jordan’s King Abdullah would be well aware of the words of his father - the late King Hussein - who stated in his Autobiography - Uneasy Lies The Head:
“Palestine and Transjordan were both under British Mandate, but as my grandfather pointed out in his memoirs, they were hardly separate countries. Trans-Jordan being to the east of the river Jordan, it formed in a sense, the interior of Palestine”

The idea that Saudi Arabia could actually be encouraging Jordan to help end - if not finally terminate - the Arab-Jewish conflict within the context of secret discussions - is fascinating to contemplate.

The PLO has undeniably botched its chances.

Palestine - Billions In International Donors Funds Go Missing

[Published 20 October 2013]

Billions of euros in European aid to the PLO and Hamas between 2008 and 2012 may have been misspent, squandered or lost to corruption - according to an unpublished report by the European Court of Auditors - a Luxembourg-based watchdog - disclosed in an article appearing in The Sunday Times on 14 October.

Brussels reportedly transferred more than US$2.64 billion to the West Bank and Gaza in that four year period - but had little control over how it was spent - the auditors said in the damning report seen by The Sunday Times.

EU investigators who visited sites in Jerusalem, Gaza and the West Bank noted “significant shortcomings” in the management of funds sent to Gaza and the West Bank.

These disturbing revelations followed closely on the heels of a report in Ma’an News on 10 October claiming that the Palestinian Authority’s (PA) anti-corruption commission - established in 2010 - was working to retrieve PLO-owned land registered to individual PLO leaders - according to commission chief Rafiq al-Natsheh.

The commission had recovered around 400 dunums of PLO-owned land in 2012 - al-Natsheh told Ma’an.

Natsheh’s remarks were made after comments by him in in the Jordanian newspaper al-Dustour the previous week that PA officials were moving deposits from Jordanian banks to foreign accounts.
“If suspects accused of stealing public money (are moving funds abroad), that falls within our jurisdiction, We will ask these countries to help us restore the stolen public money, Transferring money anywhere (abroad) will not prevent us from calling suspects to account and restoring that money,”

In rare comments on the location of assets belonging to the PLO - al-Natsheh admitted that bank deposits and real estate collected by the PLO dating back to its inception in 1964 had been entrusted to “trustworthy individuals” and had yet to be recovered.

According to al-Natsheh, some of the money and property - which was supposed to be have been deposited into public accounts when the PA government was established in 1994 - still remains in private hands.

Any possibility of an embedded culture of corruption on a grand scale within the PLO and Hamas - as alleged in these news reports - could well be influencing any reconciliation between the PLO and Hamas who themselves have been locked in an internecine power struggle since 2007 creating two separate fiefdoms where corruption easily flourishes - ensuring that the continuing plunder of large injections of international donor funds will always trump any efforts at reconciliation.

Systemic corruption in the PLO could also be a powerful driver in influencing the continuation of the current status quo with Israel - enabling unjust enrichment of PLO officials to continue at the expense of the West Bank Arabs for whose welfare and advancement such funds received from international donors were to be ostensibly applied.

According to Mona Chalabi on Guardian Datablog:
“The Palestinian economy is dependent on international aid and around 4 in 5 Gazans rely on donations for their survival…

... In 2011, the single biggest donor to Palestine was the United States followed by the EU who gave $281m and $206m respectively.”

Other large donors in 2011 (in US dollars) included the UK (82.8 million), Sweden (76.4 million), Germany (57.5 million), France (43 million), Norway (39.6 million), Spain (34.9 million) Canada (34.3 million) and Italy (31.9 million).

In 2012 the Palestinian Authority only received 80% of the promised US$1 billion - well down from the $1.8 billion in 2008.

Continued mismanagement of dwindling international funds spells increasing economic hardship for West Bank and Gazan Arabs.

These donor countries must certainly be concerned at the allegations aired in The Sunday Times.

If the European Court of Auditors Report is confirmed - these countries will have no option but to call for an independent and transparent investigation into the possible misappropriation of foreign donor funds by the PLO and Hamas.

Transparency International - a Berlin-based watchdog monitoring corporate and political corruption - confirms that the state of paralysis afflicting the Palestinian parliament since 2007 as a result of the split between the PLO and Hamas has “given the executive unlimited management over public funds.”

A Palestinian opinion poll conducted in July 2012 found that 71 percent of respondents believed that corruption existed in PA institutions under the control of President Mahmoud Abbas. Some 57% of respondents said the same of Hamas-controlled institutions in the Gaza Strip.

Similarly, a hearing held at the US House of Representative’s Committee on Foreign Affairs in July 2012 heard evidence accusing the Palestinian political establishment of “chronic kleptocracy”

Transparency International seems to have pinpointed the crux of these monetary and financial woes affecting Palestinian Arab politics and policies with these few well chosen words:
“Presidential, legislative, and local elections are needed to restore the legitimacy of government institutions. This will also reinforce citizens’ interests, political accountability and the rule of law.”

Whilst the PLO and Hamas continue to deny West Bank and Gazan Arabs the right to vote on who should govern them - any prospects of investigating claims of misappropriation of international donor funds remains a distant dream.

The soon to be released report of the European Council of Auditors could prove to be the catalyst for ending the six year election drought in the West Bank and Gaza - resulting in the appointment of freely elected leaders implementing fully transparent and independent financial structures.

Such imperatives have become all the more urgent following these latest allegations.

Palestine - World Bank Exposes PLO's Disastrous Miscalculations

[Published 13 October 2013]

The failure by the PLO to accept two offers made by Israel in 2000/1 and 2008 ceding Israel’s claims in more than 90% of the West Bank have been political and economic catastrophes for West Bank Arabs - as substantiated by a World Bank Report published this week titled “West Bank and Gaza , Area C and the Future of the Palestinian Economy”.

Whilst Israel and the PLO are once again engaged in negotiations behind closed doors for the next eight months - any prospect for their successful conclusion seems destined to founder for the same reasons that led to the collapse of the negotiations in 2000/2001 and 2008 namely:
1. The PLO refusal to recognise Israel as the national home of the Jewish people
2. The PLO insistence that any Palestinian State not be demilitarised
3. The PLO rejection of the right of Jews to live in the West Bank under any circumstances
4. The PLO objection to abandoning the claimed right for millions of Palestinian Arabs to emigrate and settle in Israel.

The World Bank Report has highlighted the following disastrous economic outcomes suffered by the West Bank Arab population - because the PLO failed to grab those two political lifelines thrown to it by Israel:
1. Private investment has averaged a mere 15 percent of GDP over the past seven years, compared with rates of over 25 percent in vigorous middle income countries.
2. The manufacturing sector, usually a key driver of export-led growth, has stagnated since 1994, its share in GDP falling from 19 percent to 10 percent by 2011.
3. Manufacturing been not been replaced by high value-added service exports like Information Technology (IT) or tourism, as might have been expected.
4. Much of the meager investment has been channeled into internal trade and real estate development, neither of which generates significant employment.
5. Consequently, unemployment rates have remained very high in the Palestinian territories and are currently about 22 percent - with almost a quarter of the workforce employed by the Palestinian Authority - an unhealthy proportion that reflects the lack of dynamism in the private sector.

The World Bank has concluded:
“Whilst the unsettled political environment and internal Palestinian political divisions have contributed to investor aversion to the Palestinian territories, Israeli restrictions on trade, movement and access have been seen as the dominant deterrent.”

Accepting the Report’s conclusion - the fastest way to end these Israeli restrictions would be a signed peace treaty between the PLO and Israel.

In Area C - 61% of the West Bank where Israel exercises complete administrative and security control under the Oslo Accords - the World Bank report states:
”Area C is particularly important because it is either off limits for Palestinian economic activity, or only accessible with considerable difficulty and often at prohibitive cost. Since Area C is where the majority of the West Bank’s natural resources lie, the impact of these restrictions on the Palestinian economy has been considerable. Thus, the key to Palestinian prosperity continues to lie in the removal of these restrictions with due regard for Israel’s security.”

Realistically these restrictions in Area C are not going to disappear until the signing of a peace treaty that guarantees Israel’s security.

Yet the PLO stubbornly maintains its intransigent and rejectionist demands - whilst simultaneously encouraging economic, divestment and sanctions boycotts and public relations campaigns undertaken with funds supplied by foreign Governments and wealthy private foundations - designed to denigrate and delegitimise Israel and erode Israel’s legal rights negotiated under the Oslo Accords with the PLO.

That is the PLO’s prerogative - but it has come at a heavy political and economic cost.

The World Bank report confirms this gloomy assessment:
“Access to Area C will not cure all Palestinian economic problems - but the alternative is bleak. Without the ability to conduct purposeful economic activity in Area C, the economic space of the West Bank will remain crowded and stunted, inhabited by people whose daily interactions with the State of Israel are characterized by inconvenience, expense and frustration.”

Regrettably those affected by the PLO’s political stance - the West Bank Arab population - are denied any say in determining whether changes need to take place that would improve their economic and political fortunes.

PLO Chairman Mahmoud Abbas refuses to hold elections in the West Bank - preferring to continue with failed policies that threaten the future aspirations of the people he claims to represent - so clearly exposed in this damning World Bank Report.

Abbas continues to travel the world’s capitols unsuccessfully seeking financial support whilst an ailing economy collapses before his very eyes - as the World Bank Report makes ominously clear:
” Recent growth rates are proving unsustainable, however. Growth in recent years has been driven largely by extraordinary levels of donor budget support, which amounted to USD 1.8 billion, or 29 percent of GDP, in 2008. This fuelled a significant expansion in consumption, particularly the consumption of valuable public services such as policing, education and health (the share of public administration, education, and healthcare in GDP increased from 19 to 26 percent between 1994 and 2011). By 2012, however, budget support had decreased by more than half, and growth rates had declined from 9 percent in 2008-11 to 5.9 percent by 2012 and 1.9 percent in the first half of 2013 (-0.1 percent in the West Bank).”

International donors financial support is running out - as is PLO peace treaty signing time - as is the continuing disenfranchisement of the West Bank Arabs.

An explosive cocktail indeed.

Syria - Security Council International Conference Pure Pipe-Dream

[Published 6 October 2013]

It seems incredible that after 17 months of wrangling the best the Security Council could agree on is calling another International Conference that has no possible chance of convening - let alone helping peacefully resolve an end to the 30 months old conflict in Syria.

Suspended in an apparent time warp - Resolution 2118 - passed on 27 September - calls for:
“the convening, as soon as possible, of an international conference on Syria to implement the Geneva Communiqué, and calls upon all Syrian parties to engage seriously and constructively at the Geneva Conference on Syria, and underscores that they should be fully representative of the Syrian people and committed to the implementation of the Geneva Communiqué and to the achievement of stability and reconciliation;"

The Security Council seems to have not noticed that since the Geneva Communique was issued on 30 June 2012 - the then civil war being waged by Syrians against an autocratic Assad regime has now escalated into a far wider conflict involving foreign jihadist forces seeking to exercise power and influence in this latest episode of the Arab Spring.

Indeed on 25 September - just two days prior to the passing of Resolution 2118 - the Washington Post had reported:”
“Nearly a dozen of Syria’s powerful rebel factions, including one linked to al-Qaida, formally broke with the main opposition group in exile Wednesday and called for Islamic law in the country, dealing a severe blow to the Western-backed coalition.

The new alliance is a potential turning point, entrenching the schism within the rebellion and giving President Bashar Assad fuel for his long-stated contention that his regime is battling Islamic extremists in the civil war

The Turkey-based Syrian National Coalition — the political arm of the Free Syrian Army rebel group — has long been accused by those fighting inside Syria of being a puppet promoted by the West and Gulf Arab states supporting the Syrian rebellion.

Wednesday’s public rejection of the coalition’s authority will likely be extremely damaging for its future in Syria, particularly at a time when the U.S. and Russia are pushing for peace talks.”

It should be blindingly obvious that this development signals that some of the forces within the so-called Free Syrian Army are breaking up with the Syrian National Coalition supported by eleven West and Arab states - known as the London Eleven - to join forces with more hard-line foreign anti-Western Islamists.

Now just a few days later - Yahoo News has ominously reported on 2 October:
“The al Qaeda-linked Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) took control of the northern border town of Azaz last month, kicking out rival rebels and prompting Turkey to shut the crossing about 5 km (3 miles) away.

ISIL, which wants to merge Syria into a larger state ruled by Islamic law, has maintained control of the town since then and clashes have periodically erupted between it and fighters of the Northern Storm brigade that they had expelled to its outskirts.

Activists said the latest fighting broke out on Tuesday night after a deadline ISIL had set for Northern Storm fighters to surrender their weapons came to an end…

... The Syrian rebels have been undermined by infighting, partially over conflicting ideology, but more often over territory, spoils of war and control of resources and smuggling.”

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon showed how out of touch he is with what is happening in Syria.

In the full proces-verbal of the Security Council’s discussion after the adoption of resolution 2118 - the Secretary General:
“pressed the Council to capitalize on its new-found unity by focusing on two other equally crucial dimensions of the conflict: the dire humanitarian situation and the political crisis. For their parts, the Syrian sides must engage constructively towards the creation of a democratic State, while regional actors must challenge those who sought to undermine that process.”

Any hope for a democratic state ever arising from the current chaos, carnage and confusion in Syria is beyond comprehension.

The idea that “regional actors” can challenge those against creating a democratic Syria - short of war - is breathtaking.

Sergey Lavrov - Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation - said:
"The resolution set up a framework for the political settlement of the conflict by backing the convening of an international conference, which he believed could take place as early as mid-November. He also expected the Syrian opposition to state its readiness.”

As Assad’s prime backer - Russia has obviously relished further embarrassing the London Eleven as they slowly sink in the political quicksand of their own making.

Laurent Fabius - Minister for Foreign Affairs of France - said France:
“felt it was necessary to prepare the Geneva II conference within the framework of the Geneva Communiqué. He had chaired a meeting on Thursday with the President of the Syrian National Coalition, who confirmed a readiness to send a delegation as soon as possible. The Syrian regime’s supporters must make a similar commitment. He urged the Secretary-General and his Special Envoy to move quickly in that direction.”

Strangely the new alliance of Syrian and foreign jihadists did not rate a mention by either Lavrov or Fabius.

They surely know this alliance would spurn any invitation to an international conference - let alone agree to the creation of a democratic State in Syria.

The Security Council is surely living in a fool’s paradise of self delusion and unreality.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Israel Invited To Help Destroy Chemical Weapons In Syria

[Published 29 September 2013]

The passage of Security Council Resolution 2118 (2013) on 27 September calling for the collection and destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons - is a welcome breakthrough in ending the deadlock that has paralysed the Security Council’s ability to act constructively to end the civil war in Syria for the past thirty months.

It also signifies that diplomacy United Nations style is indeed the art of the possible - aimed at finding the lowest common denominators shared by the five permanent members of the Security Council.

Whilst a protocol has been put in place to destroy Syria’s chemical weapons - the Resolution also offers something of substance to prevent anti-Assad forces using chemical weapons in Syria and to committing the United Nations to search for and locate any such chemical weapons.

Russia has maintained anti-Assad forces used the sarin gas that resulted in the deaths of 1429 civilians on 21 August - but has been unable to conclusively substantiate that claim.

America has made it clear that it considers Syria responsible for the atrocity - as President Obama again made abundantly clear in his address to the General Assembly on 24 September;
“The evidence is overwhelming that the Assad regime used such weapons on August 21st. U.N. inspectors gave a clear accounting that advanced rockets fired large quantities of sarin gas at civilians. These rockets were fired from a regime-controlled neighborhood and landed in opposition neighborhoods.

It’s an insult to human reason and to the legitimacy of this institution to suggest that anyone other than the regime carried out this attack.”

President Obama has certainly not done his own credibility any good by continuing to publicly castigate Syria - asserting it is an insult to human reason and the legitimacy of the United Nations for anyone to think otherwise - but then immediately agreeing to Resolution 2118 three days later without any mention of Syria’s culpability.

Yet Russia and America have managed to agree on inserting the following mechanism in Resolution 2118 to try and find out whether the anti-Assad forces were indeed the culprits.
“Decides that Member States shall inform immediately the Security Council of any violation of resolution 1540 (2004), including acquisition by non-State actors of chemical weapons, their means of delivery and related materials in order to take necessary measures therefore; “

The United Nations Security Council unanimously adopted Resolution 1540 (2004) under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter on 28 April 2004 - which affirmed that the proliferation of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons and their means of delivery constituted a threat to international peace and security. The resolution obliged States to refrain from supporting by any means non-State actors from developing, acquiring, manufacturing, possessing, transporting, transferring or using nuclear, chemical or biological weapons and their delivery systems.

The idea that any member state violating Resolution 1540 would now immediately notify the Security Council and incriminate itself is laughable.

However Resolution 2118 contains three further obligations:
(1) In underscoring:
”that no party in Syria should use, develop, produce, acquire, stockpile, retain, or transfer chemical weapons;”

(2) In reaffirming:
“that all Member States shall refrain from providing any form of support to non-State actors that attempt to develop, acquire, manufacture, possess, transport, transfer or use nuclear, chemical or biological weapons and their means of delivery, and calls upon all Member States, in particular Member States neighbouring the Syrian Arab Republic, to report any violations of this paragraph to the Security Council immediately;

(3) Demanding that:
“ non-State actors not develop, acquire, manufacture, possess, transport, transfer or use nuclear, chemical or biological weapons and their means of delivery, and calls upon all Member States, in particular Member States neighbouring the Syrian Arab Republic, to report any actions inconsistent with this paragraph to the Security Council immediately"

Singling out all member States neighbouring the Syrian Arab Republic to report any such activities by non-State actors in Syria is particularly intriguing.

There are eleven UN member states - known as the London Eleven - providing military and financial aid to the Syrian Free Army. Six of these States are Syria’s neighbours - Turkey, Egypt, Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and UIA Emirates.

Are any of them aware that the Syrian Free Army has acquired chemical weapons? If so - they are unlikely to disclose their information and consequently be forced to withhold further aid - besides explaining why they continued supporting the Syrian Free Army knowing they held chemical weapons.

However - one of Syria’s most immediate neighbours - Israel - is not a member of the London Eleven and is vitally interested in the Security Council taking steps to collect and destroy such weapons.

Resolution 2118 requires Israel to disclose to the Security Council any information it holds on chemical weapons acquired by any anti- Assad forces in Syria. Israel is widely assumed to have extensive knowledge of the existence of such chemical weapons in Syria.

Israel can deny it has any information - but risks being in breach of Resolution 2118 if information in its possession is subsequently revealed.

Russia has cleverly forced the Security Council to determine the truth of Russia’s claim - whilst any evidence supplied by Russia and Israel will be critical in collecting and destroying those chemical weapons.

The impotence of the Security Council in ending non-State actors using chemical weapons in Syria has been brilliantly circumvented by this latest Resolution.

Such is the way convenient marriages are made in the Security Council.

Syria - London Eleven Need Help From Heaven

[Published 22 September 2013]

Only divine intervention now seems likely to justify continuing support for the anti- Assad forces in Syria by the group known as the London 11 - United States, Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Turkey, Egypt, Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

An unnamed Pentagon official has made this very clear in a Sunday Times article on 15 September headlined “Who’s calling the shots”:
“What everyone’s missing here is that the US has effectively chosen to back Assad,” a Pentagon official said. “There won’t be airstrikes in the foreseeable future and the administration has made clear that any help for the moderate opposition will be, to use Secretary Kerry’s words, unbelievably small. The facts on the ground are that Assad — who is still being armed by Russia — is winning.”

The Syrian opposition is clearly teetering on the ropes - indicating the failure of the London 11 strategy announced on 22 June:
“Doha, Qatar (CNN)—Foreign ministers from 11 countries meeting here cited the presence of foreign fighters in the country and the alleged use of chemical weapons by Damascus in agreeing Saturday to increase arms shipments to the rebels.

In a statement, the ministers representing the “London 11,” an offshoot of the “Friends of Syria,” said they would “provide urgently all the necessary materiel and equipment to the opposition on the ground, each country in its own way in order to enable them to counter brutal attacks by the regime and its allies and protect the Syrian people.”

The weapons are to be funneled through the opposition Free Syrian Army’s Supreme Military Council (SMC).

The alleged use of chemical weapons, which President Bashar al-Assad has denied, and the involvement of Hezbollah and Iran left the participants no choice:
“but to provide greater assistance of one kind or another, each nation making its own decision as to what it is comfortable doing, but all of them committing to do more to help the Syrian opposition,” U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry told reporters.”

Exacerbating Syria’s agony is the growing number of foreigners fighting alongside the Free Syrian Army - undoubtedly causing great concern among the London 11 as disclosed in this disturbing report in The Telegraph on 15 September:
“Opposition forces battling Bashar al-Assad’s regime in Syria now number around 100,000 fighters, but after more than two years of fighting they are fragmented into as many as 1,000 bands.

The new study by IHS Jane’s, a defence consultancy, estimates there are around 10,000 jihadists - who would include foreign fighters - fighting for powerful factions linked to al-Qaeda.

Another 30,000 to 35,000 are hardline Islamists who share much of the outlook of the jihadists, but are focused purely on the Syrian war rather than a wider international struggle.

There are also at least a further 30,000 moderates belonging to groups that have an Islamic character, meaning only a small minority of the rebels are linked to secular or purely nationalist groups…

...Fears that the rebellion against the Assad regime is being increasingly dominated by extremists has fuelled concerns in the West over supplying weaponry that will fall into hostile hands. These fears contributed to unease in the US and elsewhere over military intervention in Syria”

Certainly the western nations among the London 11 would have been appalled at the following remarks appearing in the Sunday Times article by a resident in the largely Christian town of Maaloula - following the entry of anti- Assad forces:
“These people are not after Bashar [al-Assad]. Their main aim and goal is to establish an Islamic caliphate. We have been living for 40 years as Christians under Assad. Now they place a gun to our head and say we have to convert to Islam.”

Another distraught resident declared:
“They broke into homes, stole things. They broke crosses and destroyed holy books. They fired at homes, ransacked, looted and destroyed anything with Christian symbols”

Moral imperatives might certainly have motivated the London 11 to initially take sides in the Syrian civil war.

However with this war claiming over 100000 deaths and seven million displaced Syrian civilians during the past 30 months - the time for the London 11 to call it a day must surely be approaching.

As the USA, Britain and France haggle with Russia in a vain attempt to procure face-saving terms for a United Nations Security Council Resolution to destroy all chemical weapons in Syria - the prospect of a ceasefire enabling their collection continues to evaporate given the disparate forces now fighting against Assad.

Intervention in Syria by the London 11 has been disastrous - as the increasing human casualties make so starkly clear.

The Pentagon official’s assessment declaring Assad the emerging winner is being increasingly confirmed with each passing day.

This conclusion may be unpalatable to the London 11 - and the group must shoulder some responsibility for the catastrophic humanitarian outcome.

A ceasefire between Assad and the SMC accompanied by an offer of safe passage and political asylum for SMC fighters and their families to the London 11 countries - would isolate the foreign jihadists - forcing them to exit Syria or die fighting Assad’s forces.

Assad would see off his armed opponents - Russia would see its pro-Assad stance justified - and the London 11 would have acted honourably to save those it supported.

These attainable goals - backed by Russia and America - represent a heaven-sent opportunity to end Syria’s hell and destroy its chemical weapons.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Syrian Free Army Signing Own Death Warrant

[Published 15 September 2013]

The swift agreement between Russia and America to collect and destroy Syria’s chemical weapons has been an impressive diplomatic achievement - marred only by the fact that it has taken three weeks longer to reach this point because of their joint failure to focus on ending the use of chemical weapons in Syria - rather than focusing on who was responsible for the atrocity that caused the deaths of 1429 Syrians on 21 August.

Speculation is rife that Syria may have spirited away some part of its chemical weapons arsenal to Iraq and Lebanon in those lost crucial three weeks. Hopefully further joint action by America and Russia in conjunction with UN inspectors can establish the truth or otherwise of this claim.

Equally impressive is the news is that Syria has met its obligations in applying for membership in the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) - as advised by UN spokesperson Martin Nesirky.
“The secretary-general, in his capacity of the depositary of the 1992 Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on their Destruction, has received the formal instrument of accession to the convention by the Syrian Arab Republic… The convention will enter into force for the Syrian Arab Republic on the 30th day following the date of deposit of this instrument of accession, namely on October 14 2013.”

Remarkably - the rebel forces fighting the Assad regime for the last 30 months seem to have set the stage for their demise - by indicating they will not accept the terms of the agreement reached between America and Russia - that should be translated into a binding Security Council Resolution within the next seven days calling for the collection and destruction of all chemical weapons in Syria.

The Kuwaiti News Agency has reported:
"The flagship accord was also applauded by several nations including Arab states namely Egypt and Algeria, but in Istanbul, the Syrian Free Army commander Major-General Saleem Idrees rejected the US-Russian agreement, saying it “will not solve the crisis” in Syria.” He added that the opposition Syrian Free Army would not implement any part of the accord.

“Me and my brother fighters will continue fighting until the removal of the regime. We can’t approve” this agreement, he said and criticized the deal which did not mention a single word on Al-Assad.”

This report - if accurate - could well signal the end of armaments supplies, funding and promised diplomatic support from America and the West for the Syrian Free Army.

It is clear that Russia has fairly and squarely attached the blame for the 21 August atrocity on the rebels - whilst America has been blaming the Assad regime.

Now America and Russia have procured Syria to come to the party and agree to destroy its chemical weapons - the suspicion must still exist - certainly according to Russia - that the rebels are also still in possession of such weapons.

Refusing to surrender any chemical weapons the Syrian Free Army has - or in case of denying it has any such weapons then allowing UN inspectors to verify this fact - will lead to the swift withdrawal of some of the the lifelines that has given the Syrian Free Army the ability to wage the civil war for the last 30 months.

In a roundup of statements supporting the historic agreement reached between America and Russia - the Kuwaiti news agency reported:
“The use of chemical weapons anywhere in the world is an affront to human dignity and a threat to the security of people everywhere,” the President (Obama) said. “We have a duty to preserve a world free from the fear of chemical weapons for our children. Today marks an important step toward achieving this goal.” UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon welcomed understanding reached by Lavrov and Kerry regarding the safeguarding and destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons stockpiles. “The Secretary General looks forward to learning more of this framework agreement and pledges the support of the United Nations in its implementation,” a UN statement said.

The agreement was applauded by NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen. “This is an important step towards the goal of ensuring the swift, secure and verifiable elimination of Syria’s stocks of chemical weapons. Full and unreserved Syrian compliance is now key,” he said in a statement tonight.

He stressed that the international community has a responsibility to make sure that the long-standing norm and practice against the use of chemical weapons is maintained, and violators are held accountable.”

It is inconceivable that the Syrian Free Army will be able to escape full compliance with the obligation to surrender all chemical weapons in its possession without paying a heavy price politically for continuing support in its civil war against the Assad regime.

America and Russia must now both remain focused on collecting and destroying all chemical weapons in Syria - in whoever’s possession they happen to be.

Continuing failure by the Syrian Free Army to co-operate in achieving this objective could lead to a swift collapse of the uprising and leave Assad in charge - vindicating the political support given to him unswervingly by Russia, China and Iran.

This may be an unpalatable result for the West to swallow - but it’s inevitability now seems to be well on the cards.

In failing to co-operate with the America-Russia initiative - the Syrian Free Army may well be signing its own death warrant.

Syria - Putin Puts International Law Before War

[Published 13 September 2013]

Russia’s President - Vladimir Putin - has trumped America’s President - Barack Obama - in urging the American nation to put international law before war to prevent any armed attack on Syria threatened by President Obama as a result of the chemical weapons atrocity perpetrated on 21 August that killed 1429 people.

Putin’s message had already been clearly heard by President Obama when he called on the Congress to postpone a vote approving any such military offensive - choosing instead to now pursue the collection and destruction of chemical weapons in Syria with the backing of a Security Council resolution - which will undoubtedly be finalised on such terms as are acceptable to Russia.

Putin sought to reinforce this end game in spectacular fashion by publishing an op-ed - (or should it have been called a ”victory speech”?) - in the New York Times under the heading - “A Plea for Caution From Russia - What Putin Has to Say to Americans About Syria”

Putin’s concentration on stressing the importance of the UN Security Council as the sole legal authority to declare war - and conversely to help end war - was particularly revealing.

On the role of the Security Council - Putin declared:
“The United Nations’ founders understood that decisions affecting war and peace should happen only by consensus, and with America’s consent the veto by Security Council permanent members was enshrined in the United Nations Charter. The profound wisdom of this has underpinned the stability of international relations for decades.

No one wants the United Nations to suffer the fate of the League of Nations, which collapsed because it lacked real leverage. This is possible if influential countries bypass the United Nations and take military action without Security Council authorization.”

The inability of the 5 Permanent Members of the Security Council to agree on the terms of a resolution to collect and destroy all chemical weapons in Syria - certainly could signal a lack of “real leverage” - threatening the future of the Security Council.

America’s objective in preventing the future use of chemical weapons in Syria or elsewhere will now be met - perhaps not entirely to America’s complete satisfaction - by accepting the terms of any Security Council resolution proposed by Russia.

However Putin now certainly needs to explain the lack of “real leverage” demonstrated by the failure of those same 5 Permanent Members to agree on the terms of a resolution to end the 30 month civil war in Syria that has already claimed over 100000 lives, created 2 million refugees and displaced 5 million Syrians in their own country.

Russia needs to do its own soul searching as it continues to exercise its veto vote to paralyse all efforts by the majority of the other Permanent Members to obtain a Security Council Resolution to try and end this humanitarian outrage.

Russia cannot continue to be the impediment frustrating any resolutions to try and end this conflict - if Putin wants to be taken seriously.

Putin has pointedly omitted mentioning the United Nations General Assembly - and for very good reason. The voting bloc comprised by the member states of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference and third world nations ensures that the most fanciful resolutions can be passed with impunity to demonise and denigrate other member States.

The fact that resolutions of the General Assembly have no legal effect is not understood by most people - who continually quote those General Assembly resolutions to justify their own viewpoints.

The classic example is the large number of General Assembly resolutions declaring Israeli settlements in the West Bank as being illegal in international law - when there are contradictory legal opinions asserting they are legal.

Repeated mantra like - these non-binding resolutions take on a life and misleading legal status of their own - when indeed nothing could be further from the truth.

On the need to be bound by the rule of law - Putin stated:
“From the outset, Russia has advocated peaceful dialogue enabling Syrians to develop a compromise plan for their own future. We are not protecting the Syrian government, but international law. We need to use the United Nations Security Council and believe that preserving law and order in today’s complex and turbulent world is one of the few ways to keep international relations from sliding into chaos. The law is still the law, and we must follow it whether we like it or not. Under current international law, force is permitted only in self-defense or by the decision of the Security Council. Anything else is unacceptable under the United Nations Charter and would constitute an act of aggression.”

Putin’s words - whilst very noble in their import - suffer from the old adage - “two lawyers - three opinions”

Regrettably the International Court of Justice remains the only tribunal within the UN framework with jurisdiction to deal with disputes between States - but only if those States agree to accept its jurisdiction.

The Court has the power to issue advisory opinions - but they are also non-binding.

Changing the present inadequate legal system is a worthwhile objective for Putin and Obama to pursue.

The Security Council can play an important role in the formation of a new Court system with teeth - possessing the ability to have its judgements respected and enforced.

Whilst the law is imperfect and often reversed on appeal - it still remains unavailable as of right when disputes between States need resolution.

Putin must now translate his words into concrete action if Americans are to believe him.

Syria - Putin To Dictate Terms Of UN Security Council Resolution

[Published 11 September 2013]

Russia’s President Putin will dictate the terms of any UN Security Council Resolution calling for the collection and destruction of chemical weapons in Syria - no matter what bluster or spin emanates from America, the United Kingdom and France.

The world has no real option but to accept and trust that Russia’s terms for collecting and destroying those chemical weapons will succeed.

This crisis - arising from the use of chemical weapons in Syria on 21 August 2013 - has already lead to the death of 1429 civilians including 426 children.

The threat of further use of chemical weapons in the 30 month old conflict - that has so far seen more than 100000 deaths, 2 million refugees and another 5 million Syrians becoming displaced citizens in their own country - must not be allowed by the international community to possibly be repeated again.

That is why a Security Council resolution agreed to by all 5 Permanent Members of the Security Council needs to be passed without filibustering or delay.

Middle East Live reports:
“Russia is working on an “effective, concrete” plan for putting Syria’s chemical weapons under international control and is discussing the details with Damascus, according to the latest announcement from its foreign minister Sergei Lavrov.

Lavrov told reporters the plan would be presented to other nations soon and that the proposal, which he announced on Monday, was not entirely Russian but grew out of contacts with the United States, Reuters reports.”

Reuters has quoted Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei as welcoming the Russian proposal - making it even clearer that the terms of the final Security Council resolution will be those acceptable to Russia.

Bridget Kendall - diplomatic correspondent for BBC news rightly observes:
“But any draft resolution could easily get bogged down in arguments over the terms and the language used. Already the French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius has warned that any UN Security Council Resolution would need to be backed up by tough conditions, with a short timeframe and a warning of severe consequences if it was not implemented. Would Russia agree to that? Not on recent form.”

With the greatest respect to Fabius - he has discharged a lot of hot air on this crisis so far. He is in no position to dictate the terms of any resolution - nor indeed are Obama and Cameron.

Threatening a military attack if their terms are not accepted will be met with incredulity and world wide opposition.

So what will Russia’s draft resolution presented to the Security Council look like?

Some hint was given by Russia’s Ambassador to Jordan - Alexander Kaluginon on the BBC Today programme - as reported by James Meikle
“Calling for the “international community” to send in professionals to “secure and verify” , Kalugin admitted such an operation would be difficult but “It is much better to do a difficult job than go ahead with a military option.”"

The task certainly will not be easy and will involve considerable risks to those having to firstly secure - then arrange for the collection and removal of the chemical weapons to a destination for safe storage prior to destruction.

Writing in May in the Global and Mail, Cheryl Rofer from the Los Alamos National Laboratory and analyst Aaron Stein, explained the practical steps involved:
“Syria is believed to have production facilities near Damascus, Aleppo, and Homs, as well as suspected storage sites in Latakia and Palmyra. The military would have to, in the fog of war, move in quickly to secure suspected facilities and find others…

Once the facilities are found and secured, they must be made safe. Initially, a specialized team would have to check for signs of sabotage, booby traps, deliberately released agents, or other potentially hazardous situations, including war damage. After getting the all-clear, an inspection team would begin the task of accounting for Mr. al-Assad’s chemical stockpile. Internal records and inventory lists would be an essential part of this, but a physical inventory would also be necessary.

Current amounts of precursors and agents in storage drums and munitions would be compared with the facility’s inventory lists. If a commander, for example, has failed to keep adequate records, an inspector tasked with producing an inventory of a Syrian chemical weapon facility could never state with 100 per cent confidence that none of the weapons had been stolen or used. The inventory would also serve as basis for planning the destruction of the materials.

After the stockpile has been inventoried, the weapons and stocks of agents and precursors would have to be destroyed. The inherent handling difficulties of these materials argue against shipping them to another country for destruction…

...The most difficult part of destroying the weapons is separating the explosives from the highly toxic agents.”

The operation could take years.

The draft resolution could call for an internationally supervised cease fire to be applied for a limited period of time - which would certainly bring some respite to the hell endured by Syria’s civilian population during this long conflict.

Russia’s Foreign Minister has reportedly said that after Russia and Syria work out the details of their chemical weapons offer they will then be ready to finalize the plan together with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).

Russia’s draft resolution will certainly be awaited with interest.

Time is certainly of the essence whilst those chemical weapons are not under UN control.

Syria - Obama And Kerry Converted On Road To Damascus

[Published 10 September 2013]

The swiftness with which attention is now being focused on collecting and destroying chemical weapons located in Syria has been truly breathtaking.

Last Friday 6 September - President Obama was waving a joint declaration signed by Australia, Canada, France, Italy, Japan, Republic of Korea, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States of America at the G20 Summit in St Petersburg - in which there was not one mention of the need to collect and destroy those chemical weapons.

That same day President Obama in his press conference in St Petersburg had been dismissive of a similar proposal suggested in the Congress - after it was specifically drawn to his attention by a reporter.

Yet on Monday 9 September - US Secretary of State John Kerry - when asked in London if there was anything Syrian President Assad could do to avert a US military strike - replied:
“Sure. He could turn over every single bit of his chemical weapons to the international community in the next week. Turn it over, all of it, without delay, and allow a full and total accounting for that”

Kerry seemed to shoot down his own idea - adding immediately:
“But he isn’t about to do it, and it can’t be done, obviously.”

Kerry was made to look rather stupid when Russia’s Foreign Minister - Sergei Lavrov just hours later proposed the idea to Syria:
“We have given our proposal to Syria’s Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem and are counting on a fast and, I hope, positive response,”

Al-Moallem’s response was short and to the point:
“I carefully listened to Sergei Lavrov’s statement about it. In connection with this, I note that Syria welcomes the Russian initiative based on the Syrian leadership’s concern about the lives of our nationals and the security of our country. We also hail the wisdom of the Russian leadership which is trying to prevent an American aggression against our people.”

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and British Prime Minister David Cameron were quick to jump on the bandwagon and spoke positively of the proposal.

Merkel said:
“Today there were very interesting proposals about the chemical weapons. If this is intended to lead to action and not to just play for time, then Germany will push hard for this path to be further pursued.”

Cameron - who only three days earlier had remained supportive of US President Barack Obama and his plan to embark on military intervention in Syria despite failing to get his own motion through government - was instantly converted to this proposal:
“If that were to be the case it would be hugely welcome. If Syria were to put its chemical weapons beyond use, under international supervision, clearly that would be a big step forward and should be encouraged.”

Even UN General Secretary Ban Ki-moon - who had stood by watching the United Nations Security Council being paralysed as it struggled to get a resolution passed on the atrocity caused by the use of chemical weapons in Syria on 21 August - told reporters on Monday:
“I am considering urging the Security Council to demand the immediate transfer of Syria’s chemical weapons and chemical precursor stocks to places inside Syria where they can be safely stored and destroyed.”

It seems inconceivable that all of the above players, their advisors and Foreign Offices could have allowed the chemical weapons crisis to spiral seriously out of control to the point where a military attack on Syria was the only option being considered.

But the most amazing conversion of all was that of President Obama himself.

Asked by Diane Sawyer of ABC News if he would put plans for an attack on pause should Assad yield control of his chemical weapons - Obama answered:
“Absolutely, if in fact that happened… Let’s see if we can come up with language that avoids a strike but accomplishes our key goals to make sure that these chemical weapons are not used”

Hopefully President Obama has since been on the phone to President Putin to knot out a resolution that can go to the Security Council for approval within the next 24 hours and allow the process of collecting and destroying all chemical weapons in Syria to take place without further delay.

There will no doubt be those who will question whether all such chemical weapons can be collected from both the Assad regime and the rebels.

One needs to wait and see.

Those weapons collected and destroyed under UN supervision will show Assad and the rebels that the world means business - and that any attempt to subvert the Security Council’s resolve will be met with an immediate response.

In a shameful self serving statement - President Obama is seeking to claim the credit for his amazing conversion from advocating and planning a military assault on Syria to securing agreement with Russia on collecting and destroying all chemical weapons in Syria - telling Diane Sawyer:
“I don’t think we would have gotten to this point unless we had maintained a credible possibility for a military strike and I don’t think now is the time for us to let up on that”

Had President Obama addressed the issue of collecting and destroying those chemical weapons rather that trying to blame Assad for having fired them - the process of destruction would already have been well underway.

Obama and Kerry’s judgment has been seriously compromised.

Their conversion to sanity and reality is to be welcomed.

Syria - Obama Hell-bent On Creating Hell

[Published 8 September 2013]

President Obama has lost a golden opportunity at the G20 Summit in St Petersburg to step back from undertaking a military assault on Syria - that promises to create hell for Syria’s civilian population and to unleash consequences that can extend far beyond Syria’s borders.

At his press conference held after the Summit - President Obama warned:
“Syria’s escalating use of chemical weapons threatens its neighbors, Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq, Israel. It threatens to further destabilize the Middle East. It increases the risk that these weapons will fall into the hands of terrorist groups. But more broadly, it threatens to unravel the international norm against chemical weapons embraced by 189 nations,, and those nations represent 98 percent of the world’s people.”

President Obama revealed there had been the following unanimity among all G20 members:
“It was unanimous that chemical weapons were used, a unanimous conclusion that chemical weapons were used in Syria. There was a unanimous view that the norm against using chemical weapons has to be maintained. That these weapons were banned for a reason and that the international community has to take those norms seriously.”

Given such unanimity - why were the G20 participants not able to agree on an international response to ending the use of chemical weapons in Syria with the authority of a United Nations Security Council Resolution to provide the international legitimacy for any such proposed action?

Their failure to do so was apparently due to President Obama and President Putin of Russia continuing to lock horns on their different views as to who was responsible for using such chemical weapons in Syria - rather than seeking constructive ways to get chemical weapons out of Syria to prevent their future use in the ongoing 30 months conflict that has so far defied international attempts at resolution.

President Obama made this diplomatic deadlock very clear when referring to his “candid and constructive conversation” with President Putin held on the sidelines of the plenary session:
“And on Syria, I said, listen, I don’t expect us to agree on this issue of chemical weapons use. Although it is possible that after the U.N. inspectors’ report, it may be more difficult for Mr. Putin to maintain his current position about the evidence.” (That the chemical weapons were used by the rebels - not by the Assad regime - editor)
President Obama sought to assure the world that his military response would be limited:
“And our response, based on my discussions with our military, is that we can have a response that is limited, that is proportional, that when I say limited, it’s both in time and in scope, but that is meaningful and that degrades Assad’s capacity to deliver chemical weapons, not just this time, but also in the future, and serves as a strong deterrent.”

With respect - no one could possibly predict the attainment of these objectives with any degree of confidence or accuracy - as the President himself confessed:
“Now, is it possible that Assad doubles down in the face of our action and uses chemical weapons more widely? I suppose anything’s possible, but it wouldn’t be wise. I think, at that point, mobilizing the international community would be easier, not harder. I think it would be pretty hard for the U.N. Security Council at that point to continue to resist the requirement for action, and we would gladly join with an international coalition to make sure that it stops.”

Only concerted international action under United Nations Mandate to enforce the removal of such chemical weapons from Syria can guarantee against their future use by either the Assad regime or the rebel forces.

Such an option was put to President Obama at his press conference:
“I wonder if you leave here and return to Washington, seeing the skepticism there, hearing it here, with any different ideas that might delay military action. For example, some in Congress have suggested giving the Syrian regime 45 days to sign the Chemical Weapons Convention, get rid of its chemical stockpiles, do something that would enhance the international sense of accountability for Syria, but delay military action.

Are you, Mr. President, looking at any of these ideas? Or are we on a fast track to military action as soon as Congress renders its judgment one way or the other?”

It was at this point that the opening available to President Obama to possibly step back from his planned military action - and instead initiate international action at the UN to collect and destroy these chemical weapons - was not grabbed with open arms.

His response was dismissive:
“So far at least, I have not seen ideas presented that, as a practical matter, I think would do the job”

Hopefully Congress will push President Obama to pursue its option especially as the President stated:
“My goal is to maintain the international norm on banning chemical weapons. I want that enforcement to be real. I want it to be serious. I want people to understand that gassing innocent people, you know, delivering chemical weapons against children, is not something we do.

...I’m listening to Congress. I’m not just doing the talking. And if there are good ideas that are worth pursuing, then I’m going to be open to them.”

Collecting and destroying chemical weapons in Syria still remains the most noble humanitarian objective worth pursuing.

Creating possible hell on earth by another American military adventure without UN authorisation will be disastrous

Syria - Obama Left Red-Faced Over Red Line

[Published 1 September 2013]

President Obama has tripped over his own red line - leaving the prestige and authority of his Office and America’s reputation in tatters.

The President’s statement last year on the possible use of chemical weapons - supposedly then awash in Syria whilst a civil war had been raging for eighteen months between the Assad regime and a rebel group comprising Syrian civilians, deserting Syrian soldiers and foreign insurgents - was spot on:
“A red line for us is we start seeing a whole bunch of chemical weapons moving around or being utilized.”

No mention was made by President Obama of the need to identify who was utilizing such weapons.

“Utilized” was the operative word - not “utilizer”

That red line appears to have been definitely crossed on 21 August 2013 with a claimed chemical warfare attack using sarin causing more than 1429 confirmed deaths - including 426 children.

USA Today reported on 23 August:
“Syria’s chemical weapons program stretches back decades, allowing the country to amass a supply of nerve and blister agents capable of being mounted on long-range missiles that could reach neighboring countries, according to government and independent analysts.

Its program stretches back to the 1970s or ‘80s — experts disagree on the precise time — as a means of developing a deterrent against Israel’s presumed nuclear capabilities, according to analysts and a Congressional Research Service report.

... Syria has stocks of sarin and VX, which attacks the nervous system, and mustard gas, which burns the skin, according to the Defense Intelligence Agency.

... Syria has generally denied having any chemical weapons, but a spokesman for the Syrian Foreign Ministry, Jihad Maqdisi, said last year that Syria would never use chemical weapons and they were secured.

... Syria is one of a handful of nations that the United States says is pursuing an active chemical weapons program, along with Iran and North Korea.

... Syria has not signed the Chemical Weapons Convention, which was ratified by the United States in 1997. It is an international agreement banning the production of chemical weapons and calling for the destruction of stockpiles.”

Syria’s stockpile of any such suspected chemicals cache could have been accessed by the rebel forces during the long running conflict or additional supplies procured by them from other sources.

But did it matter who used chemicals on 21 August? Wasn’t there real urgency now to ensure they could never be used again in this conflict?

Wasn’t the Obama red line crossed because such weapons had in fact been used in Syria on Syrian civilians - no matter which side had launched such attack?

Instead of focusing on the actual use of such chemical weapons - Obama and his Western allies chose to waste valuable time by accusing the Assad regime as the user of those chemical weapons.

UK Prime Minister David Cameron announced that a resolution would be tabled with the UN Security Council.

Cameron said the resolution would condemn “the chemical weapons attack by Assad” and authorize “necessary measures to protect civilian lives.” He also stressed that any intervention in Syria would have to be “legal, proportionate” and aimed at minimizing further loss of life.

Russia and China indicated they would veto such resolution.

The UN has since been sidelined as the UK and USA have threatened action without any UN Security Council Resolution as legal backing to justify any action they and their Allies might undertake.

Such action has so far proved illusory as both Cameron and Obama hesitated to initiate any action without the consent of their Legislatures. Indeed the British Parliament has already voted against intervening and any Congress decision will be at least seven days away.

Any vote by Congress for unilateral action would be fraught with difficulty and possibly invite retaliation on a massive scale.

Surely consideration should now be given to urgently securing Security Council approval to a resolution that:
1. Deplores the use of chemical weapons against the Syrian civilian population on 21 August 2013
2. Calls on Syria and the rebel forces to surrender control and custody over any chemical weapons in their possession within 72 hours to the United Nations
3. Reserves the right to take such further action as it considers fit in the event of non- compliance with the Security Council resolution.

There is evidence Russia and China would not veto such a Resolution

On 18 June 2013 - The Group of 8 (G8) — consisting of the United States, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy, Canada, Japan, and Russia — issued a statement in which they:
“condemn in the strongest terms any use of chemical weapons and all human rights violations in Syria.”

The document pointedly refrained from the need to assign blame for their use.

Australia - now occupying the Presidency of the Security Council - could be a driving force in resurrecting this G8 resolution as the basis for the necessary first step in disarming both sides of chemical weapons.

Precious time is being lost as the conflicting parties in Syria continue their war with increasing death and suffering to its hapless civilian population - with the threat of further chemical warfare now being a distinct possibility instead of a theoretical probability.

The UN Security Council must find common ground on this issue between its 5 permanent members - or be condemned for being totally unable to deal with this humanitarian outrage.

Like its predecessor - the League of Nations - the UN could be writing its own death certificate if it fails to rise to this challenge.