Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and other foreign ministers told the U.N. Security Council today that a resolution calling for an immediate end to the violence in Syria would not be a repeat of the NATO operation in Libya that helped oust Moammar Gadhafi.
Brought to the Security Council by Arab and European countries, the resolution calls on Syria to adopt an Arab League plan that would end the crackdown on opposition groups by Syrian President Bashar al Assad’s regime. It also calls for a peaceful transition to democracy by having Assad handing over power to his vice-president.
“I know that some members here may be concerned that the Security Council is headed toward another Libya,” Clinton said. “That is a false analogy. Syria is a unique situation that requires its own approach, tailored to the specific circumstances there.”
Clinton’s comments were intended to reassure Russia, which has opposed the resolution over concern that it could lead to a foreign military involvement in Syria, much as what happened in Libya.
Because Russia can veto Security Council resolutions, American diplomatic efforts have been focused on getting Russian support for the resolution. State Department officials say that for the past two days Clinton has been unsuccessful in her efforts to reach Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov to discuss the Syria resolution.
The resolution was not voted on today and U.S. officials have said the earliest a vote could take place might be later this week.
“We are attempting to avoid any foreign intervention, particularly military intervention,” said Arab League Secretary-General Nabil al Araby, who noted that his organization’s peace plan calls for the Syrian people to determine their own political future.
Syria’s U.N. Ambassador Bashar Ja’afari said he found it strange that the Arab League had gone to the U.N. Security Council to seek support for its plan, given what he said were the hundreds of vetoes the body has cast in the past against Arab-backed initiatives.
Qatari Prime Minister Hamad bin Jassim al Thani reaffirmed that the resolution represents the Arab League’s intent to be a regional facilitator for a peaceful transition to democracy in Syria and that it was not about a military intervention.
French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe labeled as a “myth” the statement that the resolution could be construed as authorizing force in Syria.
U.K. Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs William Hague was the most forceful in his remarks to the Security Council that the resolution should be adopted.
“This is not the West telling Syria what to do,” he said, but Arab nations seeking to resolve the Syrian crisis.
Hague said the resolution makes no call for military intervention, though it puts Syria on notice that future options could be considered if the violence doesn’t stop.
A draft of the resolution obtained by ABC News calls for Syria to end the violence against opposition forces immediately. If Assad’s government fails to comply within 15 days, the resolution says the Council could “adopt further measures in consultation with the League of Arab States.”
Those further measures are believed to be additional economic sanctions against the Assad regime.
Appearing before a Congressional committee earlier today, America’s top intelligence official James Clapper said it was “a question of time before Assad falls.”
Director of National Intelligence Clapper said “it could be a long time” before the Assad regime falls because of “the protraction of these demonstrations” and a Syrian opposition that remains fragmented. But despite that, Clapper said, ” I do not see how long he can sustain his rule of Syria.”