Posted by Catch of the day (126.96.36.199) on October 06, 2001 at 01:50:21:
In Reply to: The Democracy of Hypocrisy posted by Catch of the day on October 05, 2001 at 19:08:54:
U.S. faces defeat on U.N. seat for Syria
WASHINGTON, Oct. 4 (Reuters) -- The United States should fight Syria's bid to win a seat on the U.N. Security Council next week as incompatible with its war on terrorism, a member of the House of Representatives International Relations Committee said on Thursday.
But diplomats said regardless of any U.S. opposition, Syria -- which Washington calls a "state sponsor of terrorism" -- is expected to take a seat at the table.
"The election of Syria to the U.N. Security Council would be an outrage, making a mockery of the council's recent counterterrorism resolutions," Rep. Tom Lantos, the ranking Democrat on the House of Representatives International Relations Committee, said in a statement.
"As the United States and the world prepares to wage war on terrorism, a state sponsor of terror such as Syria has no place on the U.N.'s leading forum for defending international security," the California Democrat said.
Syria is vying for one of five seats on the council which change in the new year.
Despite an outcry from Lantos and the pro-Israeli lobbying group AIPAC, Syria is considered the consensus candidate of the Asia group at the United Nations and diplomats think the United States has no chance of keeping it off the council.
State Department spokesman Richard Boucher, asked how the United States would vote on Monday, said it was standard practice not to say because many countries sought its support.
But in the case of Sudan's candidacy last year, the United States lobbied vigorously and publicly to split the African vote. The move helped to win the seat for rival candidate Mauritius.
The United States opposed Sudan on the grounds that it was under U.N. sanctions and had attacked U.N. relief planes in the south.
The case of Syria is different because the Asia group agreed months ago to give the slot to Damascus and no alternative candidate is ready to challenge the consensus.
Syria's candidacy is especially sensitive in Washington as the Bush administration tries to build up an international alliance against terrorism following the Sept. 11 attacks.
U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell spoke by phone with Syrian Foreign Minister Farouq al-Shara after the attacks to sound out Syria's willingness to cooperate with the United States against extremist groups.
Syria condemned the attacks, but in subsequent statements it has drawn a distinction, unwelcome to the United States and Israel, between terrorist groups and groups which fight to end the Israeli occupation of Arab territory.
Syria supports or protects a wide range of Palestinian and Lebanese groups which attack Israelis, including Hezbollah, Hamas and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.
The pro-Israeli lobbying group AIPAC said in early September, before the attacks, that the United States must continue to oppose efforts to give Syria a seat.
"Given Syria's decades-long destructive conduct in the international arena, its coming election to the Security Council is truly shocking," it said in a statement.
The Security Council has 15 members, five with permanent seats and 10 with nonpermanent seats. The 10 nonpermanent members serve two-year terms, with five changing each year.
Also running unopposed on Monday are Cameroon and Guinea, representing two vacant African slots. In eastern Europe, Belarus and Bulgaria are competing for one seat. In Latin America and the Caribbean, the Dominican Republic is challenging Mexico for the same seat.
The five new members would replace Bangladesh, Jamaica, Mali, Tunisia and Ukraine.
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