UN Secretary-General warns Syria tensions could lead to "full-blown military escalation"

Nellie Chapman
April 13, 2018

"Increasing tensions and the inability to reach a compromise in the establishment of an accountability mechanism (for chemical weapons use in Syria) threaten to lead to a full-blown military escalation", Guterres told the Security Council.

The Secretary-General of the United Nations Antonio Guterres said at the session that the worsening situation in the Middle East is threatening global peace and security.

"The Cold War is back with a vengeance, but with a difference", he said.

"Increasing tensions and the inability to reach a compromise in the establishment of an accountability mechanism threaten to lead to a full-blown military escalation", Guterres told an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council called by Russian Federation. He strongly backed the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons' fact-finding mission to investigate last weekend's suspected poison gas attack in the Damascus suburb of Douma, saying the first OPCW team is already in Syria and "a second is expected today or tomorrow".

And he said the safeguards and mechanisms that managed the risk of escalation between the USA and the Soviet Union in the past "no longer seem to be present".

He cited the Palestinian-Israeli divide, the Sunni-Shia divide "evident from the Gulf to the Mediterranean" and other divisive factors reflected in a multiplicity of conflicts.

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"The situation in the middle East in chaos, to such an extent that it became a threat to global peace and security", he said.

He advised countries to "act responsibly in these risky circumstances".

Guterres also said that Syrians have suffered from random attacks, displacement, torture and relentless bombing for over seven years and that the world is watching. "But should the United States and our allies decide to act in Syria, it will be in defense of a principle on which we all agree", Haley told the UN Security Council. She also accused the Assad government of using chemical weapons on its own citizens on at least 50 occasions, and added that Russian Federation failed to uphold a 2013 agreement by which Syria would dispose of all its chemical weapons.

Haley also said that Russian Federation used its veto power to protect the Assad regime and prevented the punishment of those who use chemical weapons in Syria.

The Council rejected a third text - also proposed by Russian Federation - which concerned the work of the fact-finding mission of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), the implementing body of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), which entered into force in 1997.

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