After former UN secretary-general Kofi Annan concluded his talks in Damascus by stating, "We are at the point of no return," US Permanent Representative to the United Nations Susan Rice rushed to endorse what she called a "path of transformation" for Syria. She announced that, given the recent pessimistic discussions in the Security Council, the Syrian crisis now faces three options:
The first, and the best, would be for the Syrian government to carry out its obligations according to the Annan plan. The second would be for the Security Council to make good on its responsibilities vis-à-vis the Syrian people and exert pressure on the Syrian authorities. This requires working around Russian and Chinese objections to these plans. The third, and the worst possible, course of action would be for actions to be taken outside of the Annan plan and outside the realm of the Security Council to prevent the conflict from spreading in the region.
Vladimir Putin did not rush to respond to Rice or French President Francois Hollande’s statements. Hollande said that military intervention in Syria is not off the table, provided it is carried out in the framework of the United Nations. Putin announced that "Russia's position will not change" its position, which increased the ambiguity plaguing the Security Council. Certain members are seeking to push through a resolution based on Chapter VII of the UN charter which will definitely collide with a Russian veto.
But Putin, who is arriving today [June 1, 2012] in Berlin before heading to Paris, knows that it is not enough for Moscow to announce its dissatisfaction with the status quo in Syria. Russia has become an obstacle in the face of unanimous international consensus — it also vetoed action in Kosovo on the eve of NATO intervention there. Putin is likely to hold serious discussions with Angela Merkel, whose representative at the Security Council said that she “hopes that the Houla Massacre will open the eyes of some to the seriousness of the situation.” Putin is also expected to meet with Hollande, who is seeking to make his mark on international politics.
After this reaching of "a point of no return,” what direction will the "the path of transformation” take? Is it possible to talk about Chapter VII before addressing the positions of China and Russia? Are the US and its allies planning to undertake a military intervention with forces on the ground, as happened in Iraq in 2003, or by air, as happened in Libya last year?
The answer is: first, the Russian veto will continue, because Barack Obama is leading his electoral battle and is in no position to negotiate with Russia and strengthen its role in international politics, particularly in the Arab world.
Second, any military intervention outside of the international mandate, along the line of the Kosovo model, is a mere illusion.
So what is the solution?
Arab countries remain as toothless as they always have been, issuing international statements that are only pushing Syria further into bloodbath and civil war. Let Putin reap the fruits of his mistakes in Syria as he did in Libya!