India voted on Syria after getting draft amended

Washington: India and other like-minded countries in the UN Security Council decided to support a Western-backed draft resolution on Syria only after it was agreed to explicitly remove provisions of regime change, threat of sanctions and military intervention.

The draft resolution on Syria, introduced by Morocco and supported by the Arab League, failed to be adopted by the UN Security Council as two of its permanent members, Russia and China, vetoed it.

Indian diplomats, who negotiated with their counterparts from other nations in the UNSC, explained that it was only after Indian conditions and those of the other like-minded countries were met by the promoters of the draft resolution that New Delhi decided to vote in its favour.

The other like-minded countries were South Africa, Azerbaijan and Pakistan. Officials said after the final round of negotiations it was clear that Russia and China would support it.

The Russian decision to oppose the resolution came only at the last minute after the Munich meeting between US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

It is believed that the last minute Russian suggestions or conditions were neither shared during the negotiations or with any other members of the Security Council but were discussed bilaterally only with the United States.

The developments surprised many diplomats. "Explicit provision for handing over of power by (Syrian) President Bashar Al-Assad to his Vice President had to be removed before India and likeminded countries decided to support the resolution," a senior Indian diplomat told PTI.

There is nothing in the draft resolution which calls for regime change, insisted the official, who agreed to speak on the behind the scene activities in the run up to the voting on the Syrian resolution only on condition of anonymity.

In fact, the draft clearly calls for an inclusive Syrian- led political process without judging the outcome.

In this regard, the failed resolution supported for the implementation of the Arab League decision. Moreover details of the Arab League decision were deleted from the resolution before India and other countries decided to support it, the official said.

The official insisted that the draft had no provision about any sanction or any kind of designation or travel ban. Further, nothing in the draft resolution authorized under article 42 of the UN Charter which is the concerning military operations form outside; another major condition for India and other like-minded countries to come on board.

"While there is an element of delegation of power by the President to the Vice President under League`s decision, that does not find mention in the resolution. It was deleted specifically, before India and several other countries decided to vote in favor of the resolution," the Indian diplomat said.

"There is a civil war going on in Syria. In that civil war, India and several other countries do not want United Nations to be seen siding with one party or the other. So the best course of action in this kind of situation is that both the parties sit together and decide on what they will do rather than prescribing a particular course of action to one party," the official said.

Indian official also pointed out to certain other provisions of the draft resolution such as condemnation of all violence, irrespective of where it comes from were incorporated by its co-sponsors at India`s insistence.

For instance the draft resolution condemned all violence, irrespective of where it comes from, and in this regard demanded that all parties in Syria, including armed groups, immediately stop or reprisals, including attacks against State institutions, in accordance with the League of Arab States? initiatives.

"This is an explicitly Indian amendment which the co-sponsors agreed to incorporate," the Indian diplomat said.

Referring to Article 95 of the Syrian constitution, which provides for the President to delegate some of his powers to the Vice President, the official said the idea is to use such delegation of power to facilitate the government?s engagement with the opposition so that the crisis is resolved politically.

In fact, contrary to the impression coming out in the Western media that there is no provision of regime change in the draft is further buttressed by section six of the draft resolution which encourages the Arab League to continue its efforts in cooperation with the all Syrian stake holders.