A warning against US meddling in Syria
Ankara now realizes that it doesn’t have the power to rearrange — forget it in the region, but also not in Syria. Turkey, a rising heavyweight in the Muslim world, has led the international campaign to oust the regime in next-door Syria. But as the fighting drags on, Turkey is complaining that the United States and others have left it abandoned on the front line of a conflict that is bleeding across its border. Turks are re-learning that the United States is a very valuable ally to have, and this may point to opportunities for a better relationship in the future. If Turkey sees itself now not as the dominant power in its region but as a very important player, aware of its limitations and desirous of close cooperation with the United States, perhaps the close alliance of past decades-which was so valuable to the United States-can be rebuilt.
By Tony Cartalucci
Indeed, the US Army’s West Point Combating Terrorism Center (CTC) noted that Benghazi and the neighboring city of Darnah served a disproportionately high role in supplying foreign fighters to wage terror against the people of Iraq and Afghanistan – foot soldiers brought in to fuel a destructive and divisive sectarian war that undermined a united Sunni-Shi’ia resistance to Western troops who had invaded.
West’s corporate-financier driven foreign policy voiced support for Libya’s terror brigades, sectarian extremists took the streets waving the flag of Al Qaeda, even hoisting it atop the Benghazi courthouse itself. Despite a concerted effort by Western media houses to portray Libya as in the hands of progressive democratic secularists, the country was intentionally handed over to extremists to serve as a base of militancy to destabilize and destroy targets of Western interest around the word.
Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) militants, terrorists linked directly with Al Qaeda according to West Point reports (.pdf), and listed to this day by the US State Department, the UK Home Office (.pdf), and the UN as a “foreign terrorist organization.” McCain was not only rhetorically supporting listed terrorists, but calling for material support including weapons, funds, training, and air support in direct violation of USC § 2339A & 2339B, “providing material support or resources to designated foreign terrorist organizations.”
These same terrorists are now not only the defacto rulers of much of Libya, but are leading death squads in Syria and arming militants in Mali, an exponential expansion made possible by a non-partisan effort including Republicans and Democrats, as well as Bush-era Neo-Conservatives who concurrently lead both anti-Islam propaganda while leading calls to arm the most radical sectarian extremist groups, including groups directly affiliated with Al Qaeda.
Not only has US policy been exposed as not “promoting democracy” but purposefully spreading destabilization, violence, and terrorism, but the exact same militants behind the death of the US’ own ambassador are literally leading US efforts to visit the same violence, destabilization, and chaos upon Syria.
US, British, and UN listed terrorist organization Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG), “now leads a unit in Syria, made up mainly of Syrians but also including some foreign fighters, including 20 senior members of his own Libyan rebel unit.” Reuters would go on to explain, “the Libyans aiding the Syrian rebels include specialists in communications, logistics, humanitarian issues and heavy weapons,” and that they “operate training bases, teaching fitness and battlefield tactics.”
With Libya’s “democratic progress” exposed as only tenuously covering up NATO’s creation of a nation-wide safe haven for Al Qaeda terrorists to subsequently be deployed against the West’s political enemies across he Arab World and beyond, it will be even more difficult, if not impossible to continue promoting this same “change” in Syria. Libya, through direct action of NATO, has been overrun by terrorists. Syria’s government is desperately trying to prevent its people from being likewise overrun.
Russia, China, Iran, and a growing number of nations have been opposing this campaign of supranational terrorism – with the death of Ambassador Stevens laying bare the true nature of America’s proxy “freedom fighters,” the list of global opposition will only grow, leaving only the most shameless and deeply invested to defend America’s invasive and bloody foreign policy.
Foreign Fighters Bring a Global Agenda to Syria
By: Arif Jamal
Two recent events seem to have shaken the Haqqani Network to its core—the death of Badruddin Haqqani and the group’s designation as a “Foreign Terrorist Organization” (FTO) by the United States. According to a Pakistani journalist based in the Tribal Areas, the death of Badruddin Haqqani was more of symbolic and psychological impact while the FTO designation by the United States hit the group’s soft financial underbelly. “There is no shortage of people who can replace Badruddin Haqqani but there are no countries that can replace the lost [support from some] countries as a consequence of the FTO designation.”  Though reports of Badruddin’s death were initially denied by Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid, they were later confirmed by Badruddin’s family (Ansar1.info, August 26; Khaama Press [Kabul], August 27).
The cross-border Haqqani Network keeps its identity intact within the Taliban Movement. It also has independent ties with other terrorist groups such as al-Qaeda and Lashkar-e-Taiba. According to Pakistani journalist Wajahat Khan: “The network is, literally, a bit like a crime family. Lots of cousins and uncles dominate the top tiers of leadership, specializing in different roles, skills, regions and formations” (Express Tribune [Karachi], September 8).
Although Badruddin’s brother Sirajuddin was considered senior to him in the network hierarchy, Badruddin was heavily involved in kidnappings, extortion and military operations in Afghanistan. According to a security official based in the tribal areas, Badruddin was in-charge of day-to-day operational details such as recruiting and training suicide bombers for southeastern Afghanistan (including Kabul). 
The Haqqani Network is known to have a wide range of legitimate business interests in Pakistan as well as some Middle East countries. There is no immediate threat to their business interests in Pakistan as Islamabad is determined not to abandon them. Although it became quite clear more than a month ago that the United States was about to take action against the Haqqani Network, Pakistan did not take any action against the group itself. Neither were the Haqqanis worried. According to a Pakistani official, “They felt fairly assured about their business and financial interests in Pakistan. However, they have taken some preliminary steps to secure their interests and accounts in some Middle East countries.” 
Turkey: Lessons From the Syrian Crisis?
For several years, most assessments were of ever-growing Turkish power. “If Turkey plays its cards right, it could…even become the dominant power in the region,” one leading analyst said in January of this year. “The scene is set for Turkey to become a major regional power,” said another in 2010. “If Russia weakens, Turkey emerges as the dominant power in the region, including the eastern Mediterranean,” concluded a 2009 analysis. Many other examples could be given.
Turkey, a rising heavyweight in the Muslim world, has led the international campaign to oust the regime in next-door Syria. But as the fighting drags on, Turkey is complaining that the United States and others have left it abandoned on the front line of a conflict that is bleeding across its border.
[A]s opinion polls indicate declining domestic support for the government’s stance, Turkey is finding it has limited room to manage fallout that analysts say it did not anticipate when it turned against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad last year.
“Ankara now realizes that it doesn’t have the power to rearrange — forget it in the region, but also not in Syria.
The current, difficult period of U.S.-Turkish relations began when Turkey refused its cooperation to the invasion of Iraq in 2003, and has been exacerbated by Turkish attitudes and actions regarding Israel. Now the Turks are re-learning that the United States is a very valuable ally to have, and this may point to opportunities for a better relationship in the future. If Turkey sees itself now not as the dominant power in its region but as a very important player, aware of its limitations and desirous of close cooperation with the United States, perhaps the close alliance of past decades-which was so valuable to the United States-can be rebuilt.
The Syrian Civil War’s Global Implications
Moscow and Beijing warn that Washington’s approach is extremely dangerous, since it could intensify the explosive tensions between the leading Sunni powers (US allies Saudi Arabia and Turkey) and Shiite Iran. Such a confrontation, Russian and Chinese policymakers fear, might set the entire Middle East aflame.
In addition, bringing down Syria (even if it were not clearly a prelude to bringing down Iran) does not serve Russian or Chinese national interests. Moscow has long-standing economic and strategic ties with the Syrian government, not only under Bashar Assad but during earlier decades under his father. The USSR supplied Damascus with economic and military aid throughout the Cold War, and Russia’s “naval maintenance facility” is the only military installation that country has today in the Mediterranean region. China was Syria’s largest trading partner in 2011, with Syrian exports to that country totaling more than $2.4 billion. China is also a major participant in Syria’s oil industry.
A bigger concern for Russia and China, though, is that US policy regarding Syria is just the latest manifestation of an overall strategy of forcible regime change to advance the interests and policy preferences of the United States and its Western allies. That policy was on display in the Balkans during the 1990s, Iraq during George W. Bush’s administration, and more recently in Libya. To officials in Moscow and Beijing, it looks suspiciously like a power play to achieve undisputed US/Western global dominance.
Both sides, but especially the West, need to keep the dispute over Syria policy in perspective. Unfortunately, neither side seems inclined to do that. The Putin government is digging in its heels, continuing to back the tottering Assad regime, and the Chinese government, at least thus far, appears to support that policy. Even worse, Washington has not muted its shrill accusations and threats against Moscow and Beijing for daring to thwart US policy.
The importance of good relations between the West and Russia and China goes far beyond the issue of Syria. It would be a tragedy if policymakers allowed differences regarding Syria policy to disrupt those crucial relations and trigger an East-West cold war.
Syria is not Libya
by Dominique Moisi
And the political context has changed significantly, with America’s presidential election approaching and a deepening economic crisis in Europe. Rightly or wrongly, Russia and China believe that the time has come to take their revenge over an arrogant West that deceived them about the true purpose of “humanitarian intervention” in Libya.
This time, they hold the better cards. At a time when US President Barack Obama is basing his campaign partly on his withdrawal of American troops from Iraq and his plan to do the same in Afghanistan, he cannot take the risk of intervening in Syria. Meanwhile, the European Union is fighting for its survival, and cannot devote its energies to an uncertain battle. For the West, the timing of the Syrian rebels’ uprising could not have been worse.
But, despite deep divisions among the rebels, the cost of Western indifference is probably higher than the risk of intervention. The international community can no longer hide behind the pretense of ignorance. It lost its innocence decades ago. When faced with the slaughter of civilians, it can no longer pretend that it does not know.
Adding Grist to the Salafists’ Mill
by Karim El-Gawhary
Egypt is governed by Mohammed Mursi, drawn from the ranks of the conservative Muslim Brotherhood, holder of governmental responsibility and also therefore responsible for protecting foreign embassies. The Muslim Brotherhood is still attempting to play a dual role, denouncing the film and calling for peaceful demonstrations. Party spokesman Muhammad Ghozlan called on the US government to apologise and punish those responsible.
But if the Muslim Brothers want to retain their governmental responsibility, they cannot leave street-level Islam to the Salafists. The same goes for the newly-elected Libyan government. The controversy surrounding the film and the attacks on US installations represent an initial wake-up call for new democratically-elected Arab governments; a warning that they can no longer sidestep political confrontation with the Salafists. Alongside the economic situation, this will pose the greatest challenge to new rulers in Cairo and Tripoli.
In tackling this issue, they would have the support of moderate Islamists, liberals, the military and western foreign nations. And the whole business would surely be much simpler if it were not for these sporadic Islamophobic provocations from abroad, which only serve to add grist to the extremists’ mill.
Reception Marking Eid ul-Fitr
We lost four Americans. They were good and brave men. They were committed to the cause of building a brighter future for the people of Libya. And we condemn the violence in the strongest terms, the violence against our posts in Benghazi, in Egypt, and now in Yemen.
The Libyan ambassador is with us tonight, and I want to take a moment to thank him for the support that his government and the Libyan people have shown to the United States in this tragedy, particularly the outpouring of feelings of grief and loss because of the killing of our ambassador.
Religious freedom and religious tolerance are essential to the stability of any nation, any people. Hatred and violence in the name of religion only poison the well. All people of faith and good will know that the actions of a small and savage group in Benghazi do not honor religion or God in any way. Nor do they speak for the more than one billion Muslims around the world, many of whom have shown an outpouring of support during this time.
Unfortunately, however, over the last 24 hours, we have also seen violence spread elsewhere. Some seek to justify this behavior as a response to inflammatory, despicable material posted on the internet. As I said earlier today, the United States rejects both the content and the message of that video. The United States deplores any intentional effort to denigrate the religious beliefs of others. At our meeting earlier today, my colleague, the foreign minister of Morocco, said that all prophets should be respected because they are all symbols of our humanity, for all humanity.
But both of us were crystal clear in this paramount message: There is never any justification for violent acts of this kind. And we look to leaders around the world to stand up and speak out against violence, and to take steps to protect diplomatic missions from attack.
Think about it. When Christians are subject to insults to their faith, and that certainly happens, we expect them not to resort to violence. When Hindus or Buddhists are subjected to insults to their faiths, and that also certainly happens, we expect them not to resort to violence. The same goes for all faiths, including Islam.
When all of us who are people of faith – and I am one – feel the pain of insults, of misunderstanding, of denigration to what we cherish, we must expect ourselves and others not to resort to violence. That is a universal standard and expectation, and it is everyone’s obligation to meet that, so that we make no differences, we expect no less of ourselves than we expect of others. You cannot respond to offensive speech with violence without begetting more violence.
And I so strongly believe that the great religions of the world are stronger than any insults. They have withstood offense for centuries. Refraining from violence, then, is not a sign of weakness in one’s faith; it is absolutely the opposite, a sign that one’s faith is unshakable.
So tonight, we must come together and recommit ourselves to working toward a future marked by understanding and acceptance rather than distrust, hatred, and fear. We can pledge that whenever one person speaks out in ignorance and bigotry, ten voices will answer. They will answer resoundingly against the offense and the insult, answering ignorance with enlightenment, answering hatred with understanding, answering darkness with light; that if one person commits a violent act in the name of religion, millions will stand up and condemn it out of strength.
In times like these, it can be easy to despair that some differences are irreconcilable, some mountains too steep to climb; we will therefore never reach the level of understanding and peacefulness that we seek, and which I believe the great religions of the world call us to pursue. But that’s not what I believe, and I don’t think it’s what you believe either here tonight. Part of what makes our country so special is we keep trying. We keep working. We keep investing in our future. We keep supporting the next generation, believing that young people can keep us moving forward in a positive direction.
So tonight I think it’s important that we talk not just about that better tomorrow that we all seek, but also about some of the things – the real, practical, tangible things – that young people are doing to help shape that better future.
Two years ago in this room, at our Eid reception, we launched a program called Generation Change to lead a grassroots agenda of positive engagement with Muslim communities. And I asked the young Muslim leaders in the audience that night to be our unofficial ambassadors, to help build personal connections, seek out partners in other countries. And I can report to you tonight they did not disappoint. In a few minutes, you’re going to meet some of these young leaders, each with a powerful story to tell.
The Generation Change network that started in this room now circles the globe. We are building an international alliance of young people who want to drive change in their own communities. They act as mentors, spark respectful debates, simply offer words of encouragement when needed. But most importantly, they inspire others to keep expanding the circle of mutual understanding and respect, one person at a time.
Even as we work to spread tolerance more broadly, we also are working to deepen our appreciation for the experiences of others. Our 2012 Hours Against Hate initiative encourages young people to put themselves in another person’s shoes through service projects. So far, young people from all over the world have pledged thousands of volunteer hours to help people from a different background, to see them as a fellow human being, not a stereotype, not a caricature, but another real live person – people who don’t look like you, live like you, pray like you, but with whom we will share this planet. And therefore, we have work to do.
People of faith and conscience are called to be the leaders of tolerance. In my tradition, like all traditions, we are expected to love one another. And together, we have to translate that into better understanding and cooperation. I’m particularly pleased that the young people you will hear from tonight are really setting an example, not only for young people elsewhere in the world but, frankly, for us who are older as well.
Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
September 13, 2012
How to Read Egypt, Libya Attacks
Libya has just gone through a violent upheaval in which its supreme leader [Muammar] Qaddafi was overthrown, in which weapons flowed into that country quite openly and quite freely. This is a country awash in weapons. This is what happens in civil wars, and this is what makes the situation after these wars end so dangerously.
We have to keep this in mind as we talk about arming opposition groups in other countries or watching opposition groups in other countries become armed. It’s a situation that remains in a number of countries in the Middle East where you have militia groups operating. Look at Lebanon today. You have Hezbollah, which is a political group that is heading the government while at the same time has its own independent militia with advanced weapons, and that has been the situation for a number of years now. One of the definitions of a state is that it has a monopoly on the use of force. Well, we are seeing in a number of places in the Middle East that that is not the case, and that is a recipe for violence and danger to people in the country.
Background & Analysis
European Parliament resolution on Syria
The European Parliament,
– having regard to its previous resolutions on Syria,
– having regard to the Foreign Affairs Council’s conclusions on Syria of 23 July, 25 June, 14 May, 23 April and 23 March 2012; having regard to the European Council’s conclusions on Syria of 29 June 2012,
– having regard to the statements by the Vice-President of the Commission/High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy on Syria of 15 March, 14 and 27 April, 27 May, 3 and 18 June, 6, 8 and 20 July, 3, 4, 8 and 18 August, and 5 September 2012,
– having regard to the statements by the Commissioner responsible for International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response on Syria of 17 and 31 July and 29 August 2012,
– having regard to the three-day visit of the President of the International Committee of the Red Cross to Syria from 4 to 6 September 2012,
– having regard to the decision taken on 17 August 2012 by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and League of Arab States Secretary-General Nabil El Araby to appoint Lakhdar Brahimi as the new Joint Special Representative for Syria,
– having regard to Council Regulation (EU) No 509/2012 of 15 June 2012 amending Regulation (EU) No 36/2012 concerning restrictive measures in view of the situation in Syria, and the subsequent Council decisions enforcing these measures,
– having regard to UN General Assembly resolution 66/253 of 3 August 2012 on the situation in the Syrian Arab Republic,
– having regard to UN Human Rights Council resolutions 19/1 of 1 March 2012, S-19/1 of 1 June 2012 and 20/L.22 of 6 July 2012 on the human rights situation in Syria,
– having regard to the report of the UN Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria of 15 August 2012,
– having regard to the decision taken by the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) on 13 August 2012 of to suspend Syria’s membership,
– having regard to the National Pact and the Common Political Vision for the Transition in Syria issued following the Syrian opposition conference held under the auspices of the League of Arab States in Cairo on 2-3 July 2012,
– having regard to the outcome of the Action Group meeting in Geneva on 30 June 2012,
– having regard to the Annan Plan and United Nations Security Council resolutions 2042, 2043 and 2059,
– having regard to the conclusions and recommendations of ‘The Day After project: Supporting a Democratic Transition in Syria’, published in August 2012,
– having regard to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948,
– having regard to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Optional Protocol thereto on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, and the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, to all of which Syria is a party,
– having regard to Rule 110(2) and (4) of its Rules of Procedure,
A. whereas, according to the UN, since the start of the violent crackdown on peaceful protesters in Syria in March 2011, nearly 20 000 people, most of them civilians, have been killed; whereas heavy violence, such as the use of heavy artillery and shelling against populated areas, and horrific killings by the Syrian army, security forces and the Shabiha, as well as by various opposition forces, have continuously increased; whereas there have been several massacres and mass targeted (point-blank) killings of men, women and children; whereas the use of torture, mass arrests and widespread destruction of populated areas has dramatically escalated over the last months; whereas cities and towns throughout Syria are being kept under siege and are being bombarded, inter alia by means of helicopters and fighter jets, by government-led forces; whereas through the increased militarisation of the conflict the situation is sliding into civil war;
B. whereas any further militarisation of the situation in Syria would have a serious impact on its civilian population, which is already facing a rapidly deteriorating humanitarian situation, and would also continue to affect the wider region, in particular Jordan and Lebanon, in terms of security and stability, with unpredictable implications and consequences;
C. whereas, according to UN estimates, an estimated 5 000 people were killed in August as a result of the ongoing fighting, which means that over 20 000 people have died since the start of the conflict; whereas, due to the intensification of the violence and the precarious security and humanitarian conditions in Syria, neighbouring countries, especially in the last weeks, are assisting a significantly escalating number of Syrian citizens seeking refuge, particularly in Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon; whereas 235 000 refugees from Syria have been registered or are awaiting registration with the UN High Commission for Refugees; whereas over 75 % of theses refugees are women and children; whereas tens of thousands of refugees are not registering; whereas more than 100 000 refugees are believed to have fled Syria across the borders of Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq and Turkey at an average rate of 500-2000 per day during August; whereas, according to UN estimates, more than 1.2 million people have been internally displaced within Syria and around 3 million are in need of urgent humanitarian assistance; whereas the Syrian regime has deliberately cut off access to food, water, electricity and medical supplies to entire communities, such as in Homs and, more recently, in Aleppo; whereas Turkey has asked the UN Security Council to consider setting up a safe zone for civilians guarded by neighbouring countries;
D. whereas on 2 August 2012 Kofi Annan announced his resignation as UN-LAS Joint Special Envoy for Syria as a result of Syrian regime intransigence, increasing armed violence and the failure of a divided Security Council to rally forcefully behind his efforts to implement the six-point peace plan; whereas former Algerian Foreign Minister Lakhdar Brahimi has recently been appointed the new Joint Special Representative for Syria of the UN and the League of Arab States;
E. whereas the Syrian regime has lost all credibility and legitimacy as a representative of the Syrian people;
F. whereas vetoes by Russia and China have prevented the UN Security Council from adopting a resolution endorsing the outcome of the efforts of the Action Group for Syria and have prevented the introduction of the proposed measures to enforce compliance with the six-point Annan Plan under Article 41 of the UN Charter; whereas the international community has thus so far failed to unite and give an adequate response to the crisis in Syria;
G. whereas President Bashar al-Assad and his authoritarian regime have no place in the future of Syria; whereas the President must step down to avoid any further escalation of the crisis and to allow a peaceful and democratic transition to take place in the country; whereas several former political and military leaders of the regime as well as ambassadors have defected to neighbouring countries and beyond;
H. whereas a credible alternative is needed to the current regime; whereas this alternative should be inclusive and representative of the diversity of Syrian society and should fully respect the universal values of democracy, the rule of law, human rights and fundamental freedoms, with special regard for the rights of ethnic, cultural and religious minorities and of women; whereas the establishment of an inclusive and representative provisional government by opposition forces may contribute to this alternative;
I. whereas the EU has imposed targeted sanctions on Syria in several rounds, and has further strengthened its arms embargo against Syria; whereas despite an EU embargo in force on weapons, munitions and other military equipments, as well as a ban on the export of monitoring technologies, several reported incidents involving arms shipments through EU waters and leaked details of business transactions between EU companies and various Syrian entities, groups and persons, covered by the EU’s sanctions, have indicated the EU’s internal incompetence to implement its own decisions and regulations;
J. whereas various external actors and states, either directly or through regional channels and neighbouring countries, continue to actively support all the parties to the conflict, with financial, operational, logistical and tactical support and aid, including the supply of weapons, munitions and all other types of military equipment, the provision of logistical assistance, the provision of communication tools and all kinds of assistance that may be used for military purposes, highlighting the pan-regional nature of the conflict; whereas further militarisation of the conflict can only bring greater suffering to the Syrian people and the region as a whole;
K. whereas the Commission announced on 7 September 2012 that an additional EUR 50 million in humanitarian assistance would be mobilised to support people in need of such assistance within Syria and those crossing the borders; whereas according to ECHO the EU has already provided EUR 142 million and the total EU assistance, including aid from Member States, amounts to about EUR 224 million;
L. whereas Syrian opposition representatives have held several meetings over the past months with the aim of overcoming internal divergences and creating a united front, and issued a ‘National Pact’ and a ‘Common Political Vision for the Transition in Syria’, as well as the conclusions and recommendations of ‘The Day After project: Supporting a Democratic Transition in Syria’; whereas, despite all efforts, internal divisions and tensions within this opposition persist;
M. whereas, on 1 July 2012, the Action Group for Syria, meeting in Geneva, agreed on principles and guidelines for a Syrian-led transition which includes the establishment of a transitional government body exercising full executive powers;
1. Reiterates its condemnation in the strongest possible terms of the ever increasing use of indiscriminate violence by President Assad’s regime against the Syrian civilian population, in particular the targeted killing of children and women and mass executions in villages; expresses its deepest concern at the gravity of the human rights violations and possible crimes against humanity authorised and/or perpetrated by the Syrian authorities, the Syrian army, security forces and affiliated militias; condemns the summary extrajudicial executions and all other forms of human rights violations committed by groups and forces opposing the Assad regime;
2. Applauds the efforts of neighbouring countries in hosting and providing humanitarian relief to refugees from Syria and calls for increased international support and assistance in this context; stresses the crucial importance of finding a sustainable response to the humanitarian crisis both within Syria and among refugees from Syria in neighbouring countries; urges neighbouring countries to continue to provide protection to refugees from Syria and displaced persons and to refrain, in line with their international obligations, from expelling and returning any such persons to Syria; calls on the EU to take appropriate responsible measures regarding the possible influx of refugees into its Members States; stresses the need to cooperate with the Red Cross; welcomes the EU’s readiness to offer additional support, including financial resources, to help neighbouring countries, including Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan, to host the increasing number of refugees from Syria, and urges the EU and its Member States to step up their efforts to find alternative ways to deliver humanitarian assistance to the people of Syria, in spite all the obstacles and difficulties;
3. Calls on the Syrian regime to allow the swift provision of humanitarian assistance and full access to humanitarian organisations and the international media Syria, and to facilitate the implementation of humanitarian pauses in order to allow the safe delivery of humanitarian aid; stresses again that international humanitarian law must be fully respected by all those involved in the crisis; stresses that medical attention should never be withheld from those who are injured and in need of help, and calls on all the parties involved to protect civilians, allow full and unimpeded access to food, water, electricity and refrain from using all forms of intimidation and violence against patients, doctors, medics and aid workers;
4. Extends its condolences to the families of the victims; reiterates its solidarity with the Syrian people’s struggle for freedom, dignity and democracy, and applauds their courage and determination, especially with regard to women;
5. Calls on all armed actors to put an immediate end to violence in Syria; calls on the Syrian Government to withdraw the Syrian army from besieged towns and cities without delay, to immediately release all detained protesters, political prisoners, human rights defenders, bloggers and journalists;
6. Deplores the fact that the UN Security Council has failed to act and has not agreed on a resolution to add more robust and effective pressure in order to end the violence in Syria; reiterates its call on UN Security Council members, in particular Russia and China, to uphold their responsibility to put an end to the violence and repression against the Syrian people, including by supporting forced compliance with UNSC resolutions 2042 and 2043; continues to support the efforts of the EU and its Member States in this regard; calls on the VP/HR to do her utmost to secure the adoption of a UNSC resolution, exerting effective diplomatic pressure on both Russia and China;
7. Stresses that the EU should stand ready to adopt further measures and to continue to explore within the UNSC all options within the Responsibility to Protect (RtoP) framework, in close cooperation with the US, Turkey and the League of Arab States in order to assist the Syrian people and to halt the bloodshed;
8. Supports calls by several opposition groups and the Turkish Government to establish safe havens along the Turkish-Syrian border, and possibly within Syria, as well as the creation of humanitarian corridors by the international community; calls on the VP/HR to intensify discussions with Turkey, the Arab League and the Syrian opposition on the establishment of these safe havens to take in Syrian refugees and allow those persecuted by the regime to find refuge and protection;
9. Reiterates its call for President Assad and his regime to step aside immediately, so as to allow a peaceful, inclusive and democratic Syrian-led transition to take place as soon as possible;
10. Calls on all parties to agree on (local) ceasefires as soon as possible, so as to allow a broader negotiated and meaningful ceasefire;
11. Expresses its concern about further militarisation of the conflict and sectarian violence; notes the role of different regional actors, including the delivery of arms, and is concerned about the spill-over effects of the Syrian conflict in neighbouring countries; calls on the Council to consider the adoption of additional restrictive measures against external actors and groups involved in operations on the ground to actively support the Bashar al-Assad regime;
12. Condemns the Syrian regime’s expressed intention to use chemical weapons against ‘external terrorist threats’, reminds President Assad of his government’s obligations under the Geneva protocol on the non-use of chemical weapons and calls on the Syrian authorities to rigorously abide by their international obligations;
13. Supports the EU’s ongoing efforts to step up the pressure on President Assad’s regime through restrictive measures, calls on the EU to consider broadening the scope of its restrictive measures to external entities or groups that undisputedly provide or facilitate crucial financial and operational support to the Syrian authorities;
14. Welcomes the decision of the Islamic Summit Conference of 14-15 August 2012 to suspend the Syrian Arab Republic’s membership of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation and all its subsidiary organs, specialised and affiliated institutions;
15. Welcomes the efforts made by Syrian opposition representatives to create a united front of opposition forces, as well as the recently issued ‘National Pact’, ‘Common Political Vision for the Transition in Syria’, and conclusions and recommendations of ‘The Day After project: Supporting a Democratic Transition in Syria’; encourages the Syrian opposition to continue on this path with the aim of creating a credible alternative to the regime and urges the VP/HR and EU Member States to make every effort to unify the Syrian opposition; welcomes the strong support shown by Turkey; Lebanon and Jordan for the Syrian population; urges the VP/HR to make every effort to start discussions with the authorities of Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan, the Arab League and the Syrian opposition on preparing the peaceful transition for the post-Assad Syria;
16. Reiterates its strong endorsement of the call by the UN Human Rights Commissioner for a referral by the UNSC of the situation in Syria to the ICC for a formal investigation; strongly commits itself to ensure that all those responsible for human rights violations and violations of international law will be identified and held accountable; strongly supports the work of the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria, which is aimed at investigating all violations of international human rights and humanitarian law committed in the country so as to ensure that those responsible are held to account, and calls on EU Member States during the 21st session of the UNHRC to ensure that the Commission can continue its work with adequate reinforcements if necessary;
17. Calls for a peaceful and genuine Syrian-led political transition to democracy which meets the legitimate demands of the Syrian people and is based on an inclusive dialogue involving all democratic forces and components within Syrian society, with a view to launching a process of deep democratic reform, that also takes account of the need to ensure national reconciliation and is committed to ensuring respect for the rights and freedoms of minorities including ethnic, religious, cultural and other minorities;
18. Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the Vice-President of the Commission/High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the governments and parliaments of the Member States, the Government and Parliament of the Russian Federation, the Government and Parliament of the People’s Republic of China, the Government and Parliament of the Republic of Turkey, the Government and Consultative Assembly of the State of Qatar, the Government and House of Representatives of the United States of America, the Government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the Government and Parliament of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, the Government and Parliament of the Republic of Lebanon, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, the Secretary-General of the League of Arab States and the Government and Parliament of the Syrian Arab Republic.
The European Parliament,
– having regard to its previous reports and resolutions on Russia, in particular its resolutions of 15 March 2012 on the outcome of the presidential elections in Russia, of 16 February 2012 on the upcoming presidential election in Russia, of 14 December 2011 on the State Duma elections and of 7 July 2011 on the preparations for the Russian State Duma elections in December 2011,
– having regard to the ongoing negotiations for a new agreement providing a new comprehensive framework for EU-Russia relations, as well as to the ‘Partnership for Modernisation’ initiated in 2010,
– having regard to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and to the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, which states that everyone shall be entitled to a fair and public hearing by a competent, independent and impartial tribunal established by law,
– having regard to the Constitution of Russia, in particular Article 118 thereof, which states that justice in the Russian Federation shall be administered by courts alone, and Article 120 thereof, which provides that judges are independent and are subordinate only to the Russian Constitution and the federal law,
– having regard to the Statement of 17 August 2012 by EU High Representative Catherine Ashton on the sentencing of ‘Pussy Riot’ punk band members in Russia,
– having regard to the request by the Russian Prosecutor-General to vote on early dismissal of the Just Russia Member of the Duma Gennady Gutkov on 12 September 2012,
– having regard to Rule 110(2) and (4) of its Rules of Procedure,
A. whereas the Russian Federation, as a full member of the Council of Europe and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, has committed itself to the principles of democracy, the rule of law and respect for human rights; whereas because of several serious violations of the rule of law and the adoption of restrictive laws during the past months there are increasing concerns with regard to Russia’s compliance with international and national obligations;
B. whereas the European Union remains committed to further deepening and developing the relations between EU and Russia, which is shown by the Union’s commitment to engage seriously in negotiating a new framework agreement for the further development of EU‑Russia relations, and whereas the European Union and Russia have established deep and comprehensive relations, particularly in the energy, economic and business sectors, and have become mutually interdependent in the global economy;
C. whereas the human rights situation in Russia has deteriorated drastically in the last few months and the Russian authorities have recently adopted a series of laws which contain ambiguous provisions and could be used to further restrict opposition and civil society actors and hinder freedom of expression and assembly; whereas such aspects should be addressed in due course as a priority issue, in particular during EU-Russia bilateral meetings and negotiations;
D. whereas the deaths of Anna Politkovskaya, Natalia Estemirova, Anastasia Barburova, Stanislav Markelov and Sergei Magnitsky remain unaccounted for;
E. whereas Mikhail Khordorkovsky and his business associate Platon Lebedev were given a guilty verdict for embezzlement by Moscow’s Khamovnichesky district court on 30 December 2010; whereas the prosecution, the trial and the verdict were internationally portrayed as being politically motivated;
F. whereas the case of Sergei Magnitsky is only one of several cases of abuse of power by the Russian law enforcement authorities, strongly violating the rule of law and leaving those guilty of causing his death still unpunished; whereas there are a multitude of other judicial cases where politically constructed reasons are being used to eliminate political competition and threaten civil society;
G. whereas the sentencing of the members of the Russian punk group Pussy Riot to two years’ imprisonment for a protest performance against President Vladimir Putin in a Moscow Orthodox cathedral is disproportionate;
H. whereas the Duma is scheduled to vote on 12 September 2012 to lift the mandate of Gennady Gudkov for business activities during his mandate without following the necessary democratic procedures; whereas, for the sake of the rule of law, parliamentary rules should apply equally and impartially to all members of the Duma; whereas other members of the Fair Russia faction such as Dimitri Gudkov and Ilya Ponomarev face similar accusations;
I. whereas the new NGO legislation and the legislation on the right to freedom of assembly could be used to suppress civil society, stifle opposing political views and harass NGOs, democratic opposition and the media; whereas the Russian Parliament adopted a bill in July 2012 granting the status of ‘foreign agent’ to Russian non-commercial organisations engaged in political activities and financed from abroad;
J. whereas, contrary to the statements and pledges by President Putin and Prime Minister Medvedev, there is a growing pressure on the political freedoms of Russian citizens; whereas President Putin has declared the urgent need to overcome enormous corruption in Russia and has made a public commitment to strengthening the rule of law in Russia and raised concerns regarding the independence of Russia’s judiciary and legal system;
1. Notes that meaningful, constructive EU-Russia relations depend on the efforts to strengthen democracy, the rule of law and respect for fundamental rights; underlines the fact that the medium- and long-term political and economic stability and development of Russia are dependent on the prevalence of the rule of law and the emergence of true democratic choice;
2. Takes the view that Russia, as a member of the Council of Europe and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, should meet the obligations it has signed up to; points out that recent developments have moved in the opposite direction to the reforms necessary to improve democratic standards, the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary in Russia;
3. Welcomes the Supreme Court decision of 25 July 2012 to review both the Khoderkovsky and the Lebedev cases in line with the recommendation of the Presidential Council on Human Rights of December 2011; notes the shortening of Lebedev’s sentence by three years; calls for the continuation of a comprehensive review of these cases based on Russian international commitments to fair and transparent trials and the findings and recommendations of the Presidential Council on Human Rights to be fully respected and implemented with regard to the case of Mr Khodorkovsky;
4. Calls on the Russian authorities to bring the perpetrators to justice in the murder cases of Anna Politkovskaya and Natalya Yestemirova, and urges them to conduct a credible and independent investigation of the Magnitstky and other cases, and to put an end to the omnipresent impunity and pervasive corruption in the country;
5. Expresses its deep concern regarding other politically motivated trials, in particular the criminal prosecution of scientists accused of espionage for cooperating with foreign scientific institutions, the conviction of opposition activist Taisia Osipova to eight years of penal colony in a trial referred to as politically motivated, using dubious and possibly fabricated evidence and not meeting the standards of a fair trial, the detention of, and politically motivated criminal charges against, more than a dozen participants in the protest demonstration in Moscow on 6 May who were wrongly accused in connection with the alleged ‘mass riots’, and the criminal investigation into opposition activists, such as Alexei Navalny, Boris Nemtsov and Sergey Udalcov;
6. Expresses its deep disappointment with the verdict and the disproportionate sentence issued by the Khamovnichesky District Court in Russia in the case of Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Maria Alyokhina and Ekaterina Samutsevitch, members of the punk band ‘Pussy Riot’; notes with concern that this case adds to the recent upsurge in the politically motivated intimidation and prosecution of opposition activists in the Russian Federation, a trend that is of growing concern to the European Union; reaffirms its belief that this sentence will be reviewed and reversed in line with Russia’s international commitments;
7. Takes note of the Prosecutor-General’s request to vote on early termination of Gennady Gudkov’ status of deputy in the Duma for business activity during to his parliamentary mandate, in contradiction of Article 289 of the Russian Criminal Code; stresses that the initiation of the parliamentary political procedure to strip Gennady Gudkov, a member of the opposition Just Russia party, of his parliamentary mandate is widely perceived as intimidation targeting the legitimate political activity of an opposition party which supported demands by the protest movement; calls on Russia to refrain from using laws arbitrarily for the purpose of clamping down on Members of the opposition;
8. Expresses, however, its concern about the deteriorating climate for the development of civil society in Russia, in particular with regard to the recent adoption of a series of laws governing demonstrations, NGOs, defamation and the internet which contain ambiguous provisions and could lead to arbitrary enforcement; reminds the Russian authorities that a modern and prosperous society needs to recognise and protect the individual and collective rights of all its citizens; calls, in this context, on the Russian competent bodies to amend the new laws on NGOs so as to safeguard citizens’ associations that receive financial support from reputable foreign funds from political persecution;
9. Expresses concern also about the law on extremism in terms of the wide discretion in the interpretation of its basic notions on ‘extremist actions’ and ‘extremist organisations’, which, according to the Venice Commission of the Council of Europe, could lead to arbitrariness and restriction of the freedoms of association, expression and belief; calls on the Russian authorities to address these concerns by amending the law;
10. Recalls that former President Medvedev established a working group on reform of the electoral system and improving respect for the rule of law and fundamental rights in Russia; recalls that the European Parliament has urged the Russian authorities to pursue these reforms and has constantly offered EU support, including through the framework provided by the Partnership for Modernisation;
11. Condemns the recently adopted legislation to criminalise public information about sexual orientation and gender identity in various Russian regions and similar plans at federal level; reminds the Russian authorities of its obligations to uphold the freedom of expression and the rights of LGBT people;
12. Calls on the HR/VP and the Commission to offer consistent, deep support to civil society activists and representatives of the new grassroots social movement; calls on the EU to exert constant pressure on the Russian authorities to meet the OSCE standards of human rights, democracy, the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary;
13. Underlines the importance of the continuous exchange of views on human rights with Russia within the EU-Russia Human Rights Consultations as a way to consolidate our interoperability in all the fields of cooperation, and demands an improvement in the format of these meetings in order to gain effectiveness, with special attention for common action against racism and xenophobia, and for this process to be opened to effective input from the European Parliament, the State Duma and the human rights NGOs, and expects the dialogue to take place alternately in Russia and in an EU Member State;
14. Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the governments and parliaments of the Member States, the Government and Parliament of the Russian Federation, the Council of Europe and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe.
 Texts adopted, P7_TA(2012)0088.
 Text adopted, P7_TA(2012)0054
 Text adopted, P7_TA(2011)0575.
 Text adopted, P7_TA(2011)0335.
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