30 septembre 2013

Between Chapter VI & VII

All through the Syrian crisis, both Russia and USA have applied pressure on different parties. This period has lead the two super powers to reach an understanding in order to avoid the collapse of Syria into endless chaos, recognizing the need for a political solution. From this point, the Russian initiative has represented the spark of hope for such a settlement.
As dealing with the Syrian crisis has shifted to the UN Security Council the new struggle between the super powers revolves around the issue of chemical weapons and “Geneva II”. This can be seen in the dispute  between Moscow who is pushing to adopt Chapter VI of the UN Charter that deals with the peaceful negotiation and settlement of disputes and Washington that prefers adopting Chapter VII, which allows for a wider range of military and non-military actions to restore and maintain peace. The Russians are looking for a political resolution, while the US insists that the priority is to shape a new full-power transitional government.
But why is the US insisting on adopting chapter VII?
Since the beginning of the crisis in Syria, American policy has tied a settlement in Syrian to a regional one. As such, Chapter VII would logically give full control of terms and implications for a political settlement. Moreover, by the adopting Chapter VII, Washington can maintain the effectiveness of its international alliance.
On the other hand, the Russian policy of adopting Chapter VI allows it to maintain its position. With a priority on ending the violence in Syria, it can keep all of the pending issues of the Middle East far from any military options. Not surprisingly, the Iranians also prefer this option. By adopting such a policy, Moscow aims to weaken the American alliances, and to position itself as a key part of regional issues.
The dispute between adopting Chapter VI and VII will undoubtedly have an impact on both a regional and international level. Some protagonists will pull back from the dispute, while others will seek to leverage it to reposition themselves. The Iranians for example have skillfully adopted this policy and we are likely to see a shift in relations between the US and Iran towards more open communications.
This re-positioning might not be limited to the Iranians, other regional players may also take the opportunity. While Turkey is dealing with internal issues, Egypt is preparing to return to the regional arena. The Saudis appear to be influenced by the active Iranian diplomacy, and may be pushed to adopt progressive steps towards restoring the balance of regional relations.
In the end, there will also be impacts on Syria and some can already be seen in various statements by Syrian officials. Even Jordan won’t be far from the regional and international changes.

Dr. Amer Al Sabaileh

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