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July 27, 2017

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Libya intervention weighs heavily on solutions for Syria

UNITED NATIONS -- As the ongoing conflict in Syria churns out ghastly humanitarian carnage, diplomatic efforts to halt the violence are shadowed by last year's Libyan intervention, which morphed into a six-month-long military operation to topple a tyrant.

So when the U.N. Security Council met again on Britain's initiative to debate the situation in the Middle East, while there was a focused theme stop the spiral of violence in Syria, at the same time there was an underlying and unspoken agreement not to introduce the threat of outside military force.

Literally one year ago this week, the Security Council passed a powerful but legally open-ended resolution to protect the besieged Libyans civilians in Benghazi which were in the gun sights of Colonel Gadhafi's regime. But acting under the "responsibility to protect," the Anglo/French and later American mission quickly evolved into a full blown NATO air assault throughout the vastness of Libya which ushered in regime change.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov clearly alluded to last year's Libya resolution and said of Syria: "Whatever goals might be set in any given situation they should not be achieved by misleading the international community or manipulating UNSC decisions." This was a clear reference (and regret) to Moscow having abstained on last year's Libyan resolution passed on St. Patrick Day.

Now a year later, there's hesitation to give the Security Council's blessing to operations which could involve varied military options. Nonetheless there's the redoubling of a diplomatic surge with the Damascus peace mission of former U.N, Secretary General Kofi Annan to try to defuse the widening crisis between Bashar al-Assad's dictatorial rule and a plethora of dissident factions both religious and political.

U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon asserted, "what started as a peaceful, popular call for long-denied democratic rights has turned to into a dangerous spiral of violence, leading both Syria and the region into uncertainty." Secretary General Ban clearly placed blame on the Assad regime for both its "disproportionate use of force" against its own people in what he called "shameful operations."

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stressed the Syrian regime's "horrific campaign of violence," while imploring, "We believe that now is the time for all nations, even those who have previously blocked our efforts, to stand behind the humanitarian and political approach spelled out by the Arab League."

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