The Two-Way
5:56 pm
Wed May 30, 2012

Ambassador Susan Rice: The Best Solution In Syria Is Still Political

Originally published on Wed May 30, 2012 5:59 pm

The situation in Syria is obviously at a crossroads. After the massacre in Houla that killed more than 100 people — many of them women and children — the diplomatic engine has picked up steam.

As Mark told us earlier today: Turkey expelled all of Syria's diplomatic staff and the country's honorary consul living in Southern California told NPR that he had resigned, saying he "could no longer bear witness to such barbaric crimes."

The United States Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice has also been on a media blitz today giving first a briefing to reporters and then interviews to MSNBC and CNN.

The big takeway is that United States — along with the Security Council — believes that if the Annan plan fails, Syria could easily descend into full-scale civil war that could have a destabilizing effect in the region.

Rice also said that the best solution for the country and the international community is the implementation of the plan, which calls for a ceasefire.

In her interview with MSNBC, Rice said at best, Syria goes the way of Yemen — that is with a political solution that saw a regime change.

Rice also said she only sees three possible scenarios: In the first and best case, the Annan plan is implemented.

In the second, the Annan plan isn't implemented and the international community tries to seek enforcement through sanctions and "chapter 7, the enforcement provision of the U.N. charter."

In the third, Syria descends into a proxy war in which "outsiders are supporting the opposition or the government through arms and other means. That would be exceedingly destabilizing and that's why that's not our first choice."

In both interviews, Rice was asked about criticism from those who believe the Annan plan has failed. Rice was also asked about criticism from the Mitt Romney campaign, which issued a statement yesterday.

"President Obama's lack of leadership has resulted in a policy of paralysis that has watched Assad slaughter 10,000 individuals," Romney said. "We should increase pressure on Russia to cease selling arms to the Syrian government and to end its obstruction at the United Nations. And we should work with partners to arm the opposition so they can defend themselves."

To that Rice said:

"Our view has been that the best way to resolve this, if at all possible, is not through intensifying the militarization, not by providing further arms into what is already a hot conflict but to try to resolve it through nonmilitary means through a diplomatic and political process... For this to become a proxy war with countries all over the region and beyond funneling weapons in there is basically conceding a massive fire burning in that region, which for those who are advocating arming the opposition, they ought to consider the consequences of that approach.

"The should also ask, frankly who are they arming inside of the Syrian opposition? You know and we know it is not a unified opposition. It's fragmented. They don't have the common command and control. There are some extremist elements mixed in there. We know much less about the leadership and the intentions of the Syrian opposition than we did even of the Libyan opposition at the time. And i want to remind you that we did not arm the Libyan opposition."

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