For the night of 31 October 2012
China- Syria: Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi elaborated China's new four-point proposal for a political resolution to the Syrian conflict, urging all parties in Syria to cease fire and begin political transition at an early date.
Yang made the proposal during his talks with UN-Arab League Joint Special Envoy Lakhdar Brahimi, who is visiting China for the first time since replacing former UN chief Kofi Annan as the international mediator on Syria on 1 September.
The text that follows is a direct quote from the Chinese news service.
"To facilitate the political settlement of the Syrian issue, China proposes the following:
Firstly, parties in Syria should make every effort to stop fighting and violence, and cooperate actively with the mediation efforts of Brahimi. They should implement effective steps toward a cease-fire, for example region by region or phase by phase, expand the areas of cease-fire, realize disengagement, and eventually bring an end to all armed conflict and violence."
"Secondly, Syria should appoint empowered interlocutors as soon as possible so that, assisted by Brahimi and the international community, they can formulate through consultations a roadmap of political transition, establish a transitional governing body of broad representation, and implement political transition so as to end the Syrian crisis at an early date. To ensure a safe, stable and calm transition, the continuity and effectiveness of Syria's governmental institutions must be maintained."
"Thirdly, the international community should work with greater urgency and responsibility to fully cooperate with and support Brahimi's mediation efforts and make real progress in implementing the communique of the Geneva foreign ministers' meeting of the Action Group for Syria, Mr. Annan's six-point plan and Security Council resolutions. The positive efforts of the Arab League and countries in the region in search of a political settlement should be valued."
"Fourthly, all parties involved should take concrete steps to ease the humanitarian crisis in Syria. The international community should increase humanitarian assistance to the Syrian people and ensure proper resettlement of refugees beyond the Syrian border and timely aid for those in need within Syria. The Syrian government and related groups should render full cooperation to the work of the United Nations and neutral institutions to provide humanitarian assistance in all conflict-affected regions and ensure the safety of their personnel. At the same time, humanitarian issues should not be politicized and humanitarian assistance should not be militarized."
Comment: The plan boils down to ceasefire, political reform, international backing for a political settlement and humanitarian relief. The Chinese have no expectation that they will be accepted, but they put the US in a position of favoring violence as the means that are justified by the ends.
The Chinese proposal has the moral high ground because the Syrian rebellion appears to have been seized by Salafists, fundamentalists and al-Qaida agents, who are apparently on the same side as the US in wanting Asad to be removed.
Syria-Jordan: The threat of a fundamentalist Islamist government in Damascus that is hostile to Israel and to Arab monarchies explains Jordan's apparent policy shift in favor of a peaceful settlement in Syria, even if that means Asad remains in power in Damascus. The King fears that US policy supporting the overthrow of Asad could lead ineluctably to the overthrow of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, next.
NightWatch judges that the King's fears are justified. If Asad and the Alawites fall, all of the Arab monarchies will be next, from Morocco to Bahrain. The Arab spring has become a living system phenomenon that has achieved a life of its own.
Tunisia: Reacting to wave of violent protests by Islamic fundamentalists, President Moncef Marzouki on Wednesday extended a state of emergency, which grants police special powers of intervention, until 1 February 2013, the official TAP news agency reported.
Comment: The security situation is deteriorating again in Tunisia. President Marzouki is using the same tactics that Ben Ali did to suppress and kill the Islamist opposition. US support of the overthrow of Ben Ali only achieved a delay in the continuing violent internal instability, interrupted by an election that brought the Islamist Ennahda party to power. Ben Ali got out alive, but Marzouki might not.
Libya: Update. On 31 October the Libyan General National Congress (GNC) approved the new government led by prime minister-elect Ali Zaydan, during a session which was broadcast live by the national TV channel.
Comment: No additional demonstrations were reported, but none of the real tribal power brokers in Libya judge this new government has any significance. It exists mainly to make the Western powers feel good about Libya after having spent so much.
The death of the US ambassador and staff indicate the result of NATO efforts has been to reinforce the fragmentation of Libya, turning it back more than 100 years, without doing anything to eliminate Benghazi in eastern Libya as a notorious base for Islamic terrorism that spreads throughout the Middle East, including to Syria.
End of NightWatch for 31 October.
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