By: John Irish and Patrick Vignal
PARIS, France – France will propose making United Nations envoy Kofi Annan’s peace plan for Syria obligatory by invoking the U.N.’s “Chapter 7″ provision, Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said on Wednesday, describing the conflict there as a “civil war”.
Chapter 7 of the U.N. charter allows the Security Council to authorize actions ranging from sanctions to military intervention. But Russia and China have previously vetoed two strong Security Council resolutions against Syria.
Fabius, who made his strongest comments on the Syrian crisis since taking up his position in May, said Paris had decided to increase pressure on Damascus after an escalation in the violence.
“The situation in Syria has taken an even more serious and horrid turn,” he said. “We have been informed that children are being used as human shields by the regime, placed in front of tanks, tortured, raped and assassinated.
“Every day dozens and dozens of Syrians are dying at the hands of Bashar al-Assad’s regime. We have therefore decided to strengthen our efforts to stop this regime of death and blood.”
Fabius said he hoped Russia would agree to using Chapter 7, a measure which can authorize the use of force, and he said that a no-fly zone was an option that would be under discussion to stop the “massacres”.
“We propose making the implementation of the Annan plan compulsory,” he told a news conference. “We need to move up a gear at the Security Council and place the Annan plan under Chapter 7 – that is to say make it compulsory under pain of very heavy sanctions.”
A French diplomatic source said work for a draft resolution at the U.N. would start soon saying that as the Russians have continuously supported the plan this was an opportunity for them to show that.
“It’s calling their bluff. If they say no, then we won’t put it to vote, but after that it becomes complicated.”
Fabius said he wanted EU foreign ministers to adopt tougher sanctions at the their next meeting on June 25 not just on Assad, but also military officials who were responsible.
The international community would prepare a list of second-ranking military officials who would be pursued by international justice, alongside President Assad and his entourage, he said. He also urged citizens to openly oppose the government.
“They must understand that the only future for Syria is resisting oppression. The time for taking a decision has arrived. They have to jump ship,” Fabius said.
Paris would also take part in a “contact group” proposed by Annan for the end of June of key nations involved in the crisis with the exception of Iran, he said.
“To stop this civil war from getting worse, we have to find a way for Assad to leave power and find a way for the opposition to create an alternative transition. But it’s clear today … that it is a civil war.”