The ongoing violence in Syria is the main issue at the 67th UN General Assembly. Despite calls by the UN chief to end the violence, Qatar urged an Arab-led military intervention in the country and Western leaders pledged support for rebel groups.
“The Security Council failed to reach an effective position. In view of this, I think that it is better for the Arab countries themselves to interfere,” said Sheik Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, the Emir of Qatar. Al-Thani urged neighboring nations to act “out of their national, humanitarian, political and military duties” and bring an end to the violence in Syria.
Earlier, Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassem al-Thani said in an interview with CNN that a no-fly zone over Syria is needed as a “Plan B.”
Western leaders have taken a uniformly hard line on what they see as the need to oust Syrian president Bashar al-Assad. French President Francois Hollande called on the UN to immediately provide protection for Syrian opposition groups and rebel-held territories.
“I know one thing is certain: The Syrian regime will never again take its place in the council of nations,” Hollande said. “Without any delay, I call upon the United Nations to provide immediately to the Syrian people all the support it asks of us and to protect liberated zones.”
“How many more deaths will we wait for before we act? How can we let the paralysis of the United Nations continue?” he said, likely alluding to three instances where Russia and China vetoed UN Security Council resolutions on Syria they deemed biased.
In August, France began channeling aid to Syria’s rebel-held regions. While Hollande called for Western and Arab countries to intervene in Syria, he also criticized Iran for doing just that: "It is clear that we have all the proof we need that Iran is intervening by human and material means in Syria, and this is unacceptable."
Hollande also reiterated his promise to recognize a “provisional Syrian government,” a step that could lead to direct military support for the Syrian rebels.
US President Barack Obama leveled further harsh criticism against Assad: "As we meet here, we again declare that the regime of Bashar al-Assad must come to an end so that the suffering of the Syrian people can stop and a new dawn can begin.”
The US and its allies frequently call for sanctions and regime change in Syria. Other countries, like Russia and China, favor diplomacy.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon took a balanced stance, arguing in his opening statement that the international community must “stop the violence and flows of arms to both sides, and set in motion a Syrian-led transition as soon as possible.”
UN and Arab League envoy to Syria Lakhdar Brahimi expressed interest in “maintaining active contacts” with Moscow, Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister said after FM Sergey Lavrov held a bilateral meeting with Brahimi on the sidelines of the General Assembly. Russia invited Brahimi to Moscow in the coming months in the hopes of crafting a plan to resolve the Syria crisis.