Middle East; Syria; DPRK; Mali

Middle East: UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Robert Serry, briefed the SC this morning on the situation in the region. He noted that the UN looks forward to working with the new Israeli Government following Tuesday’s elections. Serry also urged both sides to hold their action regarding the increase in announcements to build Israeli settlements and to exert greater efforts towards meaningful negotiations. Ambassador Rice issued remarks, emphasizing that the US “will continue to urge leaders on both sides to avoid unilateral steps and provocations that make peace negotiations harder to resume.”

Syria: Ban Ki-moon and the SG of the League of Arab States, Nabil Elaraby, held an “in-depth discussion” on the Syrian crisis over the phone today. Both leaders expressed their full support of Lakhdar Brahimi, who also participated in the call. They expressed their deep disappointment at the appalling levels of killing and destruction and their concern over the lack of a unified international posture towards a political transition as agreed in Geneva last June. OCHA Chief Valerie Amos, addressing the press from Davos, also expressed the need for greater humanitarian efforts in the region – despite great gains by UN agencies – as the number of people in acute need only continues to rise.

DPRK: The SG welcomes the SG’s unanimous passing of Resolution 2087, which expands targeted sanctions against DPRK after its December rocket launch. Ambassador Rice issued a statement following the SC session, noting that the resolution shows there are “unanimous and significant consequences” for violating previous SC resolutions. The US Mission also issued a fact sheet on the topic summarizing the new additions and their implications.

Mali: USG for DPA, Jeffrey Feltman, briefed the SC on the situation in Mali yesterday. He noted that the deployment of AFISMA troops and headquarters staff officers began on January 18, but there is general agreement among key stakeholders in Bamako that the original 3,300 personnel needs to be increased in order for it to engage effectively in offensive operations and enhance force protection. The mission is already facing “critical gaps,” he said, such as communications capacity, air mobility and medical capabilities. There have also been reports that Ambassador Susan Rice suggested sending a peacekeeping force to the country following the conclusion of French action.