Syria: How the Blast in Damascus May Affect Diplomacy in New York

News is coming quickly from Syria. What we know so far is that 1) four top Syrian officials were killed in the bomb attack on Assad’s inner circle. 2) Syrian rebels have claimed credit for it.

These developments in Damascus come as the Security Council has been mired in tense and intense negotiations back in New York. The mandate for the UN monitoring mission in Syria (UNSMIS)  is set to expire on Friday. If it is not extended before then, the remaning military observers will have to leave Syria. There is a very real time pressure to get a resolution passed.

So far, the western members of the Security Council have been pushing to include sanctions provision in a resolution to extend the UNSMIS mandate. Russia has been adamently opposed, and has drafted a more gentle security council that simply extends UNSMIS mandate by 3 months and makes no mention of sanctions.  Meanwhile, Kofi Annan is on a flight to New York from Moscow where he met with Vladimir Putin yesterday, so there may even be some changes in Russia’s position that we don’t yet know.

This is the diplomatic context in which ambassadors in New York will approach the news out of Damascus today. Obviously, this is a very fluid situation and it is still too soon to make any definitive statements about how this blast may affect countries’ positions at the UN.