UN should be ready for post-Al Assad Syria: Kevin Rudd

December 14, 2012

Kevin Rudd

Australia’s former prime minister said that it was critical for the international community to be fully prepared for the day after the fall of Syria’s President Bashar Al Assad.

“What must now be prepared is a comprehensive UN Security Council Resolution for post-Al Assad Syria,” Kevin Rudd said.

The resolution should contain “all the elements of peace enforcement, peace stabilisation, peacekeeping, humanitarian intervention, economic reconstruction, WMD consolidation and the rest, and an operational plan to make it work as of day one.”

“Failing that, a strategic vacuum would emerge in post-Al Assad Syria, which would make — as I said before — post-Muammar Gaddafi Libya look like a Sunday school picnic,” Rudd said as he addressed the Manama Dialogue, an international conference in the Bahraini capital that brought together senior political and military figures from the Arab world, North America, Europe, Asia and Australia.

Representatives from the Syrian national coalition and officials from the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (Nato) were also present at the three-day annual event.

Gap between China, Russia

Rudd said that there was a gap emerging between the positions held by Russia and China on the developments in Syria.

“Our good friends in China will not welcome my saying this, but let me say it: I have already seen the emergence of a gap between Chinese and Russian official positions on Syria,” he said. “It is very important that those in the region — the [Gulf Cooperation Council] GCC, the Arab League and elsewhere — have a very clear position to put to Beijing in terms of what they want out of the [United Nations Security Council] UNSC now on the question of Syria,” he said.

Syria and the role of the international community strongly dominated the speeches and the debates throughout the conference, the eighth to be held since it was launched in 2004.

However, Rudd said that the Middle East was not among the top priorities.

“Looked at from Asia’s perspective, where does the Middle East loom? I would say that in our part of the world, our future would be seen as understandably Asia-centric. The central objective is how to preserve Asian peace, which we have had now for the last 35 years since the fall of Saigon — how to avoid, in particular, conflict between the United States and China, and regional states over the South China Sea, and how to underpin the continued strategic stability we have had to continue to prosecute the economic growth agenda of the region as a whole, and to lift the remaining hundreds of millions out of poverty.

Not a dominant interest

“Frankly, I would think that the Middle East is seen as a significant interest of our region, but by no means major and by no means dominant,” he said. “In terms of the region’s economic — or should I say energy — security, of course it is of continuing significance, but if I were to list to you the region’s top 10 priorities, the Middle East does not rank among them,” Rudd said.

The former prime minister said several regions in the world were focused on “the next chapter of the economic story, emerging out of sub Saharan Africa and broader Africa, as well as the great unfoldings of the 600 million-plus people who live in Latin America.”

“Therefore, I say with great respect to our friends in the Middle East that with the exception of a number of good folks from our hemisphere in Asia, like myself, who make a continued and professional study of this region, it does not loom large in our set of collective top 10 priorities. If it is in the top 10, it is in the latter five of the top 10,” he said.




About the author

Born August 3, 1960 in Monastir, Tunisia
Media career:
  • ABC News (Tunisia)
  • Bahrain Tribune
  • Gulf News
  • Bahrain Television News
Teaching career:
  • Monastir (Tunisia)
  • University of Bahrain
  • MA  Mass Communications, University of Leicester
  • BA  in English & US literature and studies, University of Tunis

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