UN Observers in Syria

So now there will be up to 300 unarmed military observers from the UN in Syria to check the end of the violence, as a big solution from the Security Council, and of course, the news were welcomed on the ground with more than 80 dead people in two bomb attacks that the government forces and the “rebels” whoever they are, are attributing each to other, according the international media, that have simplify the problem with this game of two sides, when is still not very easy to know what is happening there.

The new mission, named UNSMIS,  will be added to a list  of missions unresolved in the same area beginning for the first and older UNTSO, created in 1948 to keep the “truce” between Israel and it’s neighbors that is still operating 64 year after with no too much success with Israel, the Palestinian territories, Egypt,  Jordan, Syria and Lebanon.

In Syria is operating also the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) established on 31 May 1974 by  after the agreed disengagement of the Israeli and Syrian forces in the Golan Heights. And they still there.

Finally, not in Syria, but close to the border there is another long mission, the UNIFIL, that was created by the Security Council in March 1978 to confirm Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon, restore international peace and security and assist the Lebanese Government in restoring its effective authority in the area. The mandate had to be adjusted twice, due to the developments in 1982 and 2000. Following the July/August 2006 crisis, the Council enhanced the Force and decided that in addition to the original mandate, it would, among other things, monitor the cessation of hostilities; accompany and support the Lebanese armed forces as they deploy throughout the south of Lebanon; and extend its assistance to help ensure humanitarian access to civilian populations and the voluntary and safe return of displaced persons.

Well, the first UN mission has 64 years, the second 38 and the third 36 and no one of that violent problems disappeared. The number of casualties is difficult to calculate: hundreds  of thousands in all this years? many more? And this is because the UN forces, usually with mandates that include no engagement in battles or like this one of the observers in Syria send military observers unarmed, are at the will of the powerful on the ground.

Yes, like the Secretary’s General of the UN statement says in this case, “calls upon the Government of Syria and other parties swiftly to create the conditions necessary for the deployment of the mission. He stresses the need for the Government of Syria to end all violence and human rights violations, and in particular to stop the use of heavy weapons and to withdraw such weapons and armed units from population centers”. And “expects the Government of Syria to ensure the effective operation of UNSMIS, including full, unimpeded, and immediate freedom of movement and access, unobstructed communications and the safety of the mission”.

But if Syria’s Government hasn’t stop the attacks or respect the cease fire or stop the violence in advance of the arrival of the UN observers, and they are armed and in control of the communications, is claire that this mission cannot be successful if Al-Assad doesn’t coöperate. The mission has 90 days of life and can be prolonged, let see for how long. Let’s hope won’t be one of the missions who finally count his life for decades, because no one cooperates and the only result is that the conflict gets harder and harder the facts consummated and all more and more complicated to solve. That’s the history of the missions in big Countries with big armies who don’t like the solutions the UN is offering. I have my doubts that Mr. Al-Assad like what the UN has to say and what the observers want to watch. So no too much hope for the realism of the conclusions of this 300 observers,  and more violence in sight I’m afraid.

The oldest one apart the”Truce Supervision Organization” in the borders of Israel (with headquarters in Jerusalem and from there can work in the territory of Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan and Syria) is the UNMOGIP, the Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan that is working since January 1949 until today obviously without solving the situation either, because India and Pakistan don’t want the solution offered by the UN.  After those, there is a big jump till the most recent missions in Western Sahara (1991) forgotten by all, then Kosovo (1999) and several countries in Africa (in this Century)

About Olga Brajnović

Journalist. In my fifties. I've worked for 26 years in a newspaper in Spain. I worked for two years as a stringer and correspondent in the US, and went as a special envoy to other places like the Balkans. Sea lover. Avid reader. Classic Music enthusiast.


Dialog and diplomacy, Middle East, World and Politics


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