The worst and most likely scenario in Syria might be the option of acting outside of the UN Security Council’s authority, the U.S. ambassador to the UN, Susan Rice, said on Wednesday.
If all other ways to resolve the crisis fail, the world nations will have to decide whether they are ready to act “outside of the authority of this Council,” Rice told journalists after a closed Council meeting in New York.
“The first and best outcome would be for the government of Syria to finally and immediately implement its commitments under the [UN special envoy Kofi] Annan plan as it’s obliged to do under UN Security Council resolutions,” she said.
“That is what Kofi Annan is pressing for, and that is the surest and best way for this to get back on track and for there to be still a live prospect of a political solution. At this point, however, that does not seem to be a high probability scenario,” Rice said.
Over 100 people, including dozens of children and women, were killed in Houla in Homs province, in the May 25-26 attack that was one of the deadliest single events since the uprising against President Bashar Assad began in March 2011. The UN Security Council on Sunday condemned the massacre, which took place shortly before Tuesday’s visit to Syria by Annan.
Syrian opposition activists have blamed the Houla killings on pro-government fighters, an accusation flatly denied by the Syrian authorities, who say the tragedy was a terrorist plot aimed at undermining the regime.
“The second scenario would be for this Council to assume its responsibilities and to put additional pressure on the Syrian authorities to meet its commitments. And that pressure could include sanctions of the sort that have been alluded to and discussed, and we were among those that raised that possibility,” Rice said.
The U.S. envoy said that in any of the two scenarios, there is still a possibility to “put the political process on track.”
“In the absence of either of those two scenarios, there seems to me to be only one other alternative, and that is indeed the worst case, which seems unfortunately at the present to be the most probable. And that is that the violence escalates, the conflict spreads and intensifies, it reaches a higher degree of severity,” she said.
In that case, Rice said, “we have a major crisis not only in Syria but in the region. The Council’s unity is exploded, the Annan plan is dead… and members of this Council and members of the international community are left with the option only of having to consider whether they’re prepared to take actions outside of the Annan plan and the authority of this Council.”
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Tuesday expressed deep concern over the recent massacre in Houla and called for an unbiased investigation of the tragedy. An objective and unbiased probe into all circumstances should be carried out under the auspices of the UN Supervision Mission in Syria, Lavrov told Annan on the phone.
Lavrov also said both sides in Syria should give up violence to prevent any such incidents in the future and added that the task to implement Annan’s peace plan is becoming more urgent in the current circumstances. Annan said he hopes for further progress and thanked Russia for support of his efforts.
Over 9,000 people have been killed in clashes between the government and opposition forces in Syria since the start of the anti-Assad uprising, according to UN estimates.
Russia and China have twice vetoed UN Security Council resolutions over what Moscow called a pro-rebel bias since the start of the uprising against Assad, but have supported Annan’s peace plan.
The veto was meant to prevent the repetition of the “Libyan scenario.” In Libya, rebels ousted and killed long-standing dictator Muammar Gaddafi in October 2011 after a months-long military standoff in which they received assistance from NATO forces.
Moscow insists that both the government and “armed terrorist gangs” operating in Syria should be held responsible for the unrest.