German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle called Friday for a non-military UN resolution and tough sanctions as a way of piling pressure on the Syrian regime to stop a deadly crackdown on opposition.
At a meeting in Paris seeking to coordinate Western and Arab efforts to stop the violence, he stressed that a peaceful and democratic transition “excludes a political role for (President Bashar al-) Assad.”
“We need to increase our political and economic pressure, including by working for a non-military Chapter 7 resolution in the (UN) Security Council,” Westerwelle told the “Friends of Syria” gathering.
Chapter 7 of the UN charter, which allows for sanctions ranging from economic measures to an arms embargo in a bid to secure peace, and military force if necessary, was used against Libya last year.
But agreeing on such action can be difficult at the UN Security Council where Russia and China, both of which boycotted the Paris meeting, have the power of veto.
“First of all we should implement the sanctions. First of all we should all work together to increase the pressure, the political pressure, the economic pressure, to the regime,” stressed Westerwelle.
“We cannot discuss measures, military measures, not in this room at the moment but in many other meetings, when the implementation of the sanctions have not really made the progress they should have.”
Assad has refused to stand down and responded by stepping up the crackdown against the opposition seeking to topple him since March 2011, raising fears of full scale civil war.
The London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says 15 months of violence have claimed the lives of more than 16,500 people.