UN names envoy for Syria chemical weapons

The head of the United Nations on Sunday named Sigrid Kaag to lead the UN's joint mission with the chemical weapons watchdog tasked with eliminating Syria's arsenal, diplomats said.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon made his appointment of Kaag known in a letter addressed to Azerbaijan's UN envoy Agshin Mehdiyev, who holds the rotating presidency of the Security Council,according to the Hindustan Times.

Kaag, a UN assistant secretary-general working at the UN Development Program, has served since 2007 as the regional director for the Middle East and North Africa with the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) in Amman.

The mission she is set to lead must include about a hundred staff members and be based in Damascus, with a second base in Cyprus.

Kaag is charged with overseeing the destruction of Syria's chemical weapons stockpile by June 30, in line with a resolution passed by the Security Council last month.

She joined the UN system in 1994 after a stint in the Dutch Foreign Ministry.

Since then, she has also worked as a senior UN adviser in Sudan, with the International Organization for Migration and with the UN refugee agency UNRWA in Jerusalem.

Kaag, 52, speaks Dutch, English, French, German and Arabic


Russia sells arms to states only, keeps in mind regional situation - Putin

Russia maintains military-technological cooperation only with the legitimate authorities of foreign states and always analyzes the situation in the relevant region, Russian President Vladimir Putin said.

"It is our principled position that arms deliveries to illegal entities undermine the security of a country, a region and the world as a whole. I am confident that many conflicts in various places of the globe could have been avoided if all arms makers of the world had adhered to the same principles as Russia does," he said at a meeting of the Russian Commission for Military-Technological Cooperation with Foreign States,according to Voice of Russia, Intefax.

Russia values its reputation as a responsible actor on the world arms market and fully complies with its commitments and non-proliferation and arms control regulations, he said. Russian laws allow for the delivery of armaments to foreign states exclusively within the framework of their legal regimes, Putin said.

"Russia concludes such contracts only with legitimate authorities and only for the sake of the defense capacity and sovereignty of these states. The concrete situation in the region is always comprehensively analyzed," Putin said.


West unable to force Syrian "opposition" to attend Geneva-2 - Lavrov

The unpreparedness to take part in the Geneva-2 international peace conference for Syria declared by "Syrian National Council" demonstrates the inability of the West to compel the Syrian "opposition" to negotiate, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said,according to Voice of Russia, Interfax

"The statement of "SNC", which is affiliated in some way with the "National Coalition of the Syrian opposition", is another confirmation of the need to hold this conference as soon as possible," Lavrov said at a press conference in Moscow on Monday.

"The main obstacle to this endeavor is still the inability of our partners to force the Syrian "opposition", whom they are supporting, to come to Geneva and sit down at the negotiating table with the government in order to find ways out of this crisis by general consent," the minister remarked.

"Our partners, primarily the Americans, have assured us they will gather everyone for this conference "under the umbrella of the "National Coalition"," Lavrov said.

In his words, US Secretary of State John Kerry told him several days ago that the United States was making energetic efforts to ensure this, which would soon yield results.


Syria officially becomes member of OPCW on Monday


THE HAGUE- Beginning from Monday, Syria officially becomes a member of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). The Organization's basic document -- the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on their Destructions, also known as the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), for short -- will apply to it, according to  Itar-Tass.

Syria becoms a 190th member-state of the OPCW. At present only six countries still remain outside the Convention. Two of them – "Israel" and Myanmar -- way back in 1993 signed the CWC. Only Angola, Egypt, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, and South Sudan have taken no actions as regards the Convention.

On the night from September 27 to 28, the OPCW Executive Council approved a plan for the destruction of chemical weapons in Syria. The decision was adopted unanimously. Following that, the UN Security Council passed Resolution 2,118 in support of the plan for the elimination of chemical weapons in the SAR. All the 15 countries of the UNSC voted for the document.

The OPCW was founded in 1997. On October 11, 2013, the Norwegian Nobel Committee announced the OPCW to be a winner of the Nobel Peace Prize. At a news conference held on the same day, OPCW Director-General Ahme Uzumcu expressed hope that the award bestowed upon the Organization would inspire the non-member countries to join the Organization. He emphasized tha the Nobel Committee's decision was a pleasant surprise.

The purposes of the OPCW are chemical demilitarization and nonproliferation of chemical weapons. The CWC was signed in Paris on January 13, 1993, by 130 countries and entered into forces on April 29, 1997. The CWC is the first multilateral treaty which not only bans a whole type of weapons of mass destruction but also provides a machinery for the checking of military and civilian chemical facilities.

The CWC signatory countries account for almost 98 percent of the world's population. Their territories take up almost the same percentage of the world's continental area. Ninety percent of the world's chemical industry are concentrated in these countries.

The OPCW's supreme body is a Conference of the member-states. The Organization is headquartered in the ague.

According to OPCW data, as of July 2013, an aggregate of 57,740 metric tons, or 81.1 percent of the world's announced stocks of chemical weapons had been eliminated.


Several countries want to disrupt Geneva 2 - Pushkov


Alexei Pushkov, chairman of the State Duma committee on international affairs, believes that some countries are trying to disrupt Geneva 2 peaceful conference, according to Voice of Russia.

"Several countries are hoping to disrupt Geneva-2," Pushkov said in his microblog on Twitter on Monday.

The Syrian "opposition" is not independent, he said.

"It is fully dependent on outside support. The interests and plans of its sponsors are behind all its steps," Pushkov said.


Kerry comes to London for two-day talks on Iran, Syria

US Secretary of State John Kerry is in London on Sunday and Monday for talks on Iran with EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, and on Syria with peace envoy Lakhdar Brahimi.

According to Voice of Russia, AFP,Kerry flew into London on Sunday from Kabul, at the end of a 10-day trip around Asia.

He was due to have lunch with Ashton on Sunday behind closed doors to discuss Iran's nuclear programme, a State Department official told reporters travelling with Kerry.

The lunch comes ahead of fresh talks between world powers and Iran, amid raised hopes of a less hardline approach from the Islamic republic's new president.

The two-day meeting in Geneva, starting Tuesday, will be the first such negotiations sincepresident  Hassan Rouhani took office in August.

The US is sending Wendy Sherman, the undersecretary of state for political affairs. On Monday morning, Kerry was to meet Brahimi, the United Nations envoy on Syria.

They were also due to speak to press, the State Department said.Their talks will likely revolve around preparations for long-stalled so-called "Geneva-2" peace talks aimed at finding a political solution to the crisis  in Syria.


Russia Welcomes Nobel Award for Chemical Arms Watchdog

MOSCOW– Russia on Saturday welcomed the decision to award the 2013 Nobel Peace Prize to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), which is currently destroying chemical stockpiles in Syria in line with an agreement reached by Russia and the United States,according to RIA Novosti.

 The OPCW  is one of the most effective international bodies in the field of disarmament and non-proliferation,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

 “The mission that the OPCW, in cooperation with the United Nations, has successfully begun within the framework of destroying chemical weapons in Syria is vivid confirmation of this.”

Elimination of Chemical Weapons in the World

Russia has postponed the destruction of its chemical weapons to 2015, citing underfunding. The United States plans to get rid of its stockpiles by 2023.

The OPCW, headquartered in The Hague, oversees the destruction of chemical weapons by signatories of the 1993 Chemical Weapons Convention. Only six of the UN’s 193 members are not party to the convention.


HRW Affirms Terrorist Takfiri Groups Committed Crimes against Humanity in Lattakia Countryside

Human Rights Watch (HRW) has described the crimes committed by the armed terrorist groups against innocent people in the villages of the northern countryside of Lattakia in August as crimes against humanity.

 Scores of civilians including children and women were victims of the terrorist assault.

 According to Press TV, the rights organization stressed that terrorist Takfiri groups killed 190 civilians and held over 200 others hostage in Syria’s western province of Lattakia in August alone.

In a report released on Friday, the New York-based rights group presented evidence that anti-Syria terrorist groups carried out the killings and the hostage-taking in their several-day operation that began around villages in Lattakia on August 4.

The 105-page report was compiled based upon on-site investigation and interviews with 35 people, including the survivors of the attacks.

According to the report, most of the killings apparently took place on the first day of the offensive. A vast majority of the hostages are also women and children.

The human rights organization further said the acts of violence "rise to the level of war crimes and crimes against humanity,” calling on the UN Security Council to immediately take such cases to the International Criminal Court (ICC).

The rights group also stressed that the scale and organization of the attacks on civilians suggest premeditation.

“This operation was a coordinated, planned attack on the civilian population in these villages,” said Joe Stork, acting Middle East director at Human Rights Watch.

The HRW report also said over 20 armed groups took part in the operation, while many of the dead had been executed by al-Qaeda-affiliated groups.

Since the outbreak of the events in Syria in March 2011, several video clips have been released showing the grisly crimes perpetrated by foreign-sponsored terrorists against innocent civilians in the country.

H. Mustafa