report of Airwars.org entitled: "First year of Coalition airstrikes helped stall Islamic State – but at a cost"
article published in The Independent "Thousands protest against Syria air strikes as stop the war coalition marches on London"
A few hours after the vote that took place in United Kindgom ´s Parliament last December 2, Royal Air Force (RAF) initiated its first airstrikes in Syria (see note of France24). During the discussion, Prime Minister David Cameron appealed to Parliament Members to vote in favour RAF strikes against Islamic State (ISIS) in Syria, in order to "keep the British people safe" from the threat of terrorism. United Kindgom´s Executive seemed to be extremely "urged", as reported by press (see note), and time seemed short for more debate and examination of further details. As very well known, "urgency" is sometimes extremely usefull, mainly when arguments presented are simple. In a recent article entitled, "Voting on Military Action in Syria", it is written that Prime Minister seems quite clear on one particular point: "In his address to Parliament, David Cameron insisted that the UN SC Resolution provides a legal basis for military action". On the other hand, France Executive was expecting with some urgency too the decision to be taken in United Kingdom (see note), as it appears quite isolated in Europe Union concerning airstrikes in Syria practice (and its previsible consequences).
It must be recalled that:
- first official French airstrikes in Syria against ISIS positions took place last September 27 (see note of Le Monde of this very same day): 24 hours after, France President took the floor at the United Nations General Assembly. Before France, the following information circulated concerning other first airstrikes in Syria
- on September 16, 2015, Australia initiated its airstrkes in Syria (see BBC note);
- Turquey launched its first airstrsikes in Syria on August 29, 2015 as member of the Coalition (see CNN note).
- on April 9, 2015, Canada launched its first airstrikes in Syria (see BBC note) and became the 2ond member of NATO (after United States) to do so in Syria. At this time, Canada was governed by a Prime Minister extremely close to United States positions.
report of Airwars.org entitled: "First year of Coalition airstrikes helped stall Islamic State – but at a cost"
In August 30, 2013, a similar vote took place in United Kingdom´s Parliament with a short negative result for the executive concerning airstrikes in Syria (see note of BBC): the government motion was rejected by 285-272. In BBC note above referred, it can be read that "On Friday French President Francois Hollande told the newspaper Le Monde that he would still be willing to take action without Britain's involvement.
He said he supported taking "firm" punitive action over an attack he said had caused "irreparable" harm to the Syrian people".
At the opening of a 10-hour Commons debate today, the Prime Minister said the country had no other choice. In the report presented to the Parliament (see full text) he stressed that: "I believe that the UK should now join Coalition airstrikes against ISIL in Syria" (p. 7) and that "On 20 November 2015, the UN Security Council unanimously called on
Member States to use all necessary measures to prevent and suppress terrorist
acts committed specifically by ISIL, and to deny them safe haven in Syria and
Iraq" (p. 8).
Concerning the first point, the expression "Coalition airstrikes against ISIL in Syria" seems to be a new one. As known, a coalition has been created in September 2014 by United States and its allies: State Department includes an official list with more than 60 Members of this Coalition called "The Global Coalition to Counter ISIL" : it must be noted that Panama appears as the only State from Latin America, while, concerning Africa, Morrocos, Nigeria, Somalia and Tunisia are included in this official list. Prime Minister David Cameron seems to refer to another coalition, or at least, to a branch of "The Global Coalition to Counter ISIL". In a recent report of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the House of Commons entitled "The extension of
military operations to
Syria", precise information is provided on which are the States involved in airtrikes in Syria (and in Irak): "Airstrikes in Iraq: US, UK, Australia, Belgium (withdrawn), Canada (expected to withdraw), Denmark (withdrawn), France, Jordan, The Netherlands (9). Airstrikes in Syria: US, Australia, Bahrain, Canada (expected to withdraw), France, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, UAE (9). Total of 13 states overall”(note 22, page 9). In its presentation at the Sénat in France, last November 25, French Minister of Foreign Affairs declares publicly (see compte-rendu analytique) that:"Une trentaine d'État sont engagés militairement dans la coalition". On Nov. 30, The Washington Times (see note) informed that "One Pentagon official directly involved in the counter-Islamic State fight told The Washington Times that the Saudis haven’t flown a mission against the group in nearly three months. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that Bahrain is still involved, but confirmed that Jordan stopped flying sorties against the extremists in August and the UAE hasn’t flown one since March".
As briefly presented, "The Global Coalition to Counter ISIL" is quite different from "Coalition airstrikes against ISIL in Syria" and numbers referred by France´s head of diplomacy seem to be extremely approximative if compared with the exact number of States involved in military operations in Syria and Irak. It must be recalled that France has been the first EU member to bomb ISIS positions in Irak. During the last days of September 2014, Belgium, Denmark and United Kingdom acceed also to participate in these airstrikes in Irak (see note of Temps Réels).
article of BBC
Concerning the second point, the content of the Resolution 2249 has been made public since November 13, and assertions made by Primer Minister Cameron require some clarifications. As known, Security Council 2249 (see text) resolution does not provide any legal basis for airstrikes in Syria. A carefull reading of the text (see at the end of this note the full resolution reproduced) shows that Resolution 2249 does not mention Article 42 of the UN Charter, which allows Security Council to authorise States to the use of force, or even Chapter VII generally. Resolution 2249 nor does use the verb "decide", used when Security Council adopts a resolution on the use of force. A note published by Royal Institute on International Affairs and entitled "Assessing the Legal Basis for UK Military Action in Syria" is quite clear on this very particular point of Resolution 2249 adopted last November 20:
"In order to provide legal authority for the use of force against ISIS under international law, a Security Council resolution would need to constitute a decision, taken under Chapter VII of the UN Charter, that states could use all necessary measures in their action against ISIS. Although resolution 2249 determines that ISIS is a ‘global and unprecedented threat to international peace and security’ and refers to ‘all necessary measures’, the language used in the operative part of the resolution is merely hortatory (‘calls upon’) and does not refer to Chapter VII. For those who are looking for specific UN authorisation for the use of force, this is not it".
Recently, international lawyers entitled their analysis of this resolution (see article): "The Constructive Ambiguity of the Security Council’s ISIS Resolution". For the authors of this article, "Resolution 2249, on the other hand, is constructed in such a way that it can be used to provide political support for military action, without actually endorsing any particular legal theory on which such action can be based or providing legal authority from the Council itself. The creative ambiguity in this resolution lies not only in the fact that it does not legally endorse military action, while appearing to give Council support to action being taken, but also that it allows for continuing disagreement as to the legality of those actions".
It must be recalled that references to United Nations Charter in operative part of the resolution are the result of Russia insistance, and were note included in the original dradt presented by France to the members of the Security Council. In this note entitled "Adoption of a Resolution on Counter Terrorism", we read that, concerning modifications to the original draft presented: "
"Russia insisted that a reference to the UN Charter be inserted and France agreed".
Despite public declarations made by France ´s delegates after the vote of Resolution 2249, this resolution does not justify the legality of France´s airstrikes in Syria. On this and others French contradictions, and the very first "premiere" offered by France diplomacy at the United Nations in order to avoid a reference to the Charter in operative paragraphs of a draft resolution, we refer to a recent article entitled "La Résolution 2249 n’autorise pas à bombarder en Syrie" and a note published in the Bulletin "Sentinelle" of the Société Francaise pour le Droit International entitled "Attentats à Paris: remarques critiques au sujet de la résolution 2249 du Conseil de Sécurité des Nations Unies". In a recent article on the intervention of Russia in Syria from the legal perspective, entitled "Russia´sintervention in Syria", France justification to intervene in Mali´s civil war at the request of national autorities are mentionned. The author concluded that: "On the basis of the reasoning of the Court and the responses of states to the recent interventions in Mali by France and in Syria by Russia, it is argued here that there is no such rule that prohibits an intervention in a civil war if the invitation comes from the government. It is thus submitted that the Russian intervention in Syria is in accordance with international law".
In another recent article on this extremely confused resolution adopted by Security Council one week after Paris attacks of November 13, (see article) we read that. "This declaration represents a very important, albeit risky, application by the Council of its powers even when acting outside of Chapter VII of the Charter. It affects the application of the right to self-defence of states wishing to rely on their own right to self-defence, rather than a right derived from Iraq or from Syrian consent". In his conlcusion, the author emphasizes the fact that "In reality, this reluctance has opened up a pandora’s box of potential claims to the use of force in Syria and possibly Iraq. This is because the resolution offers an authoritative interpretation of the facts in relation to international law and the Charter, in particular the right to self-defence".
Last October 21, Canadian new elected authorities decided to suspend airstrikes in Syria as well as in Irak. In a recent note of the Parliament in United Kingdom, it is said that "Belgium and Denmark have recently withdrawn their combat aircraft". Concerning Canada, in an article published in 2015 on aistrikes in Syria by Canadian Air Force, entitled "Canada’s Military Operations against ISIS in Iraq
and Syria and the Law of Armed Conflict" the author concludes that: "However, there is a further legal
hurdle for Canada to overcome.
Unless Canada can attribute ISIS’
attacks in Iraq to Syria, then the
question becomes whether Canada
may lawfully target ISIS, as a nonstate
actor in Syria’s sovereign
territory, using the ‘unwilling or
unable’ doctrine to prevent ISIS’ extraterritoriality
attacks against Iraq.
This justification moves significantly
away from the Nicaragua, Congo
and Israeli Wall cases’ requirement
for attribution". The authors ends his article with the following sentence: "There is no escaping the conclusion
that Canada’s air strikes on Syria are
on shaky, or at least shifting, legal
Text of the Security Council Resolution 2249 (2015)
Resolution 2249 (2015)
Adopted by the Security Council at its 7565th meeting, on
20 November 2015
The Security Council,
Reaffirming its resolutions 1267 (1999), 1368 (2001), 1373 (2001), 1618
(2005), 1624 (2005), 2083 (2012), 2129 (2013), 2133 (2014), 2161 (2014), 2170
(2014), 2178 (2014), 2195 (2014), 2199 (2015), 2214 (2015) and its relevant
Reaffirming the principles and purposes of the Charter of the United Nations,
Reaffirming its respect for the sovereignty, territorial integrity, independence
and unity of all States in accordance with purposes and principles of the United
Reaffirming that terrorism in all forms and manifestations constitutes one of
the most serious threats to international peace and security and that any acts of
terrorism are criminal and unjustifiable regardless of their motivations, whenever
and by whomsoever committed,
Determining that, by its violent extremist ideology, its terrorist acts, its
continued gross systematic and widespread attacks directed against civilians, abuses
of human rights and violations of international humanitarian law, including those
driven on religious or ethnic ground, its eradication of cultural heritage and
trafficking of cultural property, but also its control over significant parts and natural
resources across Iraq and Syria and its recruitment and training of forei gn terrorist
fighters whose threat affects all regions and Member States, even those far from
conflict zones, the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as
Da’esh), constitutes a global and unprecedented threat to international peace and
Recalling that the Al-Nusrah Front (ANF) and all other individuals, groups,
undertakings and entities associated with Al-Qaida also constitute a threat to
international peace and security,
Determined to combat by all means this unprecedented threat to international
peace and security,
Noting the letters dated 25 June 2014 and 20 September 2014 from the Iraqi
authorities which state that Da’esh has established a safe haven outside Iraq’s
borders that is a direct threat to the security of the Iraqi people and territory,
Reaffirming that Member States must ensure that any measures taken to
combat terrorism comply with all their obligations under international law, in
particular international human rights, refugee and humanitarian law,
Reiterating that the situation will continue to deteriorate further in the absence
of a political solution to the Syria conflict and emphasizing the need to implement
the Geneva Communiqué of 30 June 2012 endorsed as Annex II of its resolution
2118 (2013), the Joint Statement on the outcome of the multilateral talks on Syria in
Vienna of 30 October 2015 and the Statement of the International Syria Support
Group (ISSG) of 14 November 2015,
1. Unequivocally condemns in the strongest terms the horrifying terrorist
attacks perpetrated by ISIL also known as Da’esh which took place on 26 June 2015
in Sousse, on 10 October 2015 in Ankara, on 31 October 2015 over Sinaï, on
12 November 2015 in Beirut and on 13 November 2015 in Paris, and all other
attacks perpetrated by ISIL also known as Da’esh, including hostage -taking and
killing, and notes it has the capability and intention to carry out further attacks and
regards all such acts of terrorism as a threat to peace and security;
2. Expresses its deepest sympathy and condolences to the victims and their
families and to the people and Governments of Tunisia, Turkey, Russian Federation,
Lebanon and France, and to all Governments whose citizens were targeted in the
above-mentioned attacks and all other victims of terrorism;
3. Condemns also in the strongest terms the continued gross, systematic and
widespread abuses of human rights and violations of humanitarian law, as well as
barbaric acts of destruction and looting of cultural heritage carried out by ISIL also
known as Da’esh;
4. Reaffirms that those responsible for committing or otherwise responsible
for terrorist acts, violations of international humanitarian law or violations or abuses
of human rights must be held accountable;
5. Calls upon Member States that have the capacity to do so to take all
necessary measures, in compliance with international law, in particular with the
United Nations Charter, as well as international human rights, refugee and
humanitarian law, on the territory under the control of ISIL also known as Da’esh,
in Syria and Iraq, to redouble and coordinate their efforts to prevent and suppress
terrorist acts committed specifically by ISIL also known as Da’esh as well as ANF,
and all other individuals, groups, undertakings, and entities associated with
Al Qaeda, and other terrorist groups, as designated by the United Nations Security
Council, and as may further be agreed by the International Syria Support Group
(ISSG) and endorsed by the UN Security Council, pursuant to the Statement of the
International Syria Support Group (ISSG) of 14 November, and to eradicate the safe
haven they have established over significant parts of Iraq and Syria;
6. Urges Member States to intensify their efforts to stem the flow of foreign
terrorist fighters to Iraq and Syria and to prevent and suppress the financing of
terrorism, and urges all Member States to continue to fully implement the abovementioned
7. Expresses its intention to swiftly update the 1267 committee sanctions
list in order to better reflect the threat posed by ISIL also known as Da’esh;
8. Decides to remain seized of the matter.
This note has been published in HumanRightsInvestigations on December 4, as well as in Globalresearch and in Alainet on December 3, 2015; a shorter version has been published in Middle East Monitor on December 3, 2015.