By Dow Jones, AP, and Genalyn D. Kabiling
The United Nations (UN) Security Council unanimously passed a counterterrorism resolution on Friday that authorizes the use of military force against the extremist groups Islamic State (IS) and al-Nusra Front.
The resolution, introduced by France in the wake of terrorist attacks in Paris a week ago, calls on the international community to mobilize and to organize efforts against the global threat posed by terrorism, to block the flow of foreign fighters and to crack down on terrorist finances.
A separate resolution introduced by Russia on Wednesday wasn’t discussed by members of the Security Council. Western diplomats said it was too broad in its definition of terrorists and allowed Syria’s government to remain in power. Russia, while endorsing France’s resolution, said blocking its own resolution was politically shortsighted and that it would continue to pursue its approval.
The resolution approved on Friday by the Security Council comes as French President Francois Hollande plans a diplomatic offensive next week in a bid to unite world powers in a campaign against Islamic State. Mr. Hollande will visit the US on Tuesday and Russia on Thursday.
France’s Ambassador to the UN, Francois Delattre, called the resolution historic. “The resolution frames our action under international law and upholds the UN charter,” he said, addressing the Security Council. “It provides a guarantee that there will be an effective fight against international terrorism.”
Mr. Delattre told reporters the resolution will allow France to amplify its military strikes against ISIS by at least threefold in coming days, with the arrival of aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle giving France a wider striking capability.
In Malaysia, the condemnation of terrorism and extremism and a call for “new solutions,” not just military might, to fight the menace, opened this year’s Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit in Kuala Lumpur.
In his opening remarks at the regional summit, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak denounced the recent terror attacks across the globe, saying the “evil” culprits do not represent any race or religion and must be confronted with the full force of the law.
Najib expressed grief over the many lives lost from the attacks in Paris, Beirut, Sinai as well as the beheading of Malaysian national by the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) in the Southern Philippines, saying these showed “a sickening disregard for human life and the devastation visited on families and communities.”
“The perpetrators of these cowardly and barbaric acts do not represent any race, religion or creed, nor should we allow them to claim to do so. They are terrorists and should be confronted as such with the full force of the law,” Najib said.
‘GRAND AND SINGLE COALITION’
France’s resolution came as a response to Mr. Hollande’s call before the French parliament on Monday for a “grand and single coalition” with the US and Russia against Islamic State. He said the Security Council must adopt a resolution to fight Islamic extremists.
With the unanimous Security Council vote, the terrorist attacks in Paris appear to have at last mobilized the council in taking a unified stand against terrorism brewing in Syria. The council has been criticized for its inaction over Syria’s five-year conflict, largely due to deep divisions among member states on the fate of Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad.
Security Council member nations remain divided on the key question of the future of the Syrian ruler, but Western diplomats said the UN was beginning to act on four fronts regarding Syria: a counterterrorism resolution; a cease-fire plan; deploying UN monitors; and an authorization for military action against Islamic State.
Russia presented its proposal on Wednesday and France circulated its proposed resolution on Thursday. The competing resolutions threatened to undermine the movement toward unity on the Security Council, but Friday’s vote quelled concerns.
The Russian proposal is seen by Western nations as seeking to legitimize Mr. Assad’s authority, diplomats said.
FOCUSED ON IS
The French resolution is more tightly focused on the IS, along with the related al-Nusra organization. Islamic State has been blamed – and has claimed responsibility – for the terror attacks in Paris and last month’s crash of a Russian airliner in Egypt. The group also is suspected in a wave of terror attacks in Egypt, Beirut and Baghdad.
While action is under way at the United Nations, diplomats are pursuing talks in Vienna aimed at establishing a cease-fire and starting talks between the Syrian regime and opposition groups.
British Ambassador to the UN Matthew Rycroft said the resolution will be used by Prime Minister David Cameron to address the parliament in terms of action against Islamic State group. Mr. Cameron has outlined plans to begin airstrikes by the UK in Syria.
Mr. Rycroft said it is up to Russia to redraft its resolution to address the issues that divide the Security Council, such as the role of Mr. Assad.
Russia’s Ambassador Vitaly Churkin told the council that this was only a first step in combating terrorism and the international community must create a broad antiterrorism military coalition. Mr. Churkin said blocking Russia’s resolution was “politically shortsighted” as it shared many of the same points as the one adopted on Friday.
“Active work on the approval of our draft is something we intend to do,” Mr. Churkin said.
An Associated Press report said the measure is the 14th terrorism-related resolution adopted by the UN’s most powerful body since 1999.
It was adopted a week after violent extremists launched a coordinated gun and bomb assault that killed 130 people in Paris which the Islamic State claims it carried out. It also comes eight days after twin suicide bombings in Beirut killed 43 people, and three weeks after a Russian airliner crashed over Egypt’s Sinai peninsula killing all 224 people on board – both attacks also claimed by IS.
The resolution “unequivocally condemns in the strongest terms” these and earlier “horrifying terrorist attacks” carried out by the Islamic State this year in Sousse, Tunisia and Ankara, Turkey, and calls for the perpetrators to be brought to justice.
“Today we sent a clear, unambiguous message that there will be no respite from our collective efforts to stop, suppress and destroy ISIL,” Britain’s UN Ambassador Matthew Rycroft, the current council president, said, using an acronym for the Islamic State group.
The resolution urges UN member-states “to intensify their efforts to stem the flow of foreign terrorist fighters in Iraq and Syria and to prevent and suppress the financing on terrorism.’’
The resolution expresses the council’s determination to swiftly update the list of people and organizations subject to UN sanctions “to better reflect the threat’’ posed by the Islamic State group.
The Security Council currently has on the table two other terrorism-related resolutions, one by Russia circulated Wednesday evening and another on Boko Haram sponsored by the council’s three African members, Chad, Nigeria and Angola.