It is difficult to know how the United Nations expects to retain credibility within the international community … after suspending its monitoring operations in Syria, before threatening to withdraw its personnel from the country completely.

There are those of us who wonder how the UN retains its position anyway, considering the way it allows certain states, and particularly Israel, to operate in breach of all regulations. Some thought the withholding of full membership for Palestine recently was the last straw, others among us thought it was entirely predictable, even typical, of a international body where all members are equal except those that are not. Not allowed to be members, or not allowed to be equal – take your pick.

The violence taking place on Syrian streets is certainly escalating. And yet it seems that the UN is now preparing to stand back and watch it happen from a distance. What message is that sending to the Syrian populace about their place in the world community?

On the sidelines of the Group of 20 meetings in Mexico presidents Obama and Putin seemed to have at last put personal differences aside to be able to agree to work “with all interested parties” to bring an end to the senseless slaughter in Syria. But is Iran in? Is Iran out, who knows? And will it be decided in time to matter?

Meanwhile, Navi Pillay, the UN’s top human rights official says the Syrian gov- ernment may be guilty of war crimes? May be? Only, it seems, within the hallowed halls of the United Nations, does any shadow of a doubt remain.

Ashraf Hamdan

Beirut, Lebanon