Reuters: Iran, Syria and other governments that failed to protect foreign embassies from mobs protesting over cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad should pay for the damage, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan said on Monday. By Irwin Arieff
UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) – Iran, Syria and other governments that failed to protect foreign embassies from mobs protesting over cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad should pay for the damage, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan said on Monday.
The cartoons’ publication in a Danish newspaper have triggered widespread protests across the Muslim world including violent attacks on Western diplomatic offices in a number of countries.
“The government has a responsibility to prevent these things from happening. They should have stopped it, not just in Syria or Iran but all around,” Annan said.
“Not having stopped it, I hope they will pick up the bill for the destruction that has been caused to all the foreign countries,” he told CNN. “They should be prepared to pay for the damage done to Danish, Norwegian and the other embassies concerned.”
Danish facilities have been singled out for attacks, including diplomatic missions in Syria, Lebanon and Iran.
Denmark has withdrawn its diplomatic staff from Indonesia and Iran because of threats to their security, and from Syria, citing inadequate security provision by the Syrian authorities.
Annan said he personally raised the question of government responsibility with Syria’s ambassador to the United Nations, Fayssal Mekdad, asking him, “Why couldn’t you stop it?”
“His answer was, ‘It was so spontaneous, we couldn’t stop it.'” Annan said.
Mekdad, who was named Syria’s vice foreign minister over the weekend, was en route to Damascus and unavailable for comment, an aide in Syria’s U.N. Mission said.
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice accused the Syrian and Iranian authorities over the weekend of helping incite the violence in their countries.
But Annan said he had no evidence of that. “You had demonstrations all over the world,” he told CNN.