Syria

Haley: Assad a 'war criminal' protected by Russia, Iran

Says 'The United States has always been the moral compass of the world.

 

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley has branded Syrian president Bashar al-Assad as "a war criminal,' who has been protected by Russia and Iran in the Security Council for far too long.

She told Fox News the Trump administration hopes Assad will be brought to justice for the overwhelming humanitarian crisis and continued carnage that has torn his nation apart.

She also blamed the Obama administration for not acting sooner to try and prevent the war.

"The previous administration needs to take responsibility for that, as well," she said. "First of all, Assad…he's a war criminal. He's used chemical weapons on his own people. He's not allowing aid to come in. He is very much a deterrence to peace. But then you look at the fact that the Security Council has to acknowledge when the chemical weapons -- we had proof that he used it three times on his own people. Why aren't we dealing with that?

"Then, you know, you have to look at the Iranian influence and the fact that we've got to get that out. Syria is in such sad shape, but it doesn't have to be that way. If you look back, so many things could have been done to prevent where we are today. And that's what we need to focus on now."

Haley, who resigned as governor of South Carolina when the Senate approved her nomination in January, has been a quick learner in her new arena, observers say, who has brought a blunt message from the Trump administration to the international diplomats at the world body on several issues.

'The United States has always been the moral compass of the world.'

 

She calls North Korea, "a threat to the world," and demands that Beijing impose sanctions on Kim Jong-un's regime for its continued nuclear and ballistic missile tests.

"It all comes down to China," Haley says. "They could put enough pressure on North Korea to get them to step back. Now it's time for them to prove it."

She is clear about her role at the U.N.

"I think that the United States has always been the moral compass of the world. And I think we are generous by nature. And we want to see people safe. We don't want to see people starve. We don't want to see people treated -- mistreated by their governments," she said, noting that her first goal is to bring American values...and the nation's voice...back to the organization that she says has gotten "stale."

Haley intends to focus on human rights, the U.N. budget, peacekeeping reform, and addressing the wrongs that have plagued the world body.

"Leadership is just letting them know what we're for, what we're against, have the backs of our allies and make sure they keep the backs of us, and then anyone that challenges us, call them out. Let them know what we think is wrong. That's all this is just making sure we're changing the culture to showing strength from the United States again, action and making sure that we show value in the United Nations. I think it's important for the American people."

The Trump administration has proposed deep cuts in the U.S. contribution to the U.N.'s budget. American taxpayers currently pay upwards of $2.8 billion to fund the world body's regular and peacekeeping operations. The White House has proposed slicing the U.S. contribution by almost half, $1 billion.

According to the U.N.'s own figures, the U.S. is responsible for just over 28 percent of the peacekeeping budget, which the Trump administration has sought to cut by 3 percent, for a total contribution of 25 percent. That amount, however, would still be more than double the next largest contributors, China and Japan...about four times more than Germany, France and Great Britain...and six times more than Russia.

Haley insisted any reductions will not harm the peacekeeping and humanitarian efforts, denying the fears expressed by some that refugees could starve, children will not get UNICEF innoculations, and peacekeeping deployments would be crippled.

"What we want is for people to be safe. We want the aid to get in," she sayid, noting that her fellow diplomats share the same goals.

"All of the other countries are saying, 'yes we think that too.' They want to see peacekeeping reform. They want to see management reform. They want to see the U.N. become more active and go back to the mission."

On Friday, the Security Council unanimously voted to slightly reduce the troop level of the peacekeeping forces in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Haley told Fox News that the biggest surprise since her arrival two months ago, is what she called the U.N.'s "anti-Israeli bias," citing meetings on the Middle East that focus only on the Jewish State.

"They're not talking about we would care about. They're not talking about Syria. They're not talking about Iran. They're not talking about North Korea. What they are talking about is Israel. Every single month, for 10 years, they've been Israel bashing. And that was something that I just couldn't believe they put the time and energy into doing that, when we have so many threats around the world."

"I think she's great," Haley’s Israeli counterpart, Israel's United Nations Ambassador Danny Danon, told Fox News when asked how he thinks she is doing.

"She comes with her values, her tools, and that's what we need at the U.N., to bring the U.N. back to its core values. The U.N. is a good institution, but it was kidnapped by evil forces and I believe with Ambassador Haley, and my team, we can work together, and maybe, maybe change the U.N. and bring it back to what it should be."

Haley points to several changes that have occurred under her watch, from preventing the appointment of a former prime minister of the Palestinian Authority until the P.A. engages in peace talks, to the resignation of a U.N. official who released a report branding Israel as an "apartheid state."

"It’s changing, and the tone is getting better," she notes.

"And not only that, I think they're tired of me yelling at them about Israel bashing."

Ben Evansky contributed to this report.

Follow Eric Shawn on Twitter: @EricShawnTV

Follow Eric Shawn on Twitter: @EricShawnTV