Russia Criticizes Arab-Western Draft Resolution on Syria

Posted January 27th, 2012 at 6:45 am (UTC-5)
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Russia says it cannot support the current version of a joint Arab-Western draft U.N. resolution on Syria because it “does not take into account” Moscow's positions on how to end the 10-month-old political crisis.

Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov was quoted by Russia's ITAR-TASS news agency as saying that Russia is concerned the resolution does not specifically rule out military intervention. He also criticized the draft for mentioning economic sanctions imposed earlier by the Arab League.

Later Friday, the U.N. Security Council is expected to discuss the resolution, which supports an Arab League plan calling for President Bashar al-Assad to transfer power to a deputy and form a national unity government to prepare for elections.

Officials who have seen the proposal say it had hoped to attract Russian support by using language that may leave open the possibility for Mr. Assad to stay in office, but in a limited role. They also say the document hints at, but does not call for, economic sanctions.

Russia has repeatedly promised to block any resolution calling for Mr. Assad's removal, economic sanctions, or military action. In December, Moscow presented its own resolution how to solve the crisis, but it was criticized by many Western diplomats as being too easy on Mr. Assad's government.

U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Friday urged the 15-member council to take action on the proposal, saying leaders should “seize this moment.”

“I hope that the Security Council will be able to act in a coherent and same voice.”

Arab League chief Nabil Elaraby and Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim al-Thani are expected to formally present the plan to the Security Council next week, and a vote is expected soon thereafter.

Meanwhile, activist groups said violence continued Friday in Syria. The Local Coordination Committees group said Syrian security forces killed three people in the central city of Homs, two in the northwestern Idlib province and one in the suburbs of Damascus.

The group also said that forces carried out a pre-dawn raid in the flashpoint city of Homs.