Russia and China Block UN Resolution on Syria

Posted February 4th, 2012 at 4:25 pm (UTC-5)
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Russia and China have again vetoed a U.N. Security Council resolution on Syria condemning President Bashar al-Assad's nearly year-long crackdown on his people.

The 15-member council voted on a Western and Arab-backed resolution that condemned the violence and called for Mr. Assad to step aside. Thirteen members voted in favor, including the United States, France and Germany.

The U.N. vote trailed one of the bloodiest crackdowns yet by the Assad regime. Syrian security forces launched a heavy barrage of mortar and artillery fire on the Syrian city of Homs early Saturday, killing more than 200 people.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon condemned the failed resolution, saying the Security Council has “lost an opportunity to take unified action” to help end the crisis. Mr. Ban said the inconclusiveness on Syria “undermines the role of the United Nations” in a time it needs to have a “unified voice” calling on the Mr. Assad's government to end the violence against its people.

Russia and China's veto made a clear statement just hours after U.S. President Barack Obama urged, in some of his strongest remarks yet, the council to take a stand against President Assad's “relentless brutality.”

After the vote, U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice expressed, in a critical statement, the United States' disappointment with Russia and China, but she maintained that the U.S. will not give up or turn its back on Syria.

“The United States is disgusted that a couple members of this council continue to prevent us from fulfilling our sole purpose here: addressing an ever deepening crisis in Syria and a growing threat to regional peace and security.”

Russia defended its decision, saying members of the council have been undermining the opportunity for political settlement by calling for a regime change, pushing the opposition towards power and feeding methods of armed struggle.

“The draft resolution that was put to a vote did not adequately reflect the real state of affairs in Syria, and has sent an unbalanced signal to the Syrian parties.”

Churkin says Russia is committed to ending the bloodshed, and is taking measures to do so. Russia announced Saturday that it will send Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and the Kremlin's foreign intelligence service chief, Mikhail Fradkov, to Syria on Tuesday to meet with President Bashar al-Assad.

Prior to the vote, the council had rejected Russia's proposed amendments that included equalizing the blame for the violence between anti- and pro-government forces.

In a speech to the Security Council, Syrian ambassador Bashar Ja'afari accused members of the United Nations of supporting what he calls “armed terrorists” for the violent crackdown against Syrian citizens.

“I would like to stress, Mr. President, in this context that the Syrian Arab Republic — which is a founding member of this world organization — has been targeted by some powers to punish it as a result of its commitment to international legality, especially in areas of defending the rights of people. Today, Syria is a sacrifice of a crisis manufactured by parties who do not want good for Syria and its people.”

Syrians took to the streets across the country Saturday in protest of the hundreds killed since Friday. A massive funeral was held for the dead in Homs, while Syrian security forces opened fired on another funeral procession, killing at least 12 people in the Damascus suburb of Daraya.

The violence sparked protests outside Syrian embassies across the Middle East and Europe Saturday. Protesters stormed the embassy in London, breaking windows and into the building. British police arrested several protesters, and later had to use batons to hold back protesters in a second attempt to break into the embassy.

Tunisia took a stand against the intensifying violence in Syria on Saturday. In a statement on his Facebook page Saturday, President Moncef Marzouki said Tunisia decided to expel Syria's ambassador and to end its recognition of Mr. Assad's government.

“The reality is that Russia and China have today taken a choice to turn their backs on the Arab World and to support tyranny rather than the legitimate aspirations of the Syrian people.”

Chinese ambassador Wang Min said Beijing supports Moscow's stance on the resolution and called for more discussions on the divisive parts of the paper.

“It is regrettable that these reasonable concerns are not taken into account. To put through a vote when parties are still seriously divided over the issue, will not help maintain the unity and authority of the Security Council or help properly resolve the issue.”