Russia and China Block UN Resolution on Syria

Posted February 4th, 2012 at 7:15 pm (UTC-5)
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Russia and China on Saturday again vetoed a U.N. Security Council resolution on Syria condemning President Bashar al-Assad's nearly year-long crackdown on his people and calling for him step down.

Thirteen remaining member states voted in favor, including the United States, France and Germany.

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.”

After the vote, U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice expressed Washington's 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 said Russia is committed to ending the bloodshed and will send Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and the foreign intelligence service chief, Mikhail Fradkov, to Syria Tuesday to meet with President Assad.

Syrian ambassador Bashar Ja'afari accused members of the United Nations of supporting what he called “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.”

The U.N. vote came just hours after U.S. President Barack Obama condemned Damascus for what he called “the Syrian government's unspeakable assault against the people of Homs” that killed more than 200 people early Saturday. He also urged the council to take a stand against President Assad's “relentless brutality” and again called on him to step down, saying he “has no right to lead Syria and has lost all legitimacy with his people and the international community.”

The government in Damascus has denied the assault and said the reports were part of a campaign by armed groups to influence the outcome of the U.N. vote.

Syrian opposition supporters, meanwhile, buried the dead Saturday from what they called a “massacre” in Homs. Angry mourners chanted slogans against the Syrian regime as they carried the coffins of the victims.

In the Damascus suburb of Daraya Saturday, Syrian security forces opened fire on a crowd during what was reportedly a sympathy march for Hom's victims, killing at least 12 people.

The violence sparked protests outside Syrian embassies across the Middle East and Europe Saturday. Protesters stormed Syrian embassies in Berlin, London, Athens, Cairo and Kuwait City, clashing with guards and police.

Tunisia has expelled Syria's ambassador and decided 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.”