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John Metzler Archive
Monday, October 10, 2011

Russia-China double veto
at the UN allows Syria
to get away with murder

UNITED NATIONS — In a rare use of a double veto, both China and Russia, shot down a weak Western-backed draft resolution urging human rights in Syria. By failing to adopt the resolution condemning “grave and systematic human rights abuses” by the Syrian rulers, the UN Security Council again stumbled on the road to Damascus.


A day after the vote, political aftershocks were still being felt in the UN as representatives from the four European countries who drafted the text; France, Germany, Portugal and the United Kingdom, were in damage control mode, saying as the French Ambassador Gerard Araud stressed, “This veto will not stop us …. No veto can give carte blanche to the Syrian authorities.”

The political demonstrations and violence which have rocked Syria since March have taken nearly three thousand lives prompting the UN to again to demand that the regime immediately “halt its violent offensive” against civilians and allow freedom of expression, peaceful assembly, release of political prisoners, and national dialogue.

Also In This Edition

Originally European states, especially France pushed for sanctions on its former Levantine colony; Paris in a demarche withdrew the sanctions stick as a way to make the text more acceptable to the fifteen member Council. It did not help.

U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice conceded that the U.S. was “outraged” that the Council had failed to address serious human rights violations, adding that two members had vetoed a “vastly watered down text that didn’t even mention sanctions.” Surprise, surprise!

China and Russia both used their veto votes to block a UN Security Council resolution calling for an immediate halt to the crackdown in Syria against opponents of the government of President Bashar al-Assad.     AFP
Through the political lens of Beijing and Moscow the veto against even a weak resolution was perfectly logical. Russia’s cozy and once comradely links to Syria date to the former Soviet era and have remained close to this day. For China’s communist rulers, the Syrian situation holds uncomfortable domestic political parallels for Beijing, which has held suffocating political control on the Mainland as do the Assad family rulers in Damascus.

Though the European-sponsored draft resolution also gained the support of the needed nine votes, including the United States, four countries abstained; Brazil, India, Lebanon and South Africa.

The abstentions are crucial as these countries view the evolving Syrian situation as a new case of Libya, where the debatable doctrine of “responsibility to protect,” may soon be invoked. Though the resolution had absolutely nothing to hint of intervention, Russia presented a case behind closed doors that the Libyan precedent is clear. And even though Russia abstained on the March 17th resolution which led to NATO’s intervention to unseat Col. Gadhafi, for now Moscow was steadfastly supporting its old friend in Damascus.

While the European text clearly stated “Reaffirming its strong commitment to the sovereignty, independence, territorial integrity and national unity of Syria,” and the need to “resolve the current crisis in Syria peacefully, some Council members seem to not to have read the text or were convinced it was a pretext for a Libya-style intervention.

While Brazil made an honorable point saying that there should “have been more efforts to master broader support before the text had been tabled…more time could have allowed for the differences to be bridged.” Yes, but this would not have not likely changed the two vetoes.

Interestingly having used its veto, now Moscow has called on the Damascus rulers to either change their ways or step down. President Dimitri Medvedev stated, If the Syrian leadership is incapable of conducting such reforms, it will have to go.”

This very point was well addressed by Germany’s Ambassador Peter Wittig who conceded “The European sponsors of the current text had worked towards a compromise and had made substantial concessions.” Ambassador Wittig admonished, “We do not want to stand idly by while atrocities are being committed.” He added that the Syrian regime would be held accountable. “Germany would push for sanctions,” he stressed.

In fact, the European Union has already enacted a wide swath of tough economic sanctions which embargo Syrian petroleum exports.

Syria’s delegate called the UN debate “unprecedented, aggressive language” against his government.

So what is to be done in Syria? Pressing a left-wing authoritarian regime for an end to the violence and allowing human rights are well and good but fail to confront the core of Syrian power: the Assad regime, the empowered Alawite Muslim minority, and the support from the Islamic Republic of Iran, not to mention China and Russia.

The road to Damascus is strewn with good intentions but hard political realities await those trying to help the embattled Syrian people.

John J. Metzler is a U.N. correspondent covering diplomatic and defense issues. He writes weekly for


That's right and it preserves for now the most cruel regime in Middle East. However, acceptance of that resolution would pave way to Libya style intervention, ethnic cleansing of about 20% of the population in Syria, and much more higher level of murder there. It would end up in either and Egypt kind of anarchy and military rule or the complete control of Syria by Muslim Brotherhood.

Michael Schnittke      1:46 p.m. / Monday, October 10, 2011

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