After months of negotiating terms and drafting a UN resolution determined to put a stop to the violence in Syria, Russia and China have yet again vetoed the most recent, and what will be the last, draft. This was met with outrage from many UN member countries and Syrians living overseas.
US Secretary of state Hillary Clinton condemned the decision, saying that those who opposed the resolution would be “complicit in the continuing violence and bloodshed” in Syria. William Hague, UK foreign secretary, on the other hand, said that the veto supports the “brutal suppression of the Syrian people in support of [Russia’s and China’s] national interests.”
In view of the worsening violence in Syria, which killed 47 protesters yesterday in the city of Homs, the US has proposed an international coalition to support Syria’s opposition against President Bashar al-Assad. Rebel soldiers believe that force is the only way they can topple Mr. Assad’s regime, even though there are fears that if the opposition turns overtly to armed resistance, it could lead to a civil war and an increase in bloodshed.
Meanwhile, the head of the Arab parliament has called for Arab countries to expel Syria’s ambassadors and sever diplomatic relations with Syria, which will stand to protest against Mr. Assad’s regime. Tunisia has already expelled its Syrian ambassador. French minister of foreign affairs Alan Juppe has also said that France “will first help the Syrian opposition structure itself, strengthen European sanctions against the Syrian regime, raise international pressure and at one point it will realize it’s completely isolated and cannot continue.”
Worldwide, responses to Syrian forces killing of more than 200 people in Homes have seen demonstrators protesting outside of seven Syrian embassies in Europe, Australia and the Middle East. This includes the breaking in of embassies in London and Berlin. Opposing rallies were recently held outside the Russian embassy in Beirut, with one group opposing Russia’s decision to veto the UN resolution and the other rallying in support of Mr. Assad’s crackdown in Syria. Syrian protestors also stormed the Russia embassy in Tripoli, Libya last Friday following Russia’s veto.
There have been concerns over Russia’s selling of weapons to Syria, which many believe is an effort to preserve their navy base in Tartus and their arms trade with Syria. UN director at Humans Rights Watch Philippe Bolopion has commented that “the Russian government is not only unapologetically arming a government that is killing its own people, but also providing it with diplomatic cover.”
Another major concern is the possibility that Hezbollah and Iran might attack Israel if Western powers interfere with Syria against Mr. Assad’s regimes. While there has been no official press release from either the group or the country, reports have been circulating the news. There will be dire implications for both Syria and the international community if the reports are true.
Report: Clinton calls for ‘immense pressure’ on Assad [Bloomberg, 6 January 2012]
Report: US ‘disgusted’ with Syria peace plan veto [Financial Times, 5 January 2012]
Report: Britain under pressure to withdraw diplomatic recognition of Syria [Telegraph, 5 February 2012]
Report: After UN veto, US proposes Syria coalition [Sydney Morning Herald, 6 February 2012]
Report: France plans new Syria initiatives, mulls more sanctions [Reuters, 5 February 2012]
Report: ‘Hezbollah will hit Israel if Syria attacked’ [The Jerusalem Post, 5 February 2012]