The U.N. Security Council met yesterday to discuss disagreements regarding the UN resolution on Syria. The resolution, which is still currently in draft form, was proposed by Morocco and calls for President Bashar al-Assad to hand over his powers to his deputy. The primary concern was the wording of the document, which has been deemed unclear.
Although most Western foreign ministers were in favor of the draft, Russia’s envoy to the EU said that unless the resolution expressively rejected armed intervention, Russia would not support it. This was confirmed later on by Russian U.N. envoy Vitaly Churkin, who said: “If the text will be unacceptable for us we will vote against it”.
Russia’s other worry is that the situation in Syria might turn out to be similar to Libya’s if the resolution is not properly worded. A mandate passed March last year in the UN resolution for Libya saw the overthrow of Gaddafi’s government, backed by NATO airstrikes, when instead it was supposed to protect civilians in the country’s uprising. Russia has also stated that it will oppose the resolution if threats against Syria might lead to sanctions in the future.
China, the other country that has refused to support the resolution unless reworded, dismissed it as “meddlesome”. In a statement by the Chinese Ambassador to the UN, Li Baodong said that “China…resolutely opposes pushing for forced regime change in Syria, as it violates the United Nations Charter and the basic norms guiding the practice of international relations.”
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has urged the international community to “put aside [their] differences and send a clear message of support to the people of Syria” in view of the "brutal, dictorial regime".
Meanwhile in Syria, violence has continued to escalate. It is estimated that political violence in Syria has killed at least 5000 people in the past 10 months. Battles in a string of towns in the mountains overlooking Damascus began just yesterday as Syrian troops launched a new assault to crush army defectors in areas around the capital. It is reported that at least 25 people have already been killed by that sweep.
According to activists, President Bashar Assad’s forces have intensified their crackdown since the UN talks on the resolution started.
Report: Western nations pressing Russia on Syria UN resolution [BBC News, 2 February 2012]
Report: U.N. may be last chance for peace in Syria [CNN, 1 February 2012]
Report: Russia says will veto unacceptable Syria resolution [Reuters, 1 February 2012]