Bloomberg reports: Failure by the United Nations Security Council to deliver global condemnation of Syria gives President Bashar al-Assad room to continue his 11-month crackdown on protesters.
While 13 countries in the 15-member Security Council voted yesterday to adopt a proposal by Western and Arab countries to end the bloodshed, Russia used its veto to block the draft resolution against its top Mideast ally. Taking Russia’s lead, China also cast a veto.
Assad stands to benefit from the collapse of the resolution a day after reports that security forces killed 330 people in the city of Homs, one of the bloodiest attacks since protests began last March. This is the second time Russia has blocked attempts at the UN to hold Assad accountable for a conflict that the UN says has killed more than 5,400 people.
The veto gives Assad a “license to kill,” Qatari Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Khalid Al Attiyah said today at a security conference in Munich. “Yesterday was a sad day,” he said. “This is exactly what we feared.”
Syrian Ambassador Bashar al-Jafari told the council after the vote that the “killing was carried out by terrorist opposition to send you a misleading message in an attempt to influence the vote.”
Tony Karon notes: [T]he willingness of Beijing and Moscow to break with their Western counterparts among the Permanent Five (veto-wielding members of the U.N. Security Council) on Syria also casts a shadow over the Obama Administration’s efforts to isolate and pressure Iran over its nuclear program.
Russia and China have long made clear that their perception of the Iran issue is quite different from that of the Western powers — while they believe Iran is required to comply with its NPT obligations, they don’t believe Iran is developing nuclear weapons or that it’s program poses a threat to international security, and they have demanded a greater emphasis on dialogue with Tehran in resolving the issue and addressing its underlying strategic rivalry.
The Obama Administration has worked hard to win Russian and Chinese support for a limited set of Security Council sanctions, even though both countries have bluntly rejected compliance with the unilateral measures against Iran’s energy sector adopted by the U.S. and its European allies.
The Syria vote served up a reminder of just how unlikely it is that the Security Council will pass any significant escalation of sanctions against Iran, much less provide legal authorization for the military option President Obama insists has not been taken off the table.