The United States expressed strong critiques of a Russian and Chinese double-veto on Saturday of a United Nations resolution aimed at ending the bloodshed in Syria. President Bashar al-Assad is accused of leading a brutal crackdown on dissidents in the country that has killed thousands, resulting in an Arab League plan for ending the violence and allowing internal political freedoms in the country.
However, the Arab League-proposed resolution in the UN Security Council was vetoed in a 13-2 vote. It was the second UN veto on Syria by Russia and China in four months.
The Russians have long expressed concerns that UN action could lead to international military intervention in Syria, as happened in Libya. However, US Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice, in comments released by her office, said they “bent over backwards” to meet the concerns of one of the Council members, presumably Russia.
“There were those who saw what seemed to me to be a phantom, that somehow this resolution might be construed as authorizing the use of force, even when it was patently obvious that that wasn’t the case. But just to underscore it, we wrote that into the resolution,” said Rice. “There were some who wanted to pretend that this resolution imposed sanctions. It never did, never from the beginning in any other iterations.”
The resolution did include a timeline for internationally-supervised political reforms in Syria, which Rice intimated was one of the issues that led to the veto. She said they insisted the timeline be included, calling it “crucial.”
In earlier, stronger comments during the Security Council session, Rice was quoted by her office as saying they were “disgusted” by the vetoes, and said regarding Russia and China, “any further blood that flows [in Syria] will be on their hands.”
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, on Sunday in comments released by the State Department, called the vetoes a “a travesty.”
Said Clinton, “Those countries that refuse to support the Arab League plan bear full responsibly for protecting the brutal regime in Damascus.”
Clinton also addressed what will happen next. “Faced with a neutered Security Council, we have to redouble our efforts outside of the United Nations with those allies and partners who support the Syrian people’s right to have a better future,” said Clinton.
“We have to increase diplomatic pressure on the Assad regime and work to convince those people around President Assad that he must go, and that there has to be a recognition of that and a new start to try to form a government that will represent all of the people of Syria.”
Clinton also said that they will seek regional sanctions against Syria and “strengthen” already existing ones. “They will be implemented to the fullest to dry up the sources of funding and the arms shipments that are keeping the regime’s war machine going,” said Clinton of the sanctions.
“We will work to expose those who are still are funding the regime and sending them weapons that are used against defenseless Syrians, including women and children. And we will work with the friends of a democratic Syria around the world to support the opposition’s peaceful political plans for change. We will work to provide what humanitarian relief we are able to do so.”
Clinton also said they would work with allies around the world to consult on what can be done to “rescue this deteriorating situation before it’s too late.”
(By Joshua Spurlock, www.themideastupdate.com, February 6, 2012)