Following Wednesday's bomb attack on the Syrian parliament which killed key members of the ruling party, the longstanding conflict there between rebels and the government has sharply deteriorated as violence spiraled out of control. In response, the United Nations Security Council today voted on a resolution to permit sanctions against the Syrian government, but it was voted down by Russia and China, President Bashar al-Assad's staunchest allies. From AP:
The 11-2 vote, with two abstentions from South Africa and Pakistan, was the third double veto of a resolution addressing the Syria crisis, now in its 17th month, by Damascus’ most important allies.
The key stumbling block was the West’s insistence that a new resolution be drafted under Chapter 7 of the U.N. Charter, which could eventually allow the use of force to end the conflict, and threaten non-military sanctions against the Syrian regime if it didn’t withdraw troops and heavy weapons from populated areas within 10 days.
Russia’s U.N. Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said the resolution should never have been put to a vote because the sponsors knew it had no chance of adoption.
“We simply cannot accept a document under Chapter 7, one which would open the path for the pressure of sanctions and further to external military involvement in Syrian domestic affairs,” he said.
The official Xinhua News Agency defended the Chinese government's position in an editorial on Friday:
The draft resolution proposed by Western countries is “seriously problematic”, with uneven content that is intended to put pressure on only one party in Syria, China's permanent representative to the UN Li Baodong said here Thursday after exercising veto over the draft resolution.
“Experience has proven that such practice would not help resolve the Syrian issue, but instead would only derail the issue from the track of political settlement,” Li said, adding “It will not only further aggravate the turmoil, but also result in spillover of the problem to other countries in the region, undermine regional peace and stability, and ultimately impair the interests of the people in Syria and the region at large.”
But China's decision – the third such veto on Syria – was strongly criticized by other Security Council members. From Bloomberg:
Western diplomats today attacked Russia for putting first its historic links and economic interests with Assad. Syria is an arms customer and hosts Russia’s only military base outside the former Soviet Union in the port of Tartus.
“The effect of their actions is to protect a brutal regime,” U.K. Ambassador to the UN Mark Lyall Grant told the council after the vote. “They have chosen to put their national interests ahead of the lives of millions of Syrians.”