Russia and China veto resolution on Syria at UN

 

Paul Wood, and cameraman Fred Scott, were smuggled into Homs

An Arab and Western-backed resolution condemning the violent crackdown in Syria has been vetoed at the UN Security Council by Russia and China.

They rejected the draft as "unbalanced" hours after activists accused troops of killing at least 55 people at Homs.

Western countries said the move would encourage Syria's government to continue its violent clampdown.

A BBC correspondent who entered Homs with rebels after the vote says gun and shell fire can be heard in the city.

'Craven tyrant'

The draft resolution, supported by all 13 other members of the Security Council, had adopted an Arab League call for a "Syrian-led political transition to a democratic, plural political system".

Russia said it singled out the government of President Bashar al-Assad, and did not contain measures against armed opposition groups.

At the scene

As we came into the city this afternoon we heard a lot of heavy machine-gun fire and there were a lot of unexplained explosions.

We had to come in using a very elaborate route, escorted by activists who were bringing medical supplies and fresh blood donated a few hours earlier in the villages around Homs.

There is some dispute over the number of people killed here but they are still finding bodies and we expect more funerals on Sunday.

What does seem to have happened is that the Free Syrian Army have been pushed out of the suburb of Khalidiya, which bore the brunt of what the activists say was a heavy attack by the government side.

The rebel fighters are now squeezed into one very small part of Homs, from where I'm speaking, and which expects to be assaulted by Syrian government forces next.

Proposed Russian amendments to the text were described as "unacceptable" by the US ambassador to the UN, Susan Rice.

Ms Rice condemned the vetoes as "shameful". It showed, she said, how Russia and China aimed to "sell out the Syrian people and shield a craven tyrant".

"Any further bloodshed that flows will be on their hands," Ms Rice added.

Britain's Foreign Secretary William Hague said the Russian and Chinese approach "lets the Syrian people down, and will only encourage President Assad's brutal regime to increase the killing".

French President Nicolas Sarkozy said his country would not give up seeking a solution. "The Syrian tragedy must stop," he said.

Mohammed Loulichki, Morocco's ambassador to the UN and the sole Arab member of the current council, voiced "great regret and disappointment" that Moscow and Beijing had struck it down.

But Russia's Ambassador, Vitaly Churkin, insisted the draft resolution had lacked balance.

"Some influential members of the international community unfortunately... have been undermining the opportunity for political settlement, calling for a regime change, pushing the oppositionists to power," he said.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is due to have talks with Mr Assad in Damascus on Tuesday.

Beijing's ambassador to the UN, Li Baodong, said the resolution would have been counter-productive.

US Ambassador Susan Rice: "For months this council has been held hostage by a couple of members"

"China maintains that, under the current circumstances, to put undue emphasis on pressuring the Syrian government... or impose any solution will not help resolve the Syrian issue," he said.

Pro-Assad residents in the Syrian capital Damascus welcomed the Sino-Russian stance.

"I believe there are more important issues for the Security Council to take care of... such as the starvation in Somalia, and Gaza," one told BBC News.

"Isn't there anything else apart from us for the Security Council to deal with?"

Cut off

Early accounts of the casualties in Homs talked of as many as 200 deaths, but one of the main activist groups later revised its confirmed toll down to 55.

Fighting in Homs continued into the evening, the BBC's Paul Woods reports from a rooftop in a suburb of the city.

Our correspondent and his cameraman heard a lot of heavy machine-gun fire and unexplained explosions when they entered the city during the afternoon, travelling with activists who were carrying supplies of fresh blood to treat casualties.

The city appeared to have come under a "pretty relentless" bombardment on Friday, our correspondent adds, and parts of the city which oppose the regime have been cut off.

Ammar, a Homs resident, told the Associated Press news agency: "A few more nights like this one and Homs will be erased from the map."

Homs was one of the first cities to join anti-Assad protests, and became one of the focal points of dissent after government forces fired on crowds in April last year. Many army defectors have sought refuge in the city.

Syria map

State media dismissed the Homs casualty reports as a "hysterical campaign of incitement" by armed gangs designed to influence the UN.

International media outlets are restricted in Syria, making it difficult to verify the claims of either side.

Tunisia moved to sever relations with the Assad government following the Homs violence

Activists have been attacking Syrian embassies around the world in response to the violence in Homs.

Syria has been gripped by nationwide protests against Mr Assad's government for almost a year, in a struggle that has claimed at least 5,400 lives, according to the UN.

 

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Syria conflict

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  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 136.

    I've been in touch with friends in Syria. When asked if everything is ok, the answer is always 'Yes'. Either the world news has got it totally wrong (ahem) .... or they are too s--t scared to say anything else. Please don't let it be the latter... or else the whole world will have blood on it's hands!!!

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 135.

    There is a moral case to consider.

    Even if it is wrong R+C and UN don't object for high moral reasons.

    But we're expected to militarily intervene with
    - no assassinations
    - no troops on the ground
    - killing no civilians
    - rebuilding all infrastructure
    - full media coverage

    This makes it beyond UK: -
    no Aircraft carrier & committed to Falklands

    US won't act in election year

  • rate this
    -6

    Comment number 134.

    The world stands by while another country suffers incredibly. My heart aches.

  • rate this
    +6

    Comment number 133.

    I don't see any innocent nations, governments, religions or politicians. Just ordinary people, as usual, stuck in the middle of power struggles.

    To those complaining about the 'west'? I live in the UK, so I suppose that makes me part of the 'west'. I care what happens in the world and what all governments do, everywhere. I also worry about any extremism - whether political or religious.

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 132.

    UN has not made any constructive solution for any conflict around the world and it works as what USA wants.They never think of people who living in Asia or Africa,I totally agree the decision made by Russia and China in this case,opposition of Syria works according to a timetable made by USA.,and they want to be killed more people to take their power.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 131.

    And now we have a crowd fighting police officers and causing public disorder. It shows it all really, the asylum seekers who were given a refuge in this country show us how they pay us back and contribute to our society. Just go back to where you came from.

  • rate this
    -5

    Comment number 130.

    @ Bradford. Morality isn't a game - it's a basic basic human value. And yes we can afford it and so can everyone else. In the short term I can understand what you mean, but we need to be thinking about "our" grandchildren and "their" grandchildren and how they can exist together. China and Russia have let us all down again. Not that the US & UK are perfect, but they're right on this one.

  • rate this
    +10

    Comment number 129.

    Well Done Russia and China they have learnt the lesson of the abuse of the UN resolution over Libya for backing one side in a civil war, for regime change. Leave Syria alone, let them get on with it.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 128.

    I wonder who is really supporting these rebels in Syria. It wouldn't be Mossad and the CIA like they did in Lybia and countelsss other countries many times before throghout history.

  • rate this
    +10

    Comment number 127.

    I am grateful that Russia and China are on the security council. If it wasn't for their balanced approach we would have British troops attacking Iran, Syria, and I'm sure some other middle eastern countries, as well as already having troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. And then we have to keep troops in the country for years to come to bring security to the country.

  • rate this
    +14

    Comment number 126.

    The Western leaders were supporting Mubarek until the Egyptians over throw him. Bahrain suppressed its people. Torture and murders are taking place in Libya, BBC has reported a gruesome torture and murder of a former diplomat and Western leaders should take responsibility for this crime. Israel commits crimes at will against the Palestinians. What is the justification to act against Syria?

  • rate this
    -22

    Comment number 125.

    As much as the violence is appalling, it is perpetrated by both sides and, to be fair, any violent uprising should be quelled by the authorities with a proportionate response. The difference here is that the West seem to think that terrorism is ok if it seeks to install democracy, which is laughable. Russia and China do well to rein back the hypocritical excesses of the West and to add balance.

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 124.

    >steve1955 why vetoe the resolution do they condone the bloodshed
    Steve, had it not occurred to you that they are trying to minimize the bloodshed? Have you given a thought of how many are going to be killed (perhaps hundreds of thousands), displaced (perhaps millions) in the sectarian violence, which Assad's regime is trying to contain and "western" media incittes? Rivers of blood to come...

  • rate this
    -8

    Comment number 123.

    To #98

    The Isrealis are constantly under threat from Hamas, Hezbollah and the Iran. The Isreali State is wrong to use disproportionate force but what should they do? I'm no fan either of illegal settlements. But if Iran had it's way every Jew in the world would be wiped off the face of the earth which the Government there are happy to endorse.

  • rate this
    +12

    Comment number 122.

    #119
    "it's interesting that Iran is a member of the UN, but not a member of the Arab League? Hmm."

    Ever pause to think that might be because Iranians aren't arabs?

  • rate this
    +31

    Comment number 121.

    The UN resolution was to protect Libyan civilians ONLY. Yet we saw what NATO did in Libya. Why should Russia and China trust the West with a UN resolution against the Assad regime?

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 120.

    China has veto-ed because they also use the Chinese military on their own citizens. Remember Tiannamen Square?
    The Chinese authorities my be ruthless, but they are not ruthless hypocrites.

  • rate this
    -5

    Comment number 119.

    It's not a matter of East v West or West v East anymore. It's North and South and all of us.

    The United Nations needs to come up to speed and be even more multi-lateral. BTW. It's interesting that Iran is a member of the UN, but not a member of the Arab League? Hmm.

    Syria is a member of the Arab League and the United Nations. So, what's really going on? Just a few thoughts.

  • rate this
    +7

    Comment number 118.

    Why should China and Russia exercising their veto prerogative cause such a vitriolic response from the western powers? Western powers, particularly the US, have used that entitlement far more often. And in practically all such cases, including this present veto, the reasoning is politically motivated, not based on real humanitarian concerns.

  • rate this
    +6

    Comment number 117.

    Britain pour money & lives into political change which has not economic benefit for the UK.

    China & Russia look after their commercial interests

    Are we really wealthy enough to play this moral game

 

Page 29 of 35

 

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