NEW YORK – Representatives of the United States and European governments
expressed outrage after Russia and China vetoed a United Nations Security
Council resolution on Tuesday that would have condemned the Syrian government
for its tough crackdown on protesters, and Turkey vowed to pursue its own form
of sanctions against the Assad regime.
The UN draft resolution received
nine votes in favor and four abstentions. US Ambassador Susan Rice said
Washington was outraged and called for “tough targeted sanctions” on
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Russia’s ambassador Vitaly Churkin said Moscow rejected the
threat of sanctions on Syria and China’s envoy Li Baodong said Beijing opposed
“interference in [Syria’s] internal affairs.”
Moscow had voiced concern
that the resolution could have paved the way for a Libya-style military
Russia and China both want to limit Western influence in
the Middle East.
US Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice said the Security
Council “utterly failed to address an urgent moral challenge and a growing
threat to regional peace and security.”
Rice said that several of the
body’s members had “sought for weeks to weaken and strip bare any text that
would have defended the lives of innocent civilians from Assad’s
The veto was exercised by Russia and China on a “vastly
watered-down text” that did not even mention sanctions, said Rice.
has repeatedly advocated sanctions as well as an arms embargo on the Assad
In damning, pointed language, Rice said that “the courageous
people of Syria can now clearly see who on this Council supports their yearning
for liberty and universal human rights-and who does not.”
this season of change, the people of the Middle East can now see clearly which
nations have chosen to ignore their calls for democracy and instead prop up
desperate, cruel dictators,” Rice said. “Those who oppose this resolution and
give cover to a brutal regime will have to answer to the Syrian people – and,
indeed, to people across the region who are pursuing the same universal
Rice bitterly noted that the Security Council “has not yet
passed even a hortatory resolution to counter the Assad regime’s brutal
“Let there be no doubt: this is not about military
intervention,” Rice said. “This is not about Libya. That is a cheap ruse by
those who would rather sell arms to the Syrian regime than stand with the Syrian
Rice said that the “crisis in Syria will stay before the
Security Council, and we will not rest until this Council rises to meet its
UK Foreign Secretary William Hague said he was
“disappointed” by Russia and China’s decision to veto the
“This will be seen in the region as a decision to side with a
brutal regime rather than with the people of Syria, and will be a bitter blow to
all those Syrians who have implored the international community to take a
stand,” he said. Calling the resolution as drafted “entirely reasonable,” Hague
said that it stressed the rejection of violence and that a political transition
ought to be led by the Syrians.
The draft resolution, Hague made clear,
was explicit that Security Council consideration of sanctions against Syria
should not include military action.
“Those who blocked it,” Hague said of
the resolution, “will have this action on their conscience.”
“This is a
sad day for the Syrian people. It’s a sad day for the Security Council,”
France’s Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said, adding that France would continue to
support the “just cause” of Syrians he said were fighting for
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan promised action on
his own despite the Security Council veto.
“Naturally the veto… cannot
prevent sanctions,” Erdogan said from his visit to South Africa. “We will of
necessity implement a package of sanctions.”
“The [Syrian] leadership is
losing the respect of its people,” said Erdogan, whose country has given refuge
to a Syrian colonel who has joined the anti-Assad revolt.
Erdogan said he
will more formally delineate his sanction plans after he visits a Syrian refugee
camp in Turkey within the week.
Assad has used tanks and troops to crush
an uprising which erupted in March, inspired by regional revolts which toppled
three North African leaders this year. The United Nations says 2,700 civilians
have been killed.
Damascus blames the violence on foreign-backed armed
groups which it says have killed at least 700 security personnel.