Security Council still stuck over condemnation of Syria

Russia, China fear resolution would lead to Libya-style military intervention with ‘dramatic and catastrophic consequences’

By GIL STERN STERN SHEFLER
August 3, 2011 03:59
2 minute read.
The United Nations Security Council [file]

UN Security Council_311. (photo credit: Reuters)

 
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The UN Security Council on Monday remained deeply divided over how to react to news of growing violence in Syria, where the government recently launched a military campaign that left at least 122 protesters dead.

In an urgent meeting held at the UN headquarters in New York, Western countries used diplomatic pressure in an attempt to condemn Damascus.

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However, they failed to convince permanent council members China and Russia to refrain from vetoing the resolution. Those countries believe a resolution could lead to military intervention, as did a similar motion passed on Libya.

“We are very strongly against, and have taken a very strong and clear position – thankfully supported by a number of members of the Security Council – that to go down the Libyan road would have dramatic and catastrophic consequences for Syria and for the region,” said Russia’s ambassador to the UN, Vitaly Churkin.

Churkin’s argument was rebuffed by US Ambassador Susan Rice, who claimed Libya was being used as an excuse to justify inaction.

“That is a canard,” she said. “Frankly, in my opinion it has been an excuse by those that don’t want to confront what is happening in Syria. There has never been in any of the drafts that the Europeans have circulated anything that should remind anybody of Libya for good or ill.”

Britain, France, Germany and Portugal put forward a resolution on Syria in April, but it never reached a vote due to opposition by Russia, China, India, South Africa and Lebanon.

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The Israeli mission to the UN had no comment on Monday’s debate, but Jewish groups such as the American Jewish Committee called on the Security Council to “face off mass murder and repression by the Syrian government against protesters.”

AJC executive director David Harris said the Security Council has so far remained “deafeningly silent” about the violence in Syria.

“The stumbling block has been the opposition of several key members unwilling to adopt a resolution critical of the Assad regime,” Harris said. “This is beyond shameful. People are being killed in ever larger numbers, and many more have been arrested and not heard from since.”

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