'China veto on Syria was gesture to Russia'

Oren Kessler discusses Syria’s fate and its ongoing relationship with China and Russia.

UNSC vote on Syria resolution 390 R (photo credit: REUTERS/Allison Joyce)
UNSC vote on Syria resolution 390 R
(photo credit: REUTERS/Allison Joyce)
This week, The Jerusalem Post’s Middle East affairs correspondent, Oren Kessler, discusses the reasons behind China and Russia’s ongoing support of Syria.
According to Kessler, China and Russia’s veto of a UN Security Council resolution that called for Syrian President Bashar Assad to step down is the result of long standing ties between Russia and Syria.
In addition to the presence of a Russian naval port in Syria, Russia also sells arms to Syria.
Russia and China also benefit from extensive ties, particularly in the field of energy. As such, according to Kessler, the Chinese veto in favor of Syria came about by proxy in the interests of preserving China’s relationship with Russia.
Kessler avers that while there isn’t much appetite in the West for military intervention—as indicated in the recent past with Libya—there are discussions taking place about setting up a humanitarian corridor either on Syria’s border with Turkey or with Lebanon, with the purpose of helping fleeing civilians.
According to Kessler, the complexity of Syria’s demographics and the fact that a census hasn’t been conducted in decades make it difficult to predict who is likely to succeed Assad should his regime crumble.
Syria’s Sunni population is estimated between 60 and 70 percent, though it’s unclear how many of those support Islamist groups, including the Muslim Brotherhood. The other critical question, says Kessler, is whether Assad’s successor will maintain Syria’s close ties with Iran.