If Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has her way, the failure of the UN Security Council vote to oust Syrian President Bashar al-Assad through diplomacy, with minimal sanctions and without military intervention, ironically will result in a strengthened and forceful attempt to remove the Syrian regime. It is alleged that the al-Assad family has shown no mercy to the Syrian people, who struggle for freedom and for a fair and just government.
At the Security Council assembly, Secretary Clinton and others stated repeatedly that the matter was well examined by the League of Arab States, and that it was the decisions of the Arab League that were being voted on. The Arab League has the jurisdiction, and if the vote had passed, the UN Security Council would have given the League its full support.
The vote for the diplomatic ouster of al-Assad, and for a return to barracks by the Syrian Army had the support of most members of the Security Council, but was vetoed by both Russia and China, who stated that interference by un-involved nations was fundamentally inconsistent with their national policies, and in any case, more should be required of the Free Syrian forces. The fact that the revolutionary army, the Free Syrian army, as the freedom seekers call it, is armed, may have made the difference. Russia and China insist that the Free Syrian army as well as the regime Syrian army must be obligated to throw down their arms.
The Syrian ambassador at the UN Security Council, Bashar al-Jaafari, affirmed that Syria is a victim of a crisis triggered by parties who do not want good for Syria. He pled for more time to end the struggle and for the Syrian government to address the issues. He called on his friends in the Arab community to support that plan. At one point, the ambassador suggested that this was yet another case of foreigners interfering, looking to sell arms for profit.
In the wake of the failed vote, Clinton is supporting formation of a “friends of democratic Syria” group to impose sanctions and cut off funding of arms shipments to the al-Assad regime, as well as sending humanitarian aid to those suffering a lack of basic medical care and supplies. The Syrians have proven for eleven months that they seek freedom from brutality.
Secretary Clinton said that the failed vote will result in increased brutality, and those fears have already been substantiated. The Syrian regime in Damascus has vowed to increase devastation to annihilate the freedom seekers; to press on with the offensive. Free Syrian leader Colonial Riad al-Assad meanwhile sees the removal of President Assad by force as the only course left.
The Persian Gulf nations allied with the West are eager to deliver a setback to Iran by helping topple the al-Assad regime, analysts say.
China took the position that the goal of Beijing was to see the Syrian people “escape violence, conflict and flames of war…Not to make the problem even more complicated.” China said that the vote on their part against the resolution was neither a playing of favorites, nor a deliberate opposition to anyone. Rather, they felt that the council was at fault for not going far enough in seeking compromise. In Beijing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Weimin said, “Unfortunately, the countries that proposed the resolution forced a vote despite the serious differences among various sides, and this approach was not conducive to the unity and authority of the Security Council and is not conducive to the appropriate resolution of the problem. Therefore, China voted against the draft resolution.”
In March of last year China abstained from a Security Council vote that authorized military intervention in Libya. An editorial in todays People’s Daily said that Libya offers, “A negative case study. NATO abused the Security Council resolution about establishing a no-fly zone, and directly provided firepower assistance to one side.” The editorial continues, “The calamities of Iraq and Afghanistan should be ample to wipe clear the world’s eyes. [Such interventions for] forceful prevention of a humanitarian disaster [in the end are] sound, filled with a sense of justice and responsibility.”
Sponsors of the resolution for political transition in Syria worked for many hours behind closed doors in an effort to bring Russia to agreement on the resolution. On Thursday they dropped a specific reference that called for Bashar al-Assad’s ceding of power, but Russia was not yet satisfied. The Interfax news agency quoted Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov as saying that the revised draft was, “Not enough for us to be able to support it in this form.” Russia has warned against meddling in the internal affairs of Syria out of its concerns that the draft resolution may be seen as promoting “regime change.”
The government of Turkey is concerned that those fleeing the violence in Syria may seek refugee status in Turkey. This could be harmful to Turkey; a threat to Turkish national security. Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc said the Turkish government could not stand idly by as violence increases, adding, “There is too much strategically at stake in Syria.”
Some analysts have said the Free Syrian Army is less an army than a collection of local fighting groups. They are being armed from inside Syria, or by surrounding countries, including Jordan, Turkey, Lebanon and Iraq. With the informality of the Free Syrian Army, it is difficult to determine who specifically should receive support in the form of arms. A rise in arms shipments could do harm, and add to the unpredictability of the revolution.
Jose Luis Diaz, Amnesty International’s UN representative, notes that Russia is the Syrian government’s largest overseas arms supplier and reportedly has continued arms shipments to the country in recent weeks.Powered by Sidelines