The defeat leaves in limbo the future of the 300-strong U.N. observer mission in Syria, which was forced to suspend operations because of the intensified fighting. Its mandate, to monitor a cease-fire and implementation of special envoy Kofi Annan’s peace plan, expires Friday.
British U.N. Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant, who sponsored the Western-backed draft, said he was “appalled” at the third double veto of a resolution aimed at bringing an end to the bloodshed in Syria and creating conditions for political talks. The resolution threatened sanctions if the Syrian regime didn’t quickly stop using heavy weapons.
“The consequence of their decision is obvious,” he said. “Further bloodshed, and the likelihood of descent into all-out civil war.” Activists say more than 17,000 people have been killed since the uprising began in March 2011, most of them civilians.
“The consequence of today’s action is the situation will continue to deteriorate,” U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice told reporters.
“We simply cannot accept a document under Chapter 7, one which would open the path for the pressure of sanctions and further to external military involvement in Syrian domestic affairs,” he said.
The latest veto was a blow to Mr. Annan, the joint U.N.-Arab League envoy to Syria, who had called for “consequences” for non-compliance with his six-point peace plan, which has been flouted by the Assad government.
The vote on the resolution was originally scheduled for Wednesday, but Mr. Annan, a former U.N. secretary-general, requested a delay and appealed to the council to unite behind a new resolution. Moscow wouldn’t budge, and the West insisted on including the threat of non-military sanctions under Chapter 7 of the U.N. Charter. That could eventually open the door to the use of military force.
Wednesday’s delay was announced shortly after the deadly bombing of a high-level security meeting in Damascus that has made Mr. Assad’s hold on power look increasingly tenuous. His whereabouts have been a mystery since the attack, though Syrian state TV said Mr. Assad attended the swearing-in of his new defense minister Thursday.
A frustrated, angry Mr. Lyall Grant said the attacks in Damascus over the past 48 hours “demonstrate the need for urgent and decisive action by the Security Council to stop the downward spiral into chaos which will claim many more innocent lives and affect the stability of the region.”
Mr. Annan’s spokesman, Ahmad Fawzi, said the envoy “is disappointed that at this critical stage the U.N. Security Council could not unite and take the strong and concerted action he had urged and hoped for.”
Mr. Churkin told the council he would not put Moscow’s rival draft resolution to a vote to avoid continuing confrontation in the Security Council. Moscow’s proposal calls for the “immediate implementation” of Mr. Annan’s plan and guidelines for a political transition approved at a meeting in Geneva last month and would have extended the observer mission for 90 days, but it made no mention of sanctions.
Instead, Mr. Churkin proposed that council members adopt “a brief depoliticized resolution” extending the mission of the unarmed observers for a limited time to preserve its “useful potential.”
By Rand Paul
Obama acts as though we no longer have a Constitution
Independent voices from the TWT Communities
News and reviews of notable museums, and exhibits, and art events.
Nobody likes to talk about dying quite as much as life insurance expert Liran Hirshkorn.
The stories of damaged Mac Books that had liquid spilled on them and how they were brought back to life by the Mac Experts at LiquidSpill.com
Viewing and reviewing the Los Angeles experimental and classic punk scene with a nod to Rodney's English Disco
Benghazi: The anatomy of a scandal
Vietnam Memorial adds four names
Cinco de Mayo on the Mall
NRA kicks off annual convention
California wildfires wreak havoc