A United Nations resolution condemning Syrian government’s ongoing violent crackdown of anti-government protests failed to pass a Security Council vote Tuesday night, prompting outrage from the U.S. and European countries.
The resolution threatened “unspecified measures” against the regime after 30 days if the government failed to end the violence, hinting at the possibility of economic and diplomatic sanctions. It also called for states to “exercise vigilance and restraint” in supplying arms to Syria. China and Russia both vetoed the resolution, while nine countries voted in favor. Four countries – South Africa, India, Brazil and Lebanon – abstained.
Russia argued that the implication of sanctions in the resolution might be used to justify military intervention in the country, noting that the Security Council’s previous resolution to enact a “no-fly zone” over Libya resulted in NATO’s sustained campaign of air strikes against Gadhafi’s forces. Vitaly Churkin, the Russian ambassador to the U.N., stated that the resolution against Syria “could have provoked full-scale civil war” with the potential to be “destructive in the whole Middle East.”
Had it passed, the measure would have been the first legally binding resolution against the Syrian regime, led by President Bashar Al-Assad, since it began violently cracking down on protesters in March, leading to an estimated 2,700 deaths. Following the vote, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N., Susan Rice, said that “the United States is outraged that this council has utterly failed to address an urgent moral challenge and a growing threat to regional peace and security.”
Within Syria, the vote stoked the ire of anti-government activists as well. A video released shortly after the vote shows a Damascus fountain stained red to symbolize “the blood of martyrs.” Meanwhile, reports of violence in the country continue to emerge.
Despite the U.N.’s failure to pass the resolution, Rice has declared that the U.S. will continue to press on for U.N. action on Syria. Turkey has also stated that it plans to move forward with sanctions against Syria, in addition to its existing arms embargo on the country.