China and Russia vetoed a U.N. Security Council resolution, proposed by the United States and several European nations, that would have condemned Syria and the government of President Bashar al-Assad for its crackdown on protesters. The United States, France and Britain had been pushing a resolution to “cease the use of force against civilians,” or face sanctions. Syria’s ambassador to the United Nations praised China and Russia’s move as being from “voices of the wise.”
According to the Washington Post’s Colum Lynch, “The vote triggered an angry reaction from Susan E. Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, who walked out of the Security Council meeting in protest during the Syrian envoy’s statement, in which he accused the United States of being a “party to genocide” through its support of Israel on the council. The British envoy, Mark Lyall Grant, walked out some time after Rice.”
(Watch video of Rice’s remarks.)
Russia’s U.N. ambassador cast the veto as an objection to “the philosophy of confrontation” in the draft. China’s ambassador said it would amount to “interference in [Syria’s] internal affairs.”
Protests — and the violent response to them — have been escalating in Syria over the last six months. The United Nations estimates at least 2,700 people have died during that time frame.
(View a gallery of the protests in Syria).
Neighboring Turkey, which has received a flood of refugees across its border, and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, once an ally to Assad, has become one of the most vocal critics of the regime’s crackdown and said that despite the Security Council veto, Turkey would proceed with sanctions and conduct military exercises along the shared border. Turkey has already put an arms embargo in place.
Earlier this week the NewsHour’s Ray Suarez spoke with NPR’s Deborah Amos, who covered a five-day battle in Rastan and crackdowns in other cities from Beirut:
“The Syrian government says that the people in Rastan are armed terrorist groups. That has been the government line all along about who is out on the streets. And so, to take back the town, it would be a normal government policy to arrest that many people. Now, the pictures that SANA, which is the official Syrian news agency ran, make it seem like it was very horrific in Rastan.
“There’s not been a whole lot of information coming out because most of the communications were cut there. But Syrian newspapers today did run the pictures, and also that they were bringing in people to clean up the town. I think that the violence is now going to shift to a town that is very close to Rastan.
“And that is Homs. That is another town where we have seen — it’s become a hub for defectors. In fact, three or four neighborhoods have closed themselves off in Homs and also has done the standout — standoff against the military. I think al-Rastan was first. Homs may be second.”
Photo of Bashar al-Assad by Getty Images, Photo of Syrian refugees by Mustafa Ozer/AFP/Getty Images.