Outrage grew yesterday after Russia and China blocked a UN Security Council resolution condemning Syria for its crackdown on protests, with the opposition saying it handed the regime a “license to kill.”
Saturday’s rare double veto drew swift condemnation from world powers, with Washington saying it was “disgusted.”
Russia blamed Western powers for the Security Council’s failure to pass the resolution, saying they had failed to make an additional effort for consensus.
“The authors of the draft Syria resolution, unfortunately, did not want to undertake an extra effort and come to a consensus,” Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov wrote on Twitter.
Russian UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin justified the veto by saying the proposed resolution “sent an unbalanced signal to the Syrian parties.”
His Chinese counterpart, Li Baodong (李保東), said pushing through such “a vote when parties are still seriously divided ... will not help maintain the unity and authority of the Security Council, or help resolve the issue.”
The failed resolution followed widespread disgust at what the opposition Syrian National Council (SNC) labeled a “massacre” overnight on Friday in the flashpoint city of Homs and a spiraling death toll.
Activists and residents had reported more than 200 civilian deaths, including women and children, during a massive assault by regime forces there.
On the ground, activists yesterday reported another 60 people killed in Syria, adding to the body count of one of the bloodiest weekends since the uprising against the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad erupted almost 11 months ago.
Opposition groups say at least 6,000 people have now been killed in Syria since March last year.
The surge of violence coupled with the second UN double veto in four months triggered a wave of international outrage at the failure to reach a common stand at the UN.
The SNC said in a hard-hitting statement that “Syrians and others around the world” had looked to the Security Council to issue a strongly worded resolution.
“The SNC holds both governments accountable for the escalation of killings and genocide, and considers this irresponsible step a license for the Syrian regime to kill without being held accountable,” it said of Russia and China.
US Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice said Russia and China “remain steadfast in their willingness to sell out the Syrian people and shield a craven tyrant.”
The veto controversy comes ahead of tomorrow’s visit to Damascus by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Russian Foreign Intelligence Service Director Mikhail Fradkov for talks with al-Assad.
While Russia and China used their diplomatic muscle for the second time in four months to block a resolution condemning the violence, the other 13 countries in the 15-member council voted for it.
The resolution had been proposed by European and Arab nations to give strong backing to an Arab League plan to end the crackdown.
Syrian government mouthpiece Tishrin yesterday called the veto “a catalyst that will enable Syria to accelerate reforms, organize a referendum on a new constitution, multiparty elections and the formation of a larger government that includes opposition movements.”
Tunisia yesterday urged other nations to follow its lead after it said on Saturday it was expelling Syria’s ambassador and withdrawing its recognition of the al-Assad government.