Three vetoes of a UN Security Council resolution have left the major powers ready to bury Kofi Annan’s peace plan and let Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and the Syrian opposition fight it out to the death, experts say.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon stoutly insisted on Saturday that he and special envoy Annan were still looking for ways to end a conflict that Syrian activists say has left more than 17,000 dead.
“We continue to push for a peaceful solution,” Ban declared.
Meanwhile, the strife worsens.
Thousands are pouring across Syria’s borders, Damascus is a city at war and the US, the EU and the Syrian opposition now say they will look outside the Security Council for ways to pressure al-Assad.
While the rebel fighters in Syria remain relatively poorly armed, they are increasingly battle-hardened and their morale is being boosted by a growing number of defections from al-Assad’s regime, diplomats say.
However, Russia and China’s third veto of a Security Council resolution on Syria on Thursday was the death knell for joint UN-Arab League envoy Annan’s six-point peace plan, according to many diplomats and experts.
The resolution, drawn up by the UK, sought to threaten sanctions unless al-Assad carried out just one provision — to end the use of heavy weapons. While everyone still professes loyalty to the Annan plan, the blame game over its demise started during the debate.
Chinese Ambassador to the UN Li Baodong (李保東) said unnamed countries had been “negative” about Annan’s efforts since he started in February. Russia accused the Western countries of seeking a “military intervention” in Syria even though the US, the UK and France insist they see no way for a new Libya-style operation.
US Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice said the suggestion was “paranoid.”
Many experts see lingering fallout from last year’s Libya campaign, when Russia and China believe they were tricked into allowing a UN-backed military operation.