Russia, China veto UN resolution on Syria

UNITED NATIONS: Russia and China on Saturday vetoed a UN Security Council resolution condemning the Syrian government’s deadly crackdown on protests for the second time. Thirteen countries voted for the resolution proposed by European and Arab nations to give strong backing to the Arab League’s plan to end President Bashar al-Assad’s crackdown. But Russia and China made a repeat of their rare double veto carried out on October 5 on an earlier condemnation.
US ambassador Susan Rice called the block “shameful.” She said the veto showed how Russia and China aimed to “sell out the Syrian people and shield a craven tyrant.” Arab nations also condemned the move. “I would like to express our great regret and disappointment” at the veto, said Morocco’s UN ambassador Mohammed Loulichki, whose country is the Arab member of the 15-member council and played a key role in the drawing up the resolution. Western ambassadors highlighted the concessions made to Russia in weeks of negotiations on the draft text. References to sanctions by the Arab League and calls for Assad to stand down were taken out.  Britain is “appalled,” said its UN envoy Mark Lyall Grant. “It is a sad for this council, a sad day for Syrians, a sad day for the friends of democracy,” said France’s UN ambassador Gerard Araud. “History has now compounded our shame since today is the anniversary of the Hama massacre and the day after another heinous massacre in Homs,” added Araud, referring to a 1982 massacre in the Syrian city of Hama that killed tens of thousands. Assad’s father, Hafez, ruled the country at the time. “Father and son are killing; it would seem to be hereditary in Damascus,” he said. The Security Council has now only agreed one statement, which has a lower standing, on the Syrian crisis since protests erupted in March last year. India and South Africa which abstained in the October vote, backed the latest resolution. Pakistan was also among council members to back the resolution.