Friends in low places: the Syria veto and its consequences

Please be aware that the video content in this post contains scenes of graphic violence which some users may find distressing.

It has been a bloody weekend in Homs. Footage has been coming in thick and fast all day today, showing the shelling bombardment of parts of Homs thought to be under the control of opposition groups.

Reports of the shelling of a field hospital, and scores of injured and dead have filled the airwaves. Today, Amnesty has been struggling to get through to people on the ground in  Homs, which is further testament to the scale of the isolation there.

Isolation and abandonment. The decision, at the start of the weekend, that Russia and China would exercise their power of veto was the green light for this latest onslaught. Even a UN security resolution which we had already criticised for being too weak, proved more than Russia or China could stomach. They stood in the way of the Security Council’s attempt to show a united international front of condemnation. In so doing, they gave Assad the nod. Worse still, see this shameful profiteering aspect to Russia’s involvement. Not only are they letting Syrian troops advance on civilian neighbourhoods, they have sent them the kit.

It is a deeply depressing time. Because of the pseudo-blackout in Homs, it is feared we will not know the full scale of the horror unfolding there for some time. Save for some brave journalists who are embedded with the locals. The BBC's Paul Wood said today that mortars were landing every 30 seconds from 6am and troops were reportedly massing on the outskirts of the city

Speaking of a “doomed” and a “murdering” regime, Hague told the House that he had recalled the British Ambassador to Syria. He said that China and Russia would have blood on their hands for the ensuing bloodshed. The US, likewise, closed their embassy there this afternoon.

Yet that must be cold comfort indeed for those entrapped in pockets of Homs tonight, with nowhere to run to. China and Russia have betrayed them with this veto and that is unlikely to be forgotten. Just when he was starting to look isolated, it turns out Assad still has some high-powered friends in low places and for now they’re sticking to his guns.

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mikeparsons10 7 years ago

The plight of the Syrian citizens is particularly distressing and the UN should be doing everything in their power to help as soon as possible. Wider issues need to be looked at after the above and that is the veto system within the UN itself.

Although comments from the US and the UK govts are commendable both of these have used the veto in the past with regards to Israel and apartheid South Africa. Clearly this recent debacle has shown that the system is not fit for purpose and reform is needed ?

One possible way would be to speed up the process of reaching a consensus. If the country/countries have vetoed on one issue then the resolution could be placed back to the Security council with this change and hopefully passed. If the country/countries come up with some other objection then clearly there is something else going on here than the issues involved and the resolution should go through with the change. That way resolutions would pass quickly and can then be acted upon, cutting down the stasis period which is now happening with the issue of Syria.

Another possibility would be to open the Security Council to wider numbers. True democrats would say all members of the UN but due to power politics this would seem to be just utopian, although could be more preferable to the present small "high table" of vetoers and large "lower table" of non vetoers.

Daveyboy 7 years ago