Germany, as a member of the UN Security Council, brought the issue of the bloody repression in Syria before that body seeking a clear condemnation. This may have been German expiation for breaking ranks with its NATO allies over Libya. However, the Council, meeting in a closed-door session, is not expected to issue so much as a verbal condemnation.
Action against Syria is facing a BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) wall in the Security Council. These countries claim that a condemnation will be the beginning of a slippery slope leading to military intervention as occurred in Libya. The South African government is also incensed that the NATO countries involved in Libya brushed off African Union mediation efforts led by South African President Jacob Zuma.
The Russian Foreign Ministry did manage to express "serious concern" after one of the most brutal days of the repression and called on both government and opposition "to demonstrate the utmost restraint and renounce provocations and repressions." The Russian Foreign Ministry called upon all parties in Syria to initiate a "responsible and substantial all-encompassing dialogue."
This is a cosmetic change and will not deter the Assad regime from continuing with its grisly work. While Russia and the other opponents of a UN resolution condemning the Assad regime are hostile to humanitarian intervention in the affairs of other countries, the Russians also still regard the Assad regime as a traditional ally. Russia has kept up the sale of arms to Syria even after the demonstrations and repression began.
The warm feeling towards Syria in Russia is particularly sustained by Soviet era security bureaucrats such as Leonid Ivashov, Vice President of the Russian Academy on Geopolitical Affairs and formerly a commander of the Soviet armed forces and a Defense Ministry official. He told the official Syrian news agency that the disturbances in Syria were part of a wide scale campaign carried out by Israel's Mossad and Western countries such as the United States and France. These countries wanted to fragment Syria " due to its independent policy, support for resistance against Israel and establishing strong relations with Iran."
Ivashov is a believer in the clash of civilizations, pitting Russia against the Atlantic world led by the United States. He also claims that 9/11 was a set up and the war on terror is a front for American imperialism. While his views are not necessarily endorsed by official Russia, they are representative of a tendency that commands many adherents.
The ironic fact is that opponents of a resolution condemning Syria have little to fear from intervention. There is no appetite in NATO for another military intervention and no resources to back it up. Additionally, Syria is not like isolated Libya and a conflict there could escalate to involve Lebanon and Iran.
British Foreign Secretary William Hague, speaking on Radio 4's Today program dismissed the option of military intervention: "It's not even a remote possibility. Even if we were in favour [of UN backed military action], which were are not because there's no call from the Arab League for intervention as in the case of Libya, there is no prospect of a legal, morally sanctioned military intervention."
It looks as though action against the Assad regime will remain verbal and symbolic.