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      Security Council to Vote on Resolution on Syria

      European nations calling for a vote on a UN resolution that would consider sanctions against Syria. Russia may veto or abstain.
      By Elad Benari
      First Publish: 10/4/2011, 5:11 PM

      European nations are calling for a vote on a UN resolution that would consider sanctions against Syria if President Bashar Assad’s government does not immediately halt its military crackdown against civilians.

      Diplomats told The Associated Press on Monday that it was unclear whether Russia, which opposes even mentioning the possibility of sanctions against Assad’s regime, will veto or abstain on the resolution.

      They added that the vote on the resolution is likely to take place late Tuesday afternoon.

      If approved, it would be the first resolution against Syria adopted by the Security Council since Assad’s military began its crackdown against protesters in mid-March.

      In August, the UN Security Council condemned the Syrian government for its deadly crackdown, saying in a statement it “condemns the widespread violations of human rights and the use of force against civilians by the Syrian authorities.

      However, the Security Council has not been able to adopt a resolution calling for sanctions against Syria due to the fact that Russia, China, India, South Africa and Brazil are opposed, partly because of fear that the resolution might be used as a pretext for armed intervention against Syria, similar to the one in Libya.

      Both the United States and the European Union have already imposed sanctions on Syria, with the U.S. having expanded its sanctions on Monday.

      Last week, European nations decided not to pursue immediate tough sanctions against Syria in the United Nations due to a threat from Russia and China to veto the motion. Instead, they expressed “determination” to review within 30 days Syria’s compliance with the resolution’s demands which include immediately ending all violence, allowing fundamental rights and freedoms including free expression and peaceful assembly, lifting all media restrictions and allowing unhindered access for human rights investigators.

      If Syria would not comply, the draft expressed the council’s determination “to consider the adoption of targeted measures, including sanctions.”

      But Russia rejected this text as well, AP reported, causing the Europeans to come back with a new text that watered down the sanctions language further.

      The current draft, which is expected to be put to a vote, drops the words “including sanctions” but leaves the term “targeted measures” which can include sanctions.

      The draft also “strongly condemns the continued grave and systematic human rights violations by the Syrian authorities, such as arbitrary executions, excessive use of force and the killing and persecution of protesters and human rights defenders, arbitrary detention, enforced disappearances, torture and ill-treatment of detainees, also of children.”

      It calls for the release of all political prisoners and peaceful demonstrators and demands that Syrian authorities immediately stop violating human rights and stop using force against civilians.

      The draft expresses deep concern at the deteriorating situation in Syria and the potential for a further escalation of violence and calls for “an inclusive Syrian-led political process conducted in an environment free from violence, fear, intimidation, and extremism.”