West Fails to Condemn Syria

Largely due to Russia, China and Lebanon's efforts, the UN Security Council failed to agree on opposition to Syria’s violence against protestors.

Hillel Fendel , | updated: 6:40 PM

Syrian Day of Rage poster
Syrian Day of Rage poster
Israel news photo: Wikimedia Commons

Largely due to the efforts of Russia, China and Lebanon, the U.N. Security Council has failed to agree on opposition to Syria’s violence against protestors.

More than 300 Syrian anti-government demonstrators have been killed by President Bashar Assad’s government security forces and their supporters since unrest began in Syria in mid-March. So reported Lynn Pascoe, the U.N.’s under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs. Over 100 were killed over the last weekend alone.

The United States and other Western countries had hoped for a condemnation of Syria in the Security Council, but in the end, even a press statement against the violence was not achieved.

"Despite [Assad’s] promise of reform,” Pascoe said, “in fact, the government crackdown has intensified.”

U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice said her government "condemns in the strongest possible terms the abhorrent violence used by the government of Syria against its own people… [We are] considering a range of options" against Syria, including targeted sanctions.

But a Russian representative warned that "a real threat could arise from outside interference" and could lead to "a never-ending cycle of violence; this is an invitation to civil war." Another Russian official said that the situation in Syria, “despite the increase in tension, does not represent a threat to international peace and security.” China agreed with this assertion, and Lebanon was never realistically expected to cast a vote against its patron Syria.

Fateful Uncertainty in Syria
No one is sure whether Assad will weather the storm his government is facing, or will instead end like Egypt’s Mubarak, Yemen’s Saleh, or Tunisia’s Ben-Ali. "The implications [of the events in Syria] are enormous and totally unpredictable," Lebanon-based Middle East analyst Rami Khouri told Reuters. "What makes Syria distinctive is that the regime and the system have close structural links with every conflict or player in the region: Hezbollah, Hamas, Iran, Lebanon, Israel, America, Iraq, Turkey. In all these [cases] there is a Syrian link."

UN Security Council Membership
The UN Security Council numbers 15 members, including five permanent members – the U.S., Britain, Russia, China and France - and ten non-permanent members.  Each year, five countries begin two-year membership terms. The terms of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Gabon, Lebanon and Nigeria will conclude at the end of 2011, and Colombia, Germany, India, Portugal and South Africa will cease being members at the end of 2012.