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'A cheap ruse': US slams Russia and China for vetoing UN resolution on Syria

Russia and China's vetoes of a UN resolution against Syria's regime illustrate a stark divide on the role the international community should play in the Arab Spring.

By Staff writer / October 5, 2011

Demonstrators protesting against Syria's President Bashar al-Assad march through the streets in Homs on Tuesday. The signs read: 'No dialogue with tank' (l.) and 'Russia, your interests are with the people, not with Assad.'

Reuters

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China and Russia on Tuesday vetoed a UN Security Council resolution targeting Syria, despite efforts by the US and Europe to ensure its passage by significantly watering down the resolution's language. The veto is the strongest signal yet of the stark divide among council members over how much of a role the international community should play amid the Arab world's upheaval.

“The US is outraged that this council has utterly failed to address an urgent moral challenge and a growing threat to regional peace and security,” said the American ambassador to the UN, Susan Rice. "Today the courageous people of Syria can now see who on this council supports their yearning for liberty and universal human rights and who does not."

The resolution had initially included sanctions and an arms embargo, but the final version put before the Security Council merely threatened "other options" if Syria did not comply with demands to end the use of violence against civilians and release political prisoners, the Washington Post reports.

Russian UN envoy Vitaly Churkin and Chinese UN ambassador Li Baodong said their countries were concerned the resolution would make the situation in Syria worse and be used as a pretext for regime change, the Post reports.

A history of vetoing sanctions

China and Russia have not issued a double veto since July 2008, when they nixed sanctions against Zimbabwe. In January 2007, they vetoed a resolution against the Burmese regime, according to the Associated Press.

The council has been split on Syria since the country's uprising began in March. Russia and China – backed by nonpermanent council members Brazil, India, and South Africa – have consistently blocked assertive US and European action on Syria. The first council action on Syria didn't come until August, and even then it was merely a statement condemning the regime for violence, the AP reports.

When that passed, the US and Europe immediately began pushing for the resolution with an arms embargo and sanctions. But Russia, which has repeatedly criticized the West for overstepping the UN resolution that authorized military intervention in Libya, has balked.

“The situation in Syria cannot be considered in the council apart from the Libyan experience,” said Mr. Churkin, according to Bloomberg.

'A cheap ruse'

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