News / Middle East

China, Russia Veto UN Resolution on Syria

Margaret Besheer, Larry FreundAl Pessin
Russia and China on Thursday vetoed a U.S.-backed U.N. Security Council resolution that would have imposed non-military sanctions on the Syrian government, putting the future of diplomacy in limbo as fighting continues in Syria.
 
After delaying the vote for a day to try to find common ground, the Security Council's decision comes a day after anti-government rebels bombed a meeting of top Syrian security officials, killing three senior military figures with close ties to President Bashar al-Assad, and as government shelling of neighborhoods in Damascus continued.
 
Thursday's vote was 11-2, with abstentions from Pakistan and South Africa. It was the third time during the Syria crisis that Russia and China have voted against the resolution.
 
Syria's Armed Forces

  • Ground Forces
200,000 - 250,000 ground forces
   4,950  main battle tanks
      590  reconnaissance vehicles
   2,450  armored infantry fighting vehicles
   1,500  armored personnel carriers
   3,440  artillery pieces

  • Air and Naval Forces
 30,000 air force personnel
   5,000 navy personnel
     300 fighter-ground attack planes
       48 intelligence/surveillance planes.
       22 heavy transport planes
       36 attack helicopters
     100 reconnaissance/transport helicopters
The vote threatens the peace mission of U.N. special envoy Kofi Annan and leaves undecided the future of some 300 peacekeepers in Syria, whose mandate is scheduled to end Friday.
 
Britain’s U.N. ambassador Mark Lyall Grant said his country was appalled by Russia and China's decisions to veto the resolution. “The effect of their actions is to protect a brutal regime," he said, describing the resolution as being aimed at bringing an end to the bloodshed in Syria. "They have chosen to put their national interests ahead of the lives of millions of Syrians."
 
Speaking through a translator, Russia's U.N. Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said his country could not agree to a resolution that would have opened the path to external military involvement in Syrian domestic affairs, an opinion challenged by U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice.
 
"Despite paranoid if not disingenuous claims by some to the contrary, it would in no way authorize nor even pave the way for foreign military intervention," said Rice, adding that escalation of what she called the Syrian government’s attacks against its own people is all the more troubling when considering its stockpile of chemical weapons.
 
Kofi Annan, U.N. special envoy for Syria, expressed disappointed over the vote.
 
The Security Council is now considering a resolution that would extend that mandate for a brief period, allowing the observers to make an orderly withdrawal from Syria.
 
The Obama administration said Thursday it will work outside the U.N. process to help resolve the Syria crisis.

  • Smoke rises over the skyline in the Qaboun neighborhood of Damascus, Syria, during shelling by Syrian government forces, July 19, 2012.
  • A burnt car in the al-Midan neighborhood in Damascus, July 20, 2012.
  • A burnt car in the al-Midan neighborhood in Damascus, July 20, 2012.
  • Jordanians and Syrians living in Jordan hold pictures of President Bashar al-Assad and shout slogans against the Syrian Revolution during a demonstration near the Syrian embassy in Amman July 19, 2012.
  • This image made from amateur video released by the Ugarit News and accessed July 18, 2012, purports to show burning tires in Damascus, Syria.
  • This image made from amateur video released by the Shaam News Network and accessed July 18, 2012, purports to show a burning Syrian military tank in Damascus, Syria.
  • An image taken from Syrian television shows Syrian security forces taking position during armed clashes with gunmen in the Al-Midan district of Damascus, July 18, 2012.
  • This image made from amateur video released by the Ugarit News and accessed July 18, 2012, purports to show Free Syrian Army soldiers during clashes with Syrian government forces at Tadamon Police Station in Damascus, Syria.
  • Journalists wait at al-Rawda Square, near a road that leads to the national security building where a bomb killed at least three top aides to President Assad, after access to the area was blocked in Damascus July 18, 2012.
  • Men celebrate in the Lebanese town of Tripoli on July 18, 2012, after an attack in Damascus killed the Syria's defense minister, General Daoud Rajha.
  • General Fahad Jassim al-Freij is seen in this handout released by Syria's national news agency SANA on July 18, 2012. Syria appointed Freij as defense minister, replacing Daoud Rajha, killed in an attack.
  • In this image released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, Fahd Jassem al-Freij, Syria's new defense minister, reads a statement after he was appointed by President Bashar Assad on July 18, 2012.
  • Assef Shawkat, brother-in-law of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who was assassinated in Damascus, stands during the funeral of late president Hafez al-Assad in this June 13, 2000 photo.
Fighting continues

Thursday was one of the deadliest days yet in the Syria conflict.  A human rights monitoring group, the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said more than 250 people were killed in fighting in several parts of the country.
 
Rebel forces claimed to have taken over border crossings with Turkey and Iraq, and to have attacked several government buildings in Damascus.  Thousands of Syrians fled across the border into Lebanon.
 
Syria Conflict Deaths (Click to View)Syria Conflict Deaths (Click to View)
x
Syria Conflict Deaths (Click to View)
Syria Conflict Deaths (Click to View)
With the faltering international diplomacy and continued fighting, analysts say the coming month of Ramadan could be decisive in the struggle for power between the Syrian regime and its opponents.
 
American University in Beirut political science professor Hillal Khashan said the events of the past few days have brought the 16-month-old crisis to a tipping point.
 
“I think Assad's days are numbered," he said. "There are strong indicators that he left Damascus [for] Latakia. And we also know that from the way the Syrian army is deployed in and around Damascus, and the heavy shelling of the city, indicates that Assad's forces regard the city as an enemy city. That is not how to treat your capital.”
 
Latakia is a coastal city where Assad's fellow Alawites have their stronghold. Khashan says if it is true that Assad has fled there, it would be similar to what Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi did just before he was overthrown; he retrenched to his tribal area for protection.
 
Game changer
 
Lebanese American University political science professor Imad Salamey agreed, calling Wednesday's bomb attack a game changer.
 
“I think what happened yesterday is an earthquake," Salamey said. "It is a major blow to the regime's security apparatus. This will boost the morale of the opposition forces and will definitely make a turning point in events."
 
The Muslim holy month of Ramadan, during which the faithful fast from dawn till dusk, likely will begin Friday in much of the Arab world. Salamey said this month could be critical.
 
“I think the coming days, especially this month of holy Ramadan, will be decisive for Syria. I think we will be witnessing a dramatic situation, most probably the security apparatus in Syria will split and deteriorate fast,” he said.
 
In addition to Wednesday's attack on President Assad's top security chiefs, there was the defection earlier this month of a senior army general, Manaf Tlass.
 
Assad loyalty fading
 
Salamey said this indicates Assad is having difficulty maintaining the loyalty of the Sunni leadership within the military. He said he expects more defections, especially in the coming month.
 
“I think Syria after Assad will look more like Iraq after Saddam Hussein," he said. "In Iraq, the Kurds created their autonomous region and I think the Alawites will do the same.”
 
President Assad appeared on state television for the first time since Wednesday's bombing.
 
Analyst Torbjorn Soltvedt of the Maplecroft risk assessment firm in Britain said the bombing might have weakened domestic support for the Assad government.
 
“It's becoming evident that this will have a significant impact on the conflict.  I think first and foremost, this will alarm core members of the regime and you may well see as a result increasing defections among key military and civilian officials as a result.”
 
No defections were reported Thursday.
 
Syria's population is just over 22 million people. The majority is Arab Sunni Muslim, but there are also significant numbers of minorities including Kurds, Armenians, Druze, Christians and the ruling Alawites.
 
Khashan said he thinks in a post-Assad Syria these groups might set up a federal state.
 
“I would not be surprised that after the demise of the regime in Syria we will have a federal order in Syria where each of the country's major ethic and religious groups will establish their own enclaves,” he said.
 
But analyst Salamey sees a different possible scenario. “I think post-Assad Syria will not be an easy transition," he said. "It will be a difficult one. Eventually I do not think it will be a very fragmenting situation as most have been projecting, simply because it is not possible to divide Syria along sectarian lines demographically.” 

Larry Freund reported from U.N. headquarters in New York. Margaret Bresheer reported from Cairo. Al Pessin reported from Beirut. 

You May Like

Video Iran Nuclear Deal Becomes US Campaign Issue

Voters in three crucial battleground states - Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania - overwhelmingly oppose nuclear deal with Iran More

Al-Qaida's Syria Affiliate Reemerges

Jabhat al-Nusra has rebounded, increasingly casting itself as a critical player in battle for Syria’s future More

Lessons Learned From Katrina, 10 Years Later

FEMA chief Craig Fugate says key changes include better preparation, improved coordination among state, federal assistance agencies More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments page of 3
    Next 
by: Anonymous
July 20, 2012 12:14 PM
Maybe because I barely read newspapers or watch TV, I don't actually know about the situation. But to my surprise, when I scanned comments on a famous Chinese website, most people lashed out because of Chinese Gov't. I don't know why, cuz Chinese Gov't said that they made this decision on purpose to protect Syrian people, to maintain peace or something. I am so confused right now...
In Response

by: Anonymous
July 20, 2012 3:04 PM
It's no doubt that you are lying. What I have seen from main media is that the comments from most of average Chinese people support Chinese goverment's decision.

by: Michel Telass from: China
July 20, 2012 6:19 AM
I did not completely agree to Mr. Mark L. Grant's comments: "They have chosen to put their national interests ahead of the lives of millions of Syrians. "Acutally, It is China Communism Party(CCP) who put their top officials' interests over the lives of Syrians. Chinese ordinary people have not interests in Syria. The Chinese ordinary prefer to punish Al-Sad's brutal government.

by: CR from: China
July 20, 2012 5:12 AM
the westen countries is to gradually eat the middle east,and surround Russia and China.these are called their "human rights".

by: Anonymous
July 20, 2012 1:45 AM
Support Russia and China!!!!!!!!!!
Poor other countries, they were forced to choose supporting US because it's only one superpower in the world and has a bunch of permanent Europian followers.

by: Hu Zhiyang from: Inner Mongolia,China
July 19, 2012 9:37 PM
It seems that there are some supporters of China and Russia from western countries on this forum.Or,I'd rather say,some oppositions of western countries' government towards the affair of Syria.
As a Senior high school student in China,I can tell you that not all the Chinese people,especially the young,believe that the Chinese government's attitude towards Syria is right.However,it is the majoy point of view of Chinese people.
In China,the TV news usually blame the present horrible situation in Syria on the oppositions of Syria government and western countries.
There is no doubt that China and Russia government think that human right isn't as important as stabilization and the "legal government" of a country.
But,also I do not think a war will do some help for the human right of Syrian people.
In Response

by: Anonymous
July 31, 2012 12:23 AM
Yoshi, it is very offensive to many Chinese that welcoming a UN intervention for a better government(yes the current government is far for good), it is basically foreigners hijacking local people's hope for better government for their own benefits. Chinese has been subjected to invasion from the west for many years, they want more than a fair society, they want independence from manipulation of the west, dignity as a proud nation with history. It is very condescending to think that there is only one US value, either with us or against us, as the matter arent simply human right but wrestling of powers, otherwise why US care anyway.
In Response

by: Anonymous
July 31, 2012 12:06 AM
For average chinese, they dont know much about Syria nor they care, but they are sick of the arrogance of USA and the west who deem themselves as the world police and render "right" or "wrong" for their own benefits.
In Response

by: Yoshi from: Sappor
July 20, 2012 7:47 AM
Thank you for your rational comments. I agree war will not help protect human rights of not only Syrian people but all global people. When I read the reason China vetoed UN's rosolution this time was that she looked Syrian battles just as domestic matter, I remember Tiananmen Squere Protests. Was that only a Chinese domestic accident? How if at that time, UN had made resolution to impose not-millitary sunctions to Chinese government to help Chinese students' rebels? And how if the U.S. and U.K. vetoed the resolutions as sayng let it be because it is only a Chinese domestic conflict? I can not help suspecting that this times' Chinese veto seems its selfishness in order to surpress Chinese people's demand for democracy and freedom of speech. Could you speek ill of your government in public freely? Don't you want to live in such a country? How do you think can China change into such a democratic country? How do you young Chinese think can win such democratic rights? By revolution withouit either blood nor foreign power is the best way, I think. I hope you young Chinese peiople could accomplish such honorable revolution near future!!
In Response

by: steve from: spain
July 20, 2012 5:36 AM
another example of americas failed foreign policy .in their attempt to destabilise the region no thought is given to how many innocents will die .

by: AJ from: Kandahar, Afghanisatn
July 19, 2012 7:40 PM
Same like always, who else you think should Veto UN resolution? of course Russia despite claiming that they are not any more communist regime still support world communist and anti West governments as well as China.
UN until have China and Russia with Veto right it's useless.
I hope after fall down of Assad regime Syrian people take their retaliation from China & Russia, most of Afghan normal people are sad about all the crimes that Assad do agents his own people.
Thanks VOA to give us chance for comments.
AJ Afghanistan

by: Anonymous
July 19, 2012 6:04 PM
Who is the next? Saudi Arabia? Barain? or Yemen? There are so many dictatorial countries in Middle East. It's not hard for US to create some "rebels" in those country, and then everything will be same.....
In Response

by: Dave
July 19, 2012 7:27 PM
You are kidding right? What rock have been under? The Yemen dictatorship of Saleh has been gone since February

by: Anonymous
July 19, 2012 5:54 PM
Poor Syria! US and its followers helped create "rebel" and then supported them all the time to against their government, and then killing each other started, and then US and its followers started to condemn ... and then ....
In Response

by: Anonymous
July 20, 2012 11:38 AM
Are you kidding? You really don't know western countries control the media of the whole world and always pick up or create news that benefits to themselves? Or you just pretend that you don't know.
In Response

by: Anonymous
July 19, 2012 8:30 PM
Are you kidding me? Don't you read the news? Assad killed lots of innocent people, the FSA stepped in to disable Assad and make their country comfortable and peacefull.

by: Christo Nwagwu from: Manitoba
July 19, 2012 5:51 PM
Let's spin this the other way , what will supporters of the Syrian rebel army say if the act of brutality is meted by government army to the rebel leadership ?He re it is called victory the Western colution way , it is an act of brutality the other way ?This is the kind of justice that is making the planet less free and riddled with contradictions . Only the dumb will give credibi.lity to act of brutality of this nature , it makes it more difficult to have world free from dishonesty and continuos conflict .

by: Eason from: New York, NY
July 19, 2012 5:15 PM
Sounds like, hey it's Russia and China's fault again. But let's look at what US did on Iraq and Afghanistan and Pakistan, they directly send troops there to massacre civilians. Does China have troops in Syria? I don't think so!
In Response

by: Anonymous
July 22, 2012 9:27 AM
Everything different nations did is based on their national interests. Russia sold their weapons to Assad. U.S. messed the middle east by what they called democracy. What U.S. aimed is to tightly control the middle east. Did Egyptian get the democracy they expected and make their lives better than before???
Comments page of 3
    Next 

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs