Commentary | February 09, 2012

International Voices on Syria: A Roundup

Governments and organizations have spoken out about the violence in Syria and the U.N. Security Council process that ended Feb. 4 with Russia and China exercising their veto rights on a resolution to work with the Arab League. Here are a few of the diverse views expressed this week.

Russia and China Defend Their Vetoes

Russia

“[F]rom the very beginning of the Syrian crisis some influential members of the international community, including some sitting at this table, have undermined any possibility of a political settlement, calling for regime change, encouraging the opposition towards power, indulging in provocation and nurturing the armed struggle.” –U.N. Ambassador Vitaly Churkin, at the U.N. Security Council, Feb. 4.

 "A cult of violence has been coming to the fore in international affairs ... This cannot fail to cause concern…We of course condemn all violence regardless of its source, but one cannot act like an elephant in a china shop…Help them, advise them, limit, for instance, their ability to use weapons but not interfere under any circumstances." –Prime Minsiter Vladimir Putin,  Feb. 8.

For EWI's take on Russia's veto, click here.

China

“The international community should provide constructive assistance to help achieve these goals. At the same time, the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Syria should be fully respected. … To put through a vote when parties are still seriously divided over the issue does not help maintain the unity and authority of the Security Council nor help to properly resolve the issue. In this context, China voted against the draft resolution.” –U.N. Ambassador Li Baodong, UNSC, Feb. 4.

“We will always safeguard the fundamental and long-term interests of the Syrian people…China's voting position in the Security Council is based on the U.N. Charter and principles, China's longstanding foreign policy and also to safeguard the country's fundamental and long-term interests. … We will make unremitting efforts for the peaceful resolution of the Syrian crisis." –Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Weimin, Feb. 8.

Other States Express Outrage

United States

“The United States is disgusted that a couple of members of this Council continue to prevent us from fulfilling our sole purpose here, which is to address an ever-deepening crisis in Syria and a growing threat to regional peace and security. … That intransigence is even more shameful when we consider that at least one of those members continues to deliver weapons to Al-Assad.” –U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice, UNSC, Feb. 4

France

“We cannot and must not overlook the harrowing conclusion that two permanent members of the Council have systematically obstructed all its action. They do so in the full knowledge of the tragic consequences of their decisions for the Syrian people. And in so doing, they are making themselves complicit in the policy of repression being implemented by the Damascus regime. Whatever they may claim, they have de facto taken the side of the Al-Assad regime against the Syrian people.” –U.N. Ambassador Gérard Araud, UNSC, Feb. 4.

United Kingdom

“The United Kingdom is appalled by the decision of Russia and China to veto an otherwise consensus resolution, submitted by Morocco, the United Kingdom, the United States, France, Germany, Portugal, Colombia, Togo, Libya, Bahrain, Jordan, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Tunisia, Oman and Turkey.” –U.N. Ambassador Sir Mark Lyall Grant, UNSC, Feb. 4.

Security Council Members Weigh In

South Africa

“Any solution must preserve the unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Syria. We are also satisfied that the final draft resolution (S/2012/77) was not aimed at imposing regime change on Syria, which would be against the purposes and principles of the United Nations Charter.” –U.N. Ambassador Baso Sangqu, UNSC, Feb. 4.

Pakistan

“Pakistan had some serious concerns, mainly against killings, the massacre of innocents. But also, on a point of principle of the Charter, we were not happy about any infringement on the sovereignty or integrity of Syria. …  It is easy for those of us who today voted in the majority to sit back and say, ‘Well, we have done our bit.’ No, we have not. We cannot wash our hands of this. We must continue and seek — as the Russians and the Chinese have stated that they will continue to seek — the way forward. I believe that the best vehicle is the Arab League plan and the very substantial moves that have been accepted over the last few days. I believe that the offer of no regime change, of plurality, and the promotion of democracy are important aspects of this situation.” –U.N. Ambassador Hussain Haroon, UNSC, Feb. 4.

Germany

“In short, the people of Syria and the region have been let down again, and that is a crying shame — even more so in the light of the recent massacres in Homs; even more so in the light of one the bloodiest days of the Arab Spring; and even more so on the tragic thirtieth anniversary of the Hama massacre. And that is the real scandal.” –U.N. Ambassador Peter Wittig, UNSC, Feb. 4.

India

“Our support for today’s draft resolution is in accordance with our support for the efforts of the Arab League for a peaceful resolution of the crisis through a Syrian-led inclusive political process. We note that the  draft resolution expressly rules out any measures under Article 42 of the Charter and calls for a serious  political dialogue between the Syrian Government and  the whole spectrum of the opposition under the auspices of the League of Arab States.” –U.N. Ambassador Hardeep Singh Puri, UNSC, Feb. 4.

Multilateral Organizations

Arab League

"There was no need for the veto, We were about to reach a conclusion on the resolution that would have been supported by everyone. The [Syrian] government, definitely, may have interpreted this as the international community unable to do anything and [so] we can do whatever we want." "If we are going to send another mission, and we are contemplating that, it has to be stronger in numbers and in equipment. The mandate has to be different…The real problem here is you cannot force your way in. You have to do this in agreement with the authorities in Syria. The authorities in Syria by now realize they have a serious problem and cannot go on with the way they are."  –Arab League Secretary General Nabil el-Araby, Feb. 6.

Gulf Cooperation Council

“It is necessary for the Arab states … to take every decisive measure faced with this dangerous escalation against the Syrian people. … Nearly a year into the crisis, there is no glint of hope in a solution.” –Official Statement, Feb. 8.

Key Regional States Express Concern

Turkey

"We are going to start a new initiative with those countries that stand by the people, not the Syrian government. We are preparing this. … The process that occurred at the United Nations in relation to Syria is a fiasco for the civilized world. … The U.N. Security Council has once again held captive the conscience of the international community. Possessing the power to veto is a great responsibility. Using this power gives a green light for the persecution to continue" –Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Feb. 7.

Iran

"If any vacuum happens suddenly in Syria, nobody can anticipate the outcomes ... the consequences could be even worse because there may be internal wars, internal clashes between people.” "We have to avoid the worst and give enough chance to the government of Syria to carry on with its reforms. … We cannot deny that some people in Syria, a portion of people in Syria are looking for their legitimate rights just like any other people in any other country … but we also cannot deny the outside interferences in Syria." –Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi, Jan. 29.