|It's hard to imagine what legitimate objection could be made to the
Russian demand, since 1) use of force against a UN member state unless
in immediate self-defense against armed attack or with the explicit
authorization of the UN Security Council is prohibited by the UN
Charter and 2) it is widely claimed that Western countries have no
intention of intervening militarily.
If the UN Charter is real, then the Russian demand just reaffirms
existing international law.
If the US and its friends refuse the Russian demand, then either 1)
they want to keep the option open to intervene militarily, or 2) they
object "in principle" to "setting a precedent" that Western countries
have to obey the UN Charter or 3) they see a Russian veto as a goal,
not an outcome to be avoided.
Russia says will veto "unacceptable" Syria resolution
By Steve Gutterman
MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia signaled on Wednesday it would veto a draft
U.N. resolution calling on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to step
down unless it explicitly ruled out military intervention to halt the
bloodshed touched off by protests against his rule.
Escalating violence in Syria has killed thousands of people and
activists say Assad's forces have stepped up operations this week
against opposition strongholds, from the Damascus suburbs to the
cities of Hama and Homs and the border provinces of Deraa and Idlib.
Arab and Western states urged the U.N. Security Council on Tuesday to
act swiftly on a resolution calling for Assad to delegate powers to
his deputy and defuse the 11-month-old uprising against his family's
But Moscow's envoy to the European Union, Vladimir Chizhov, said there
was no chance the Western-Arab draft text could be accepted unless it
precisely rejected armed intervention.
The draft "is missing the most important thing: a clear clause ruling
out the possibility that the resolution could be used to justify
military intervention in Syrian affairs from outside. For this reason
I see no chance this draft could be adopted," Chizhov said.
Russia and China, both veto-wielding Security Council members, have
resisted a Western push for a resolution condemning the Syrian
government's crackdown on unrest.
British Foreign Secretary William Hague said the resolution could not
be used to authorize military intervention and his French counterpart
Alain Juppe said such an idea was a myth.
But Chizhov's remarks suggested Moscow, a close strategic ally and
important arms supplier to Syria during its 42 years in the grip of
the Assad family, would not accept such assurances.
Russia says the West exploited fuzzy wording in a March 2011 U.N.
Security Council resolution on Libya to turn a mandate to protect
civilians in the North African country's popular uprising into a push
for regime change, backed by NATO air strikes, that led to the
overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi.
Russia has also expressed concern that the draft's threat of "further
measures" against Syria could lead to sanctions, which it opposes. Its
diplomats also want to remove the draft's support for the Arab
League's plan for Assad to cede power.
Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim al-Thani, who has led
the Arab League's efforts to tackle the Syrian crisis, attempted to
allay Moscow and Beijing's objections, saying it was trying to avoid a
Libyan-style foreign role.
"We are not calling for foreign intervention," he said. "We are
advocating the exertion of concrete economic pressure so that the
Syrian regime might realize that it is imperative to meet the demands
of its people."
He told the 15-member Security Council that Syria's "killing machine
is still at work."
Syrian insurgents said Assad's forces extended a military sweep
overnight around Damascus to counter a rebel threat that had reached
the gates of the sprawling capital.
A statement by a local rebel group in Damascus province said more
troops and armor were moving into eastern suburbs and in the
mountainous Qalamoun area north of Damascus, which Assad's forces took
over this week.
There were army snipers in the suburb of Misraba, which has had no
electricity or water for a week. Activists reported shops closed, a
lack of basic supplies and tanks in the streets.
North of Damascus, armored troops controlled the town of Rankous and
began extending their control into farmland surrounding it, bombarding
the village of Telfita overnight, according to opposition activists.
In the Wadi Barada area on the edge of the capital, four people were
killed in a tank bombardment on Wednesday to flush out rebel Free
Syrian Army (FSA) units operating near the capital, activists said.
Syria's state news agency said troops killed 11 members of an "armed
terrorist group" outside the southern city of Deraa, and that
government forces discovered bomb factories and field hospitals in a
raid on armed cells in Irbin and Sabqa, Damascus suburbs where
insurgents had appeared recently.
It was not possible to verify the reports as Syria restricts access
for independent media.
"The Free Syrian Army has withdrawn but will be back," said Fawaz
Tello, a Syrian opposition figure who left for Cairo a few days ago.
"The crackdown will only swell its ranks of professional soldiers
CALL FOR ACTION
Arab League Secretary-General Nabil Elaraby called on the U.N.
Security Council to take "rapid and decisive action" by approving the
"Do not let the Syrian people down in its plight," he said.
The United States strongly endorsed the appeal from the Arab League
and Qatar for "rapid and decisive action," but China reiterated its
"China is firmly opposed to the use of force to solve the Syrian
problem and resolutely opposes pushing for forced regime change in
Syria, as it violates the United Nations Charter and the basic norms
guiding the practice of international relations," Xinhua news agency
quoted Chinese Ambassador to the United Nations Li Baodong as telling
the Security Council.
Syrian U.N. Ambassador Bashar Ja'afari rejected the suggestion his
government was responsible for the crisis and accused Western powers
of dreaming of "the return of colonialism and hegemony" in the Middle
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the policy of isolation
and seeking regime change risked igniting a "much bigger drama" in the
"The people who are obsessed with removing regimes in the region, they
should be really thinking about the broader picture. And I'm afraid
that if this vigor to change regimes persists, we are going to witness
a very bad situation much, much, much broader than just Syria, Libya,
Egypt or any other single country."
(Additional reporting Sui-Lee Wee in Beijing, Khaled Yacoub Oweis in
Amman and Joseph Logan in Beirut; Writing by Dominic Evans; Editing by