Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Russia Defends Top Mideast Ally in Veto of UN Vote on Syria

Oct. 5 (Bloomberg) -- Russia, which sells weapons to Syria and maintains a naval base there, joined China in vetoing a European-drafted United Nations resolution that sought to stop the Syrian regime's deadly seven-month crackdown against dissenters.

Both countries, two of five veto-wielding members in the Security Council, blocked the measure that had the support of nine nations in the 15-member body. Lebanon and the so-called IBSA countries -- India, Brazil and South Africa -- abstained.

The dual block is a slap at U.S. and European diplomacy, after the draft resolution underwent many changes until the last minute in an effort to persuade Russia, which counts Syria as its top ally in the Middle East, to abstain from the vote. Human Rights Watch yesterday called the outcome "a disgrace."

"The U.S. is outraged that this council has utterly failed to address an urgent moral challenge and a growing threat to regional peace and security," U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice said after the vote in the council chamber. Russian parallels with Libya were also a "cheap ruse by those who would rather sell arms to the Syrian regime than stand with the Syrian people."

Rice walked out of the chamber after Syrian Ambassador Ja'afari Bashar Ja'afarisaid, who was also present, accused the U.S. of "partaking in genocide" by supporting Israel at the UN.

'Slap in the Face'

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