Russia and China veto U.N. resolution on Syria
Russia and China vetoed today a new U.N. plan for Syria that backed an Arab plan calling on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to quit, stalling global efforts to end his bloody crackdown on unrest after hundreds were reported killed in the city of Homs.
- The high-level diplomatic setback came after world leaders and Syrian opposition activists accused Assad's forces of a massacre in a sustained shelling of Homs, the bloodiest episode in 11 months of upheaval in the pivotal Arab country.
- Russia and China joined in a double veto of a Western- and Arab-driven resolution at the U.N. Security Council endorsing the Arab League plan for Assad to hand power to a deputy to make way for a transition towards democracy.
- The other 13 council members voted for the resolution that would have said the council "fully supports" the League plan aimed at stopping Syria's bloodshed, whose sectarian overtones threaten stability in the wider Middle East region.
- The vote would seem to signal a death knell for the Arab League's peace road map, hammered out during months of negotiation. There is no other pending peace plan.
- That leaves the United States and its allies with few options for halting the bloodshed. The U.S. and Europe have already imposed a variety of economic sanctions on the Assad government. But observers say Assad is convinced his regime can survive the sanctions regimen, despite the country's steep economic downturn since protests began.
- The violence has reached increasingly disturbing levels as more of Assad's opponents take up arms. After reports of the shelling Friday night in Homs, activists called it the bloodiest 24-hour period of an uprising now nearing its one-year anniversary, with one witness saying, "There were corpses everywhere, blown apart from the forces of the explosion." The Syrian government dismissed the shelling reports as a fabrication designed to sway diplomats at the U.N.