UN Security Council fails to agree on condemning Syria


A European push for the U.N. Security Council to condemn Syria’s violent crackdown against anti-government protesters collapsed on Wednesday due to resistance from Russia, China and Lebanon, envoys said.

“There will be no statement,” a Security Council diplomat told Reuters on condition of anonymity.

Earlier this week Britain, France, Germany and Portugal circulated to the other 11 council members a draft statement condemning Syria’s violent crackdown against protesters and urging restraint by the government, council diplomats said.

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice, who called the Syrian crackdown that has led to what rights groups say are hundreds of civilian deaths “abhorrent and deplorable,” also supported the push for a Security Council condemnation. She also accused Damascus of seeking help from Iran.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has called for an independent investigation of the killings, though Syria said it was capable of investigating the protesters’ deaths itself.

Permanent veto-wielding council members Russia and China have become increasingly critical of the U.N.-backed intervention to protect civilians in Libya. U.N. diplomats say that Moscow and Beijing worry the intervention aims to oust Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.

“Their tolerance of U.S. and European attempts to protect civilians in the Middle East appears to have dissipated,” a U.N. official told Reuters.

Diplomats said the Lebanese delegation also opposed the idea of condemning Syria. Lebanon, the sole Arab Security Council member, has had a troubled relationship with its neighbor and Syrian influence remains strong there.

Last week the council failed to agree a similar statement condemning Yemen’s crackdown against protesters, who have demanded greater freedoms and called on President Ali Abdullah Saleh to step down.

The demonstrations in Syria and Yemen were inspired by similar ones in Egypt and Tunisia, which led to the ouster of their leaders. Reuters