UN Syria vote planned, unclear if Russia will veto


The UN Security Council tentatively plans to vote on a European-drafted resolution that threatens Syria with possible punitive steps, but it remains unclear if Russia will veto it, envoys said.

The 15-nation council is scheduled to hold a vote on the draft resolution on Tuesday at 5 p.m. EDT (2100 GMT), council diplomats said on Monday on condition of anonymity.
“It’s not clear what the Russians plan to do,” a Western diplomat told Reuters. “I guess we’ll find out tomorrow.”

Another diplomat suggested that Moscow was under some moral pressure not to stand in the way of a condemnation of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s half-year clampdown on demonstrators against his government that the United Nations says has killed at least 2,700 civilians, Reuters reports.
“I’d hope that six months of protests and no sign of an end to violence against largely peaceful protesters means they won’t block trying an incrementally more proactive approach,” the diplomat said.

The resolution, which was drawn up by France in cooperation with Britain, Germany and Portugal, is a watered-down version of previous drafts that threatened Syria with sanctions if it fails to comply with international demands that it halt its crackdown on pro-democracy protesters.

The latest version calls for possible “measures” against Damascus if it continues military operations against civilians. Previous versions, also seen by Reuters, had explicitly threatened Damascus with “sanctions.”
“It’s still a tough resolution,” a diplomat said. “We all know that ‘measures’ means ‘sanctions.’ If it’s approved, it will send a strong message to Damascus.”

If the draft resolution is put to a vote on Tuesday, as the four European members of the council hope, the United States is expected to support it, envoys said, despite its disappointment about compromises made to win the support of Russia, China, Brazil, India and South Africa — the five “BRICS” nations.

The latest attempt to bridge the wide differences between those five nations on the one hand and the United States and European members of the council on the other comes after months of resistance by the BRICS to any tough U.N. action on Syria.

While all five BRICS had initially resisted the idea of a resolution on Syria, Western diplomats say that Russia and India turned out to be the fiercest opponents during the negotiating process.

The United States did not participate in the drafting process. One diplomat said the U.S. delegation had hoped the council could approve something with “more teeth.”