Politics & Policy

U.N. Fails to Pass Syria Sanctions

They couldn’t even get a press statement condemning the violence, over the strong objections of Russia… Via NYT

An attempt by the United States and its European allies to condemn Syria in the United Nations Security Council was rebuffed on Wednesday, as the willingness to intervene in the region — strong enough to lead to military action against Libya under similar circumstances just weeks ago — appeared to evaporate.

 

Envoys for several wary Council members that had agreed to at least abstain in the vote against Libya, particularly Russia, spoke out against any international intervention on Wednesday, while Lebanon would have found it impossible to support criticism given the influence Syria holds over it. The required unanimity among the 15 members for a press statement was impossible.

“The current situation in Syria, despite the increase in tension, does not represent a threat to international peace and security,” said Alexander Pankin, the Russian deputy permanent representative to the United Nations. Intervening would be “an invitation to civil war,” he said. All council members addressed the body after it became clear that no consensus would emerge.

 

More on the U.N. Security Council meeting here. Syria is resorting to the claim that the protesters are not, as it were, autochthonous, but are motored by foreign elements. Possible sanctions and resolutions were opposed by Russia, China, and Lebanon: 

 

“This unrest and riots in some of their aspects have hidden agendas,” Mr. Jaafari told reporters. “Some armed groups take advantage of the demonstrations; they get within the demonstrators and start shooting on the military men and the security forces. This is why there are many casualties.”

Mr. Jaafari also defended President Bashar Assad’s record, saying that more political reforms were coming on the heels of Mr. Assad’s decision to lift the emergency law.

“President Assad is a reformer himself, and he should be given the chance to fulfill his mission in reforming the political life in the country,” he said.

Government opponents openly mock both assertions. Syrians, not foreign agitators, are demanding basic freedoms that have been denied them for the 40 years in which the Assad family has run the country, they say. Although Mr. Assad, 45, promised reform when he inherited the presidency from his father 11 years ago, he has put none in place — instead, they say, the government has strangled any nascent reform movement by jailing its leaders for years.

But efforts by the Security Council to issue the mildest of statements criticizing Syria was postponed until at least Wednesday afternoon. Several member states — Russia, China and Lebanon — seemed firmly opposed, diplomats said, although the ambassadors of China and Lebanon would only note that further discussion was scheduled.

Most Popular

Liberalism as Faith

The British philosopher John Gray is not someone to shy away from ‘difficult’ topics. If you are looking for a provocative long read this weekend, his new article in the Times Literary Supplement ought to be a contender. I didn’t agree with all of it (for example, I would argue that the supposedly ... Read More
Culture

Our Cultural Crisis: A Kirkian Response

Editors’ note: The following article is adapted from a speech the author delivered at the Heritage Foundation on March 14, 2018. Few would dispute that we are in the middle of a grave cultural crisis. A despairing conservative critic wrote: “We are on the road to cultural disaster.” He placed the ... Read More
Politics & Policy

An Enduring Error

Editor’s Note: The following piece originally appeared in City Journal. It is reprinted here with permission. Fifty-one years ago, in July 1967, in response to an explosion of rioting in poor black urban neighborhoods around the United States, President Lyndon B. Johnson created the National Advisory ... Read More
Culture

The Mournful, Magnificent Sally Mann

‘Does the earth remember?" The infinitely gifted photographer Sally Mann asks this question in the catalogue of her great retrospective at the National Gallery in Washington. On view there is her series of Civil War battlefield landscapes, among the most ravishing works of art from the early 2000s. Once sites ... Read More
U.S.

James Comey’s Inadvertent Admission

The good folks at the Republican National Committee awaken and realize that perhaps former FBI agents make more compelling critics of James Comey than, say, Maxine Waters. Yesterday afternoon brought the first excerpts of James Comey’s new book, A Higher Loyalty, and we were expected to run around in ... Read More