Stalemate at UN on resolution urging Assad to go

 

Washington

A defiant Russia resisted intense pressure from the West and several Arab countries yesterday for a strong United Nations resolution demanding President Bashar al-Assad steps aside to end the political violence in Syria and speed a transition to democracy.

The Foreign Secretary, William Hague, the US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, Alain Juppé, the French Foreign Minister and several Arab ministers were in New York for a Security Council meeting as fighting between government troops and regime opponents worsened.

However, as negotiations on the final text continued, there was no sign that Moscow, Syria's most important ally, would consent to any wording that called on Mr Assad to go or that authorised military action.

The draft resolution, which stipulates the Council discusses "further measures" if the Syrian leader does not comply within 15 days, was "a path to civil war", Gennady Gatilov, the Russian Deputy Foreign Minister, said.

At least 10 of the 15 Security Council members were supportive of demanding President Assad's departure, with China, India, Pakistan and South Africa broadly opposed. But, diplomats said, the critical country was Russia, which has made clear it would veto any resolution it believed went too far.

Moscow's stubbornness reflects the determination of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin to reassert Russia's role on the global stage, after it allowed last March's UN resolution authorising the US and its allies to impose a no-fly zone over Libya, ultimately enabling the overthrow of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi.

Some countries were "obsessed" by regime change in the Middle East, Sergei Lavrov, Russia's Foreign Minister, said. He warned that "we are going to witness a very bad situation, much, much broader than just Syria, Libya or Egypt or any other single country" if that persisted.

The best hopes of a Security Council deal that would avoid a Russian veto lie with the plan drawn up by the Arab League, which froze its monitoring mission in Syria at the weekend because of the continuing violence.

Yesterday, Nabil al-Arab, the Arab League's chief, and Hamad bin Jassim al-Thani, the Prime Minister of Qatar, briefed the Council on the proposals, which call for President Assad to hand power to his vice-president, and the formation of a national unity government to prepare democratic elections. "This is not the West telling Syria what to do," Mr Hague said. "This is the Arab world calling on the UN Security Council to help address the crisis in Syria."

As diplomats wrangled in New York, President Assad's forces seemed to be making some progress on the ground, regaining control of some Damascus suburbs after three days of fighting. But fierce clashes continued in other Syrian cities. More than 100 people, including 40 civilians, were killed on Monday, and at least 20 more yesterday, Syrian activists claimed. According to the UN, more than 5,000 people have died in 10 months of unrest.

Russian ally: Why Moscow cares

Military ties: The Syrian port of Tartus is home to Russia's only military base outside the former USSR, servicing navy ships. Russia's arms contracts with Syria total $4bn, including a $550m deal to sell fighter jets signed last month.

Energy: The Russian engineering company Stroytransgaz is constructing a natural gas processing plant about 125 miles east of Homs. Russian investments in Syria encompassing infrastructure, energy and tourism total $20bn.

Historic relationship: The friendship is deep-seated. It was Soviet assistance that helped build the strength of the ruling Baath party, with which it shared some socialist ideologies. Bashar's father, Hafez, trained as an air force pilot in the Soviet Union.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Voices
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Account Manager (Junior)

Negotiable: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Account Manager (Junior) Account ...

Solar Business Development Manager – M&A

£50000 - £60000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitmen...

Test Analyst

£20000 - £30000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: An experienced Tes...

Bookkeeper - Central London

£27000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Bookkeeper - Central London A growi...

Day In a Page

A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

Voted for by the British public, the artworks on Art Everywhere posters may be the only place where they can be seen
Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Blanche Marvin reveals how Tennessee Williams used her name and an off-the-cuff remark to create an iconic character
Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Websites offering your ebooks for nothing is only the latest disrespect the modern writer is subjected to, says DJ Taylor
Edinburgh Fringe 2014: The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee

Edinburgh Fringe 2014

The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee
Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

The woman stepping down as chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund is worried