Stalemate at UN on resolution urging Assad to go - Middle East - World - The Independent

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.

Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke's video for 'Blurred Lines' has been criticised for condoning rape
music
News
Paper trail: the wedding photograph found in the rubble after 9/11 – it took Elizabeth Keefe 13 years to find the people in it
newsWho are the people in this photo? It took Elizabeth Stringer Keefe 13 years to find out
Arts and Entertainment
Evil eye: Douglas Adams in 'mad genius' pose
booksNew biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Sport
FootballFull debuts don't come much more stylish than those on show here
Arts and Entertainment
Fringe show: 'Cilla', with Sheridan Smith in the title role and Aneurin Barnard as her future husband Bobby Willis
tvEllen E Jones on ITV's 'Cilla'
News
i100
Sport
Tim Wiese
sport
Life and Style
Kim Kardashian drawn backlash over her sexy swimsuit selfie, called 'disgusting' and 'nasty'
fashionCritics say magazine only pays attention to fashion trends among rich, white women
Arts and Entertainment
TVShows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Arts and Entertainment
Hit the roof: hot-tub cinema east London
architectureFrom pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
Travel
travel
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

Data/ MI Analyst

£25000 - £30000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client are cur...

Project Manager (retail, upgrades, rollouts)

£40000 - £45000 Per Annum + benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Project...

Project Manager (upgrades, rollouts, migrations)

£350 - £425 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Project Manager - 3 mont...

DT Teacher -Key stage 3 all areas

£120 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: We are seeking a DT teache...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week