UN waters down Syria proposals in bid to win Russia's backing

Call for Assad's removal is dropped and arms embargo shelved in effort to placate Moscow

Washington

UN Security Council diplomats yesterday were moving towards a watered-down resolution on Syria that would secure a yes vote from Russia by removing a call for President Bashar al-Assad to step aside and dropping direct threats of an arms embargo or new sanctions.

Amid continuing intense negotiations, US, Arab and Russian officials all sounded more upbeat over prospects for an agreed text. In fact, any consensus would be acknowledgement that the tougher terms championed by the Arab League and backed by the West could not survive Moscow's veto.

In a gesture to the Arab League, which last weekend withdrew its monitors from Syria as the violence continued unchecked, the latest version "fully supports" the League's decision to "facilitate a political transition leading to a democratic, plural political system". Gone, however, is the explicit demand that Mr Assad delegate powers to his deputy within 15 days, and that a government of national unity be installed.

Although China – another permanent council member with veto powers – also disapproved of the original text circulated by Morocco, the loudest objections have come from Russia.

Moscow is determined to prevent any repeat of what happened over Libya, when it let through a UN resolution that helped bring down Colonel Muammar Gaddafi – and, as the Kremlin saw it, underlined Russia's scant influence in world affairs. For that same reason, Moscow will do nothing that undermines virtually its last significant ally in the Arab world. Another factor however is the lucrative arms export trade with Syria, including equipment used to suppress the current protest. Despite overwhelming international criticism of the Assad regime's brutal tactics, the Putin/Medvedev government intends those sales to continue. "As of today there are no restrictions on the delivery of weapons and we must fulfil our obligations, and this what we are doing," the Deputy Defence Minister, Anatoly Antonov, said.

Nevertheless, the Arab League which has lobbied hard but now apparently in vain for a genuinely strong UN response, insisted that even a weaker resolution would help. "It will still put pressure on the Syrian government, because they realise that Russia cannot stand up forever," said Nabil al-Araby, the League's chief. "Russia does not want to be against the people," he added.

It was still uncertain last night when a final vote would be taken, despite the insistence by the US and its allies that the Council act swiftly. The decision ought to be simple Hillary Clinton declared this week: "Are you on the side of the Syrian people, or are you on the side of a brutal dictatorial regime?"

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
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

Recruitment Genius: SAGE Bookkeeper & PA to Directors

£18000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity has ari...

Recruitment Genius: Online Sales and Customer Services Executive

£15000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An On-line Sales & Customer Ser...

Recruitment Genius: Accounts Assistant - Fixed Term Contract - 6 Months

£15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the largest hospitality companies...

Recruitment Genius: Electricians - Fixed Wire Testing

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: As a result of significant cont...

Day In a Page

Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

Making of a killer

What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
Katy Perry prevented from buying California convent for $14.5m after nuns sell to local businesswoman instead

No grace of God for Katy Perry as sisters act to stop her buying convent

Archdiocese sues nuns who turned down star’s $14.5m because they don’t approve of her
Ajmer: The ancient Indian metropolis chosen to be a 'smart city' where residents would just be happy to have power and running water

Residents just want water and power in a city chosen to be a ‘smart’ metropolis

The Indian Government has launched an ambitious plan to transform 100 of its crumbling cities
Michael Fassbender in 'Macbeth': The Scottish play on film, from Welles to Cheggers

Something wicked?

Films of Macbeth don’t always end well - just ask Orson Welles... and Keith Chegwin
10 best sun creams for body

10 best sun creams for body

Make sure you’re protected from head to toe in the heatwave
Women's World Cup 2015: How England's semi-final success could do wonders for both sexes

There is more than a shiny trophy to be won by England’s World Cup women

The success of the decidedly non-famous females wearing the Three Lions could do wonders for a ‘man’s game’ riddled with excess, cynicism and greed
How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth: Would people co-operate to face down a global peril?

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth

Would people cooperate to face a global peril?
Just one day to find €1.6bn: Greece edges nearer euro exit

One day to find €1.6bn

Greece is edging inexorably towards an exit from the euro
New 'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could help surgeons and firefighters, say scientists

'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could become reality

Holographic projections would provide extra information on objects in a person's visual field in real time
Sugary drinks 'are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year'

Sugary drinks are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year

The drinks that should be eliminated from people's diets
Pride of Place: Historians map out untold LGBT histories of locations throughout UK

Historians map out untold LGBT histories

Public are being asked to help improve the map
Lionel, Patti, Burt and The Who rock Glasto

Lionel, Patti, Burt and The Who rock Glasto

This was the year of 24-carat Golden Oldies
Paris Fashion Week

Paris Fashion Week

Thom Browne's scarecrows offer a rare beacon in commercial offerings