The Security Council held session on Saturday to discuss a potential resolution on Syria. To give you a sense of how much a priority this is for the United States, the White House released this statement on Friday night:
The United States strongly condemns the Syrian government’s outrageous use of violence across Syria today and particularly in the northwestern region. There must be an immediate end to the brutality and violence. We regret the loss of life and extend our condolences to all those who have suffered. Earlier this week, we urged the Syrian government to exercise maximum restraint and not to respond to its own reported losses through additional civilian casualties. The Syrian government is leading Syria on a dangerous path. For that reason, it is critical that all Syrians remain united, work to prevent sectarian conflict, and pursue their aspirations peacefully. We stand by the Syrian people who have shown their courage in demanding dignity and the transition to democracy that they deserve.
Syrian security forces continue to shoot, assault, and arrest demonstrators and political prisoners remain detained. It’s this kind of appalling violence that leads the United States to support a UN Security Council Resolution condemning the Syrian government’s actions and calling for an immediate halt to the violence and abuse of basic human rights.
To give you a sense of how much of a priority this is to Russia and China, well, they did not even show up meeting. The four European countries on the council –France, Germany UK, and Portugal — are each co-sponsoring the text. Lebanon, which is on the Council, would probably vote against the resolution. This means that the big prize right now is South Africa, India, and Brazil. It would appear that the West’s diplomatic strategy is to try and convince those three countries to vote for the resolution (as oppose to abstain), which the west feels would make it more difficult for Russia and China to veto.
Western envoys said they were especially frustrated with the positions of Brazil, India and South Africa, which are considering abstaining from the vote.
“We’re trying to explain to them that abstaining on this issue means siding with Russia and China — and Syria,” one diplomat said.
Expect some intense diplomacy. The big question I have is whether or not the Europeans will actually put this to a vote and try to force Russia and China to veto–or, if they would simply shelve the resolution rather than risk the veto? What do you think?