Russia and China Continue To Oppose Intervention in Syria
Russia and China reaffirmed their opposition on Wednesday to the idea of military intervention in Syria, after the president of France, Francois Hollande on Tuesday said that the idea of a military intervention in the country which has known 15 months of turmoil should not be taken out of the table altogether.
The comments of the French president, who said that his country would not rule out a military intervention, if it were to be backed by the international community, were made after the massacre in the Syrian town of Houla, where more than a hundred persons died last Friday.
As the investigations progress, it becomes more obvious that many of the people in Houla and the surroundings were executed in cold blood, witnesses saying that they were killed by people who raided their houses and shot people indiscriminately.
Many of those killed were women and children, which drew the outrage of the international community, faced with the prospect of the failure of Kofi Annan’s six-point peace plan for Syria. Government in Damascus and the rebels continue to trade responsibility for the massacre, while the United Nations considers the government responsible at least for the pounding of the residential areas.
Many witnesses and activists say that the pro-governmental militia called shabiha participated in the killing of the civilians who were shot or stabbed. The government denies and blames it on the rebels who control the area where these attacks were carried out.
Russia used very strong words against the regime on Monday, following a meeting with the British Foreign Secretary William Hague, accusing the government in Damascus for most of the situation, but being careful to ascribe the guilt for what happened in Houla to both the government and the rebels.
On Wednesday, Russian diplomacy said that the UN Security Council was strong enough to get the attention of the leader in Damascus, appreciating that the UNSC refrained from issuing a more binding document.
However, the Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov said that it would be premature that more actions against Syria be decided on the floor of the council for now. Speaking about Hollande’s reference, Gatilov said that his country was “categorically opposing” such actions, which would only make things worse for Syria and possible for the entire region.
On Monday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov was careful to remind that Russia was supporting the Syrian people and not the Assad family in particular. He said that Assad’s actions were driving both Syria and Russia to the corner, narrowing the possibilities.
China said on Wednesday that it opposed the international intervention in Syria as well, at a time when the regime in Damascus faces more isolation, as some of the states like the United States, Britain, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Japan and Turkey, already announced they were expelling the Syrian diplomats.
The conflict in Syria began influencing the American presidential campaign as well, as the Republican candidate Mitt Romney said that the country should have a more aggressive posture towards the Syrian government.
The United States State Department announced that it held the Syrian government responsible for the massacre in Houla, and offered the charge d’affairs of Syria 72 hours to leave the country.
The U.S. State Department added that it held the Iranians responsible for aiding and abetting what happened in Houla, presenting a statement of the Iranian Quds Forces who said he was proud about the work of the Iranian troops have done training and assisting the Syrian troops.
Syria responded to the wave of expulsions of diplomats by demanding of the Dutch charge d’affairs to leave Damascus in 72 hours.
White House has said that it was working with the Russian counterpart but that the further militarization of the conflict was not an option. The Pentagon has emphasized that so far the focus of the aid for the Free Syrian Army was of non-lethal equipment but the spokesperson’s statement left the door open for the possibility of a shift in this decision in the sense that the Pentagon could offer in the future other kind of help.
Kofi Annan has briefed the United Nations Security Council on the situation in Syria and recommended that the mission, whose mandate expires July 21, continue, while different approaches to the conflict may be sought.
Diplomats at the UNSC estimate that a series of sanctions against the government could be the next move after the three-month mission of the U.N. observers completes its task, as no other measures can be seen in the near future.11