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Russia and China veto U.N. resolution on Syria

By Colum Lynch and Alice Fordham, Washington Post, Feb. 4, 2012

UNITED NATIONS — Russia and China on Saturday vetoed a U.N. resolution condemning Syria’s violent repression of anti-government demonstrators, effectively quashing efforts to isolate President Bashar al-Assad’s government as it intensifies a nearly year-long crackdown.

The veto dealt a blow to attempts by the United States and its European partners to rally behind an Arab League plan that would require Assad to yield power and make way for a democratically elected unity government. The vote followed weeks of negotiations in which diplomats had significantly watered down the resolution in a bid to win broad support

Also see:

Neil MacFarquhar and Anthony Shadid for the New York Times:

Russia and China Block U.N. Action on Crisis in Syria

Paul Harris, Martin Chulov, David Batty and Martin Pearse for The Guardian:

Syria resolution vetoed by Russia and China at United Nations
• Thirteen other council members vote in favour
• UK and US react with fury to decision
• Homs death toll more than 200, say activists

More from Colum Lynch @ his Turtle Bay blog @

Russia, China veto U.N. action on Syria ... and the blame game begins

Read the full article at

Protesters attack 7 Syrian embassies around world
By ROD McGUIRK, The Associated Press 3:11 a.m. Sunday, February 5, 2012

CANBERRA, Australia — Protesters attacked seven Syrian embassies around the world following reports of the bloodiest episode yet in Damascus' nearly yearlong crackdown on dissent. Mobs trashed diplomats' offices from London to Australia and set the embassy in Cairo on fire.

Activists say Syrian forces killed more than 200 people in the city of Homs before dawn Saturday, pounding restive neighborhoods with mortars and artillery. The government denies the reports [....]

[... ] The Russians faced a chorus of voices wondering why Syrian government tanks and artillery continued to shell civilian neighborhoods in numerous towns and cities a day after Mr. Lavrov met with President Bashar al-Assad in Damascus, the Syrian capital.

Both Britain and France noted that Mr. Assad had previously promised numerous visiting government leaders that he would end the violence, to no end.

“I think we have very little confidence in that,” Prime Minister David Cameron of Britain said when asked about Syrian promises to Russia, adding that by vetoing a United Nations Security Council resolution last Saturday condemning the violence, Russia and China had “set themselves against Arab opinion and world opinion.”

Alain Juppé, the French foreign minister, also expressed skepticism, while telling Parliament that the European Union would strengthen sanctions.

In Moscow, Mr. Lavrov voiced frustration at Western and Arab attitudes [....]


As Russia Pushes Diplomacy, Syrian Forces Are Said to Pound Homs
By Neil MacFarquhar and Michael Schwirtz, New York Times, Feb. 8/9, 2012

Al Jazeera:

Arab League 'plans to revive' Syria mission

Ban Ki-moon says bloc wants to send observers back with UN help as Syrian forces continued their assault on Homs.
Last Modified: 09 Feb 2012 04:39 GMT


Guardian live blog:

Syria: UN offers help as Homs assault continues - live updates

• UN offers to join the Arab League monitoring mission
• More killed on the sixth day of the assault on Homs
• Pentagon draws up contingency plans


4 Diplomats From Syria Are Expelled By Germany
By NICHOLAS KULISH and ALAN COWELL, New York Times, Feb. 9/10, 2012

BERLIN — As tensions mount between Western nations and Syria, the German authorities said Thursday that they had ordered the expulsion of four Syrian diplomats after arresting two men accused separately of spying on opponents of President Bashar al-Assad.

The police here arrested the two men on Tuesday, saying they were “strongly suspected of investigating Syrian opposition members in Germany for a Syrian intelligence service over a period of years.”

The men were identified, under standard German procedures, only as Mahmoud El A., 47, of Lebanese descent, and Akram O., 34, a Syrian.

State and federal police officers searched the homes of six other suspects “believed to be involved in espionage,” prosecutors said.

In a statement on Thursday, Guido Westerwelle, the German foreign minister, said [....]

Marc Lynch: "The 'Arm the FSA' Bandwagon",, Feb. 9, 2012

[....] I want to find ways to help the Syrian people too, badly. And I can fully understand why this looks like an attractive option. But people need to think far more carefully about the implications of funneling weapons to the Free Syrian Army before leaping into such a policy. Here are some of the questions that need to be asked [....]


Turkey plans conference on Syria, says Assad dares not to use ‘Kurds as a card’
Al Arabiya, 08 Feb. 2012

Turkey plans an international conference “as soon as possible” with regional players and world powers to solve the Syrian crisis, its foreign minister said on Wednesday.

“We are determined to establish a broad-based forum to promote international understanding with all countries concerned” with the developments in Syria, Ahmet Davutoglu said in a televised interview.

The planned conference follows on from a series of conferences hosted by Turkey in 2011 to unite various opposition groups into an established coalition opposition movement.

Davutoglu, who said that the Assad regime dares not to use Kurdish separatist groups as proxies and as a “card” against Turkey, added that Turkey’s prime minister, Tayyip Erdogan, would discuss the situation in Syria in a phone call with Russia’s Dmitry Medvedev later on Wednesday [....]

If US wants to act in Syria, Turkey could be crucial ally
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is set to meet with Turkey's foreign minister Monday to discuss the possibility of a 'coalition of the willing' to help civilians in Syria.

By Howard LaFranchi, Christian Science Monitor, Feb. 9, 2012

When Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton meets with the Turkish foreign minister in Washington Monday, topic No. 1 is expected to be their efforts to create a kind of “coalition of the willing” for Syria – nations that will support Syria’s civilian population while pressuring the Assad regime to cease attacks on opposition [....]

In Turkey, the United States finds a useful ally. It was an Assad ally until last summer but has emerged in recent weeks as perhaps the regime’s most dogged foreign opponent. Before departing Ankara Wednesday, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said Turkey is working to form “as soon as possible” a group to coordinate action between Syria’s pro-democracy opposition groups and interested regional and world powers.

Speaking on Turkish television, the foreign minister said such a broad-based international group is urgently needed to prevent the Syrian crisis from sinking the region into “a phase of instability.” [....]


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