Di­vided UN fails to save Aleppo

The Myanmar Times - - World -

RUS­SIA ve­toed a UN draft res­o­lu­tion de­mand­ing an end to the bomb­ing of Aleppo, but its own ri­val mea­sure on a truce in Syria’s war-bat­tered city was also re­jected.

The fail­ure of the two res­o­lu­tions on Oc­to­ber 8 deep­ened di­vi­sions at the Se­cu­rity Coun­cil be­tween Da­m­as­cus ally Moscow and the Western pow­ers back­ing op­po­si­tion rebels in the war.

It was the fifth time that Rus­sia used its veto to block UN ac­tion to end the five-year war in Syria, which has claimed 300,000 lives.

As the coun­cil meet­ing got un­der way, the Syr­ian regime pressed its as­sault on rebel-held ar­eas of Aleppo, where 125,000 peo­ple are liv­ing un­der siege and fac­ing al­most-daily heavy bomb­ing.

French For­eign Min­is­ter Jean-Marc Ayrault urged the coun­cil to take im­me­di­ate ac­tion to save Aleppo from be­ing de­stroyed by the Rus­sia-backed Syr­ian bomb­ing

“What is at stake is, first and fore­most, the fate of Aleppo and its peo­ple,” Mr Ayrault told the coun­cil.

“But it’s more than that – it’s the hope of es­tab­lish­ing at last an end to a con­flict for which we are all pay­ing cat­a­strophic con­se­quences.”

Mr Ayrault said the coun­cil “must de­mand im­me­di­ate ac­tion in or­der to save Aleppo”.

In a mes­sage di­rected at Rus­sia, Mr Ayrault said any coun­try that op­poses the French mea­sure will “give Bashar al-As­sad the pos­si­bil­ity of killing even more”.

The draft res­o­lu­tion pre­sented by France called for an end to all mil­i­tary flights over Aleppo and to the aerial bom­bard­ments that have es­ca­lated since the Syr­ian army launched an of­fen­sive last month.

It won 11 votes in favour in the 15-mem­ber Se­cu­rity Coun­cil, but Rus­sia and Venezuela voted against. China, which had in the past backed Rus­sia to block res­o­lu­tions on Syria, ab­stained, as did An­gola.

Shortly after the Rus­sian veto, the Se­cu­rity Coun­cil re­jected the ri­val draft pre­sented by Moscow by a vote of nine against, four in favour and two ab­sten­tions.

Bri­tain, France and the US voted against the Rus­sian mea­sure that called for a cease­fire but did not men­tion a halt in the air strikes.

Rus­sian am­bas­sador Vi­taly Churkin, who holds the coun­cil pres­i­dency, said the two votes rep­re­sented “one of the strangest spec­ta­cles” at the Se­cu­rity Coun­cil be­cause all 15 mem­bers knew from the out­set that they would fail.

“This waste of time is in­ad­mis­si­ble,” said Mr Churkin.

Bri­tish am­bas­sador Matthew Ry­croft de­scribed it as “a bad day for Rus­sia, but an even worse day for the peo­ple of Aleppo”.

China, Egypt, Rus­sia and Venezuela voted in favour of the Rus­sian mea­sure, while An­gola and Uruguay ab­stained.

Fol­low­ing the meet­ing, Mr Churkin in­sisted that diplo­matic ef­forts on Syria were not dead.

“No, no, no,” he said when asked if this was the end of diplo­macy on Syria. “It’s just the end of one very weird meet­ing.”

The Syr­ian and Rus­sian bomb­ing cam­paign has es­ca­lated since the Rus­sian-backed Syr­ian army launched an of­fen­sive to re­take the city on Septem­ber 22.

Since the regime of­fen­sive be­gan a few days after a US and Rus­sian bro­kered cease­fire col­lapsed, at least 290 peo­ple – mostly civil­ians – have been killed in rebel-held ar­eas, 57 them chil­dren, the Syr­ian Ob­ser­va­tory for Hu­man Rights re­ported.

A fur­ther 50 civil­ians, in­clud­ing nine chil­dren, have been killed in rebel shelling on regime-held ar­eas of the city.

Ger­man For­eign Min­is­ter FrankWal­ter Stein­meier warned that the mount­ing ten­sions be­tween Wash­ing­ton and Moscow over the con­flict had cre­ated a sit­u­a­tion “more dan­ger­ous” than the Cold War.

“It’s a fal­lacy to think that this is like the Cold War,” Mr Stein­meier said in an in­ter­view pub­lished by Bild news­pa­per.

“The cur­rent times are dif­fer­ent and more dan­ger­ous.” –

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