Day of UN debate over Syria unrest ends in deadlock

At the United Nations in New York, a day of debate on the unrest in Syria has ended in deadlock, with Russia and China standing firm in their opposition to an Arab League call for “rapid and decisive action,” Al Jazeera reported.

Arab League Secretary-General Nabil Elaraby called on the council to endorse a resolution that demands the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad hand powers to his deputy in order to defuse 11 months of violence.

Update: Reuters reported this afternoon that Russia has threatened to veto any UN Security Council resolution it deems "unacceptable." Russia and China have both resisted Western attempts to see the violence condemned unequivocally, Reuters said.

"If it is a text that we consider erroneous, that will lead to a worsening of the crisis, we will not allow it to be passed. That is unequivocal," Russian U.N. envoy Vitaly Churkin was quoted as telling reporters in Moscow via a videolink from New York.

Earlier today, Russia's envoy to the European Union, Vladimir Chizhov, said there was no chance a Western-Arab draft text could be accepted unless it expressly rejected armed intervention, according to Reuters.

More on GlobalPost: Syria: UN calls for 'urgent' action to prevent civil war

The Arab League said it opposed foreign military intervention to achieve the objective, and the text states that if Assad fails to stand down within 15 days, the Security Council would consider "further measures" – possibly economic or other sanctions, Al Jazeera reported.

It is understood the resolution has strong support from 10 of the Security Council's 15 members. This means that Russia or China would need to use their power of veto to block it.

However Russia reiterated its opposition to the text, which is says goes too far, and could lead to military

Churkin, said that Syria should be allowed to “decide for itself" and that the UN “simply does not have the mandate … to impose the parameters for an internal settlement."

More on GlobalPost: Western powers, Arab League push for urgent UN action on Syria

China said it, too, remained opposed because the Arab League plan amounted to regime change, the BBC reported.

According to the state-run Xinhua news agency, the Chinese UN Ambassador, Li Baodong, told the council:

“China … resolutely opposes pushing for forced regime change in Syria, as it violates the United Nations Charter and the basic norms guiding the practice of international relations."

The Syrian UN Ambassador Bashar Ja'afari, also appearing at the UN, argued that Arab League leaders had negatively interpreted a report by its monitoring mission in Syria, Reuters reported.

More on GlobalPost: UNICEF: 384 children killed in Syria

Responding to comments by the Qatari Prime Minister, Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim, that Syria's "killing machine is still at work," Ja'afari asked if Qatar, which backed last year's military intervention in Libya, was “a member of NATO or the Arab League?"

Amid the ongoing opposition to the draft resolution, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton suggested negotiations could continue over the text over the coming days.

The World Listener Survey 2024

We’d love to hear your thoughts on The World. Please take our 5-min. survey.