UN Talks on Syria Stall Again; Hama Marks 1982 Massacre
Ambassadors to the United Nations Security Council have failed to reach agreement on a draft European-Arab resolution to end the bloodshed in Syria, after a third straight session of talks.
U.N. envoys said Thursday the latest revisions are now being drafted for them to send to their capitals for consideration.
Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said the decision to send a draft back to governments “does not prejudge in any way” whether approval is likely. The U.S. envoy, Susan Rice, also played down expectations, saying there still are some complicated issues “that our capitals will have to deliberate on.”
A previous draft had said the Council “fully supports” an Arab League proposal for a political transition in Syria, but no longer included an explicit call for President Bashar al-Assad to delegate his powers and form a unity government ahead of elections. Churkin told a closed-door session of the world body Thursday that Moscow will veto the draft if it is submitted with the phrase “fully supports” still intact.
Russia, a veto-wielding member of the Security Council, has promised to reject any text that hints at regime change or that does not explicitly rule out foreign military intervention.
Also Thursday, Russia’s deputy defense minister said Moscow will keep selling arms to Syria despite mounting international condemnation of Mr. Assad’s bloody crackdown on an 11-month opposition uprising. A clause in the U.N. draft resolution expressing “grave concern at the continued transfer of weapons into Syria” was stricken from the text.
Earlier, despite a heavy security clampdown in the central Syrian city of Hama, protesters splashed red paint symbolizing blood in the streets to commemorate Hafez al-Assad’s February 1982 assault on the rebellious city. Amnesty International has estimated that between 10,000 and 25,000 people were killed in the siege, although conflicting figures exist and the Syrian government has never published an official toll.
The incident carried out by Mr. Assad’s late father is considered one of the most infamous massacres in the modern Middle East.
Residents said Hama was completely shut down Thursday, with schools and shops closed and employees staying home. Activists painted at least two streets red and threw red dye into the waters of Hama’s famous and ancient water wheels. Internet footage showed graffiti that read, “Hafez died, and Hama didn’t. Bashar will die, and Hama won’t.”