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Nehad Ismail Headshot

How Many More Syrians Have to be Killed Before Russia and China Condemn the Syrian Regime?

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TOP GOON BASHAR AL ASSAD
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The UN Human rights High Commissioner Navi Pillay told the world on Monday that more than 5000 civilian have been killed by the Syrian security forces since March. At least 300 children have been killed.

Pillay said she recommended that the council refers the Syrian regime to the International Criminal Court, the permanent war crimes tribunal, for investigation of possible crimes against humanity.

US ambassador Susan Rice said Pillay's briefing "underscores the urgency of the present moment."

"Through condemnations issued by the UN general assembly and human rights council and bold steps taken by the Arab League and the government of Turkey, international bodies are starting to match their severe disapproval of Syria's bloody crackdown with concrete steps to bring it to an end," Rice said.

"It is past time for the UN security council to do the same."

The representatives of France, Britain and Portugal also said it was time for the council to take strong action on Syria.

Two months ago, Russia and China vetoed a western-backed UN Security Council Resolution condemning the bloodshed in Syria.

I stated previously in other articles that Russia and China are not known for their respect of human rights. Frankly they don't give a damn. For China, commercial interests are more important than principles. For Russia a naval base in the Syria coastal town of Tartous is more important than the lives of thousands of Syrians.

In January 2007 Russia and China vetoed a resolution against the Burmese military junta in Myanmar. In July 2008 both Russia and China rejected sanctions against the Robert Mugabe's odious regime in Zimbabwe. In October 2011 they vetoed a resolution condemning Syria which would have been the first such legally binding move adopted by the Security Council since the Syrian Regime began using its military machine against protesters in mid-March in the town of Deraa.

The European sponsors of the resolution had tried to avoid a veto by watering down the language on sanctions three times, to the point where the word "sanctions" was deleted. India, South Africa, Brazil and Lebanon abstained. The four abstainers have some explaining to do.
China's ambassador, Li Bandong, said his country was concerned about the violence and wanted reforms but opposed the resolution because sanctions, or the threat of sanctions, do not help the situation in Syria but rather complicates the situation."

Of course such justifications are feeble lies. Russia and China feel confident that Bashar al-Assad will survive, cling to power and continue to be a good friend with both powers. In October when Russia and China blocked the UN Security Council resolution some 3200 people have been killed. The number is now 5200 and rising daily. Does the figure have to climb to 10 or 15 thousands before Russia and China decide enough is enough?

What message does this double action give to the people of Syria? What does it tell the Arab Street about Russia and China?

The Syrians are seething with anger at the Russian and Chinese's stance.
The people of the Middle East see it like this; both Russia and China are giving the green light to the butchers of Damascus to carry on killing pro-democracy demonstrators. Russia and China stand with the tyrant against the people.

By their actions Russia and China will have no place in a new democratic Middle East. Their action has debunked the myth that only the USA and Western Europe are propping up the dictators of the Middle East.

Russia and China have lost Libya because they supported Muammar Gaddafi until the last minute then switched their support to the National Transitional Council when they realised that their man was doomed. By then it was too late for them to redeem their tarnished image.

The Arab Street has been disillusioned. Russian and Chinese flags have been burnt in various Syrian towns.

The Libyan and Syrian people have now discovered who their real friends are. In the final analysis Russia and China are the real losers because of their short-sighted policies of defending the killers of Damascus.

You will be forgiven if you think that China and Russia have learnt their lesson from the Libyan experience. No, they have not. They are repeating the same catastrophic errors with Syria. The Syrian regime is going to fall sooner or later. It has lost the support of its people and most of the Arab Street. Russia and China have decided to stand against the Arab Spring Tsunami and stop the clock.

The US Administration together with the UK and France has said the right things. I still believe that should Russia and China continue with their obstructive attitude, President Obama with his EU colleagues should take the lead to help the Syrian people get rid of the tyrant ruling over them. Do we have to witness large scale genocide before the world moves with or without the benefit of a UN Security Council resolution? Silence is the worst possible option. I recognize that neither China nor Russia are champions of democracy and human rights, but common sense and simple PR rules, demand that they take into account the Arab world's public opinion and their own image in the eyes of Arabs and Muslims everywhere.

For many decades the Arab people in general looked at Russia and China as champions of the third world, the poor and the oppressed. This is no longer the case. Now we know better.