The veto by Russia and China of the United Nations resolution to stop the killings in Syria gives Syrian President Bashar al-Assad free reign to continue his bloody repression and it means further instability in the region.
The U.N. estimates that more than 6,000 people have been killed and just yesterday, it was reported that hundreds of civilians were massacred in a government crackdown in the city of Homs.
The level of violence in this country has reached such an extreme that a delegation of Arab League observers suspended its mission due to the widespread violence.
The civil unrest in Syria follows along the lines of the so-called “Arab Spring.” In this case, the uprising is against the political dynasty in power for close to 40 years, handed down from Hafez al-Assad to his son, Bashar.
Last June, six months after the protests began, Bashar al-Assad called for national dialogue and offered a series of political reforms. But it was too little, too late. The government’s repression was responsible for too many deaths to deter the growing opposition movement.
Yesterday, the U.N. Security Council had the opportunity to back the Arab League’s plan for a political transition process. However, the veto by China and Russia, the latter being Syria’s chief ally and major arms supplier, halted all international action in its tracks.
The U.N. action wasn’t going to stop the violence on its own, but it was a strong statement of the international community’s condemnation of the government’s bloody repression.
At this stage, what is needed is the departure of President al-Assad and a transition to a more transparent government. Clearly, the danger exists of a vacuum of power that could see Syria fall into the quagmire of religious conflict between Shities and Sunnis. Al-Assad’s Syria is secular, similar to Iraq under Saddam Hussein.
Political turmoil in the Middle East isn’t coming to an end and Syria is part of the winds of change. It is only a question of time. The U.N. veto just slows down the inevitability of the end of the al-Assad rule.