Syrian crisis reaches critical juncture for all

On February 4, China and Russia stepped forward to block a resolution calling for an end to the violent crackdown by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. It marked a turning point on the ground in Syria, as well as in international diplomacy.

Marc Lynch expressed this view in a Foreign Policy blog, saying that the veto “will diminish the relevance of the United Nations and increase the odds that Syria will descend even further into a civil war fueled by a flood of weapons and aid to all parties. . . . . The UN’s failure won’t end regional and international efforts to deal with the escalating brutality, but it will now force those efforts into other, less effective and less internationally legitimate channels.”

On February 6, the US State Department announced the suspension of all operations at the embassy in Damascus, Syria and the evacuation of all US personnel. The decision was a result of recent bombings, including one on December 23, 2011 and the “escalating violence” within the country. The move came on a day when as many as 95 people were killed.

The crackdown by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has worsened in recent weeks and his determination to remain in power despite international condemnation has hardened.

On the heels of his country’s veto of a Security Council resolution calling for Assad to step down, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov traveled to Syria for talks, but showed hubris, rather than a desire to end the violence.

Read the UN Security Council resolution.

According to the BBC, Lavrov characterized Western reaction condemning Russia’s veto of the UN Security Council resolution on Saturday bordered on “hysteria” and that Russia’s objection along with China was due to the fact the UN draft would have forced regime change on Syria.

As Daniel Kaufman of the Brookings Institution demonstrates, the regime in Syria is being held up by the willfull assistance of Russia and China.

The head of the Arab League Nabil Elaraby, which withdrew its advisors from Syria on January 28, said in a statement that the crisis in Syria was heading in “a serious direction” that could “slide towards civil war”. The coming days and weeks will determine not only the fate of the Syrian people and the Assad regime, but the future course of international engagement in the Middle East

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