Syrian opposition asks to block Russian votes on Syria at UNSC

Syrian opposition asks to block Russian votes on Syria at UNSC
3 min read
11 March, 2022
Syrian opposition figures have sent a letter to the UN Secretary General asking him to block Russia's ability to vote on Syria-related matters.
Syrians decried what they saw as western double standards in dealing with their country and Ukraine. [Getty]

A group of hundreds of Syrian opposition figures have sent a list of demands to the UN Secretary General, including a request that Russia be blocked from any future UN Security Council (UNSC) votes on Syria.

The list of five demands, first reported by Syrian media outlet Enab Baladi, emerged in the context of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The signatories ended the letter by saying that their “sympathy today with the Ukrainian people has a special and terrible taste in bitterness,” noting that the weapons being used on Ukrainians are the same “that Putin used on our Syrian people with unimaginable brutality”.

The letter went on to demand that Russia be prevented from voting on future UNSC resolutions as it is “a party to the conflict”. It further asked that Syria be suspended from the UN and be replaced by a “transitional governing body independent of the Assad regime”.

Finally, the signatories requested that the UN open an investigation into war crimes and refer perpetrators to the International Criminal Court.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has drawn comparisons to its actions in Syria since 2015, with commentators pointing out similarities in its indiscriminate bombings of civilians in Ukraine.

Syria has been embroiled in a civil war for the last 11 years, starting with the Syrian regime’s brutal crackdown on peaceful protesters in 2011. Since then, at least 350,000 people have been killed and at least half of the country’s population has been displaced.

Russia intervened on the regime’s behalf in 2015, decisively shifting the tide of the war back in the regime’s favour. Though Russia’s stated goal in entering the civil war was to combat terrorism, the vast majority killed by its aerial bombing campaign have been civilians.

Critics have said that there has been a double standard in the west’s response to Russian’s invasion of Ukraine, both in Europe’s sudden welcoming of refugees and its denunciation of Russian war crimes.

“What the west has offered to Ukraine is their right, but why didn’t they do the same for the Syrian people?” Fadel Abdul Ghany, the founder of the Syrian Network for Human Rights and a signatory of the letter, told The New Arab.

“We noticed that the [UN] General Assembly was moved [on the Russian invasion of Ukraine]. We have requested the same after the utter failure of the UN Security Council. It’s our right to be protected and to stop Russian vetoes,” Abdul Ghany said.

Russia has acted as Syria’s main political patron on the international stage. Its UNSC veto (alongside China, at times) has blocked many international resolutions against the Assad regime or to assist the Syrian opposition.

Most recently, Russia threatened to veto a UNSC resolution to authorise the UN to send aid into Syria via Turkey – an aid channel upon which millions in northwest Syria depend to survive.