Wednesday, May 15, 2013

U.N. condemns Assad forces, but unease grows about rebels

    Wednesday, May 15, 2013   No comments

The U.N. General Assembly condemned Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's forces and praised the opposition on Wednesday, but a decline in support for the resolution suggested growing unease about extremism among Syria's fractious rebels.

While the non-binding text has no legal force, resolutions of the 193-nation assembly can carry significant moral and political weight. There were 107 votes in favor, 12 against and 59 abstentions - a drop in support compared with a resolution condemning the Syrian government that passed in August with 133 votes in favor, 12 against and 31 abstentions.

U.N. diplomats cited concerns that Syria could be headed for "regime change" engineered by foreign governments and fears about a strengthening Islamist extremist element among the rebels as reasons for the decline in support for the resolution.

Russia, a close ally and arms supplier for Assad, strongly opposed the resolution drafted by Qatar, which Assad's government has accused of arming the rebels seeking to oust him. But Moscow, which along with China has used its veto three times to prevent Security Council action against Assad, could not block the motion as there are no vetoes in the General Assembly.

Diplomats said the Russian delegation wrote to all U.N. members urging them to oppose the resolution. Moscow has complained that the resolution undermines U.S.-Russian efforts to organize a peace conference that would include Assad's government and rebels, a meeting U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has said would likely take place in early June.


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