The vote did not take into account the agreement reached on December 2 between Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and US Secretary of State John Kerry to organize a group of experts on Aleppo. The plan included the withdrawal of militants from the eastern part of the city. Actually, by pushing the resolution through, the US ambassador was hindering the diplomatic initiative of his own State Department! After the vote, the US withdrew from the deal to demonstrate once again it was not a reliable partner.
The vote also violated the Security Council's working procedures because the draft had not been given the traditional 24 hours for it to be under review.
The US, UK and French representatives accused Russia and China of obstructing the attempts to address the humanitarian needs of civilians in the besieged city. The UK's representative Matthew Rycroft said that in vetoing the resolution Russia and its supporters "have also held to ransom the lives of hundreds of thousands of innocent men, women and children currently enduring hell in Aleppo". Moscow and Beijing were also slammed for blocking the resolution that could become a preface to a cessation of hostilities in all parts of Syria.
Speaking before the Security Council, Syrian Ambassador Bashar Ja'afari said the resolution was an attempt to impede the fight against terrorism. According to him, «From the very first days of the terrorist war imposed on my country, Syria, the United States, France and Britain indeed deserve the name of the three musketeers defending terrorism». The ambassador added that the Syrian government forces released some 100,000 civilians held prisoner by militants.
In his remarks, China’s UN envoy Liu Jieyi said that the United Kingdom’s ambassador to the United Nations is distorting facts and «poisoning the atmosphere» in the Security Council.
Previously humanitarian pauses have been used by militants to regroup and strengthen their positions to make the suffering of civilians even worse.
There is another example to illustrate the hypocrisy of those who condemn Russia and China while actually siding with extremist groups in Syria. The recent attack against a mobile hospital in Aleppo, when two Russian nurses were killed, went largely unnoticed by mainstream media in the West. It was also barely mentioned by Western representatives in the UN Security Council.
Neither officials of the US, UK and France, nor the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, nor the Red Cross, Human Rights Watch, Human Rights First, and Amnesty International made any comment to condemn the perpetrators.
Russia is left alone in its efforts to provide humanitarian aid to the civilians who are leaving eastern Aleppo trying to escape from terrorist groups.
The High Negotiations Committee of the Syrian Opposition, recognized by the West as the sole representative of the Syrian opposition, flatly refuses to comply with UN resolutions calling for a national dialogue and cessation of hostilities.
There is another aspect of the matter to be taken into account. There is no alternative to a military solution of the situation in Aleppo. Before the operation was launched, militants had their chance to leave the city. Humanitarian corridors for civilians were established. Each and every thing was done to minimize casualties and avoid hostilities, if possible.
Once started, a military operation cannot be conducted by fits and starts. It should run smoothly according to the plan. There is no way to stop it till the mission is accomplished. The Russia-supported Syrian forces cannot open fire and then halt combat actions to observe endless «truces» with no result but militants strengthening their positions to aggravate human suffering. Peace will be given a real chance again after the military victory in Aleppo is achieved.
With the city retaken, political efforts will renew. The diplomatic activities must be based on UN Security Council’s resolution 2254, which Russia and China endorsed.
The end of the military operation is close. According to The Wall Street Journal «signs mount that the opposition in the city faces potential collapse». The December 5 article says «Rebels in Aleppo estimate that President Bashar al-Assad’s forces and their allies now hold some 60% of the territory in the city the opposition controlled just over a week ago». It cites Mohammad Al-Sheikh, a member of a rebel faction in Aleppo, who says: «Rebels are thinking of leaving as well because they have become exhausted by the situation». He notes that «Their spirits are low. They are in despair over not being able to break the siege».
The newspaper reported that civilian leaders in opposition neighborhoods had formed a negotiating committee in order to begin talks with the Syrian government to reach a brokered agreement to end the current onslaught. But committee members said they have yet to contact the government as the situation in Aleppo remained in flux.
It should be noted that Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has made a statement saying that the groups which refuse to leave eastern Aleppo will be treated as terrorists. «By refusing to walk out from eastern Aleppo they will in fact go ahead with armed struggle. We will treat them accordingly, as terrorists and extremists, and support the Syrian army in its operation against such armed gangs,» the top Russian diplomat warned.
The UN resolution was doomed from the start because it actually lumped together Russia and the terrorists. Besides, the draft document was an attempt to make Russia stop the operation. In October-November Russia did just that – Aleppo was not bombed for 28 days. Why should it do it again now, when the terrorists are on the brink of crushing defeat paving the way for a political dialogue and ultimate peaceful settlement – something that everyone has defined as a coveted final goal!
It’s impossible to eat the cake and have it, as well as it is impossible to reach a conflict settlement by concluding endless deals with the extremist groups trying to take advantage of the chaos reigning in the war-torn country. Military gains are the best way to make the opposing side ready for constructive negotiations.
The draft resolution looks very much like a provocation against the background of events taking place in Iraqi Mosul, where the US-led forces conduct an offensive to retake the city from Islamic State militants. The operation has left an unknown number of civilians dead, caused tens of thousands to flee, and disrupted water and utility supplies to the eastern districts of the city. There have also been reports of sectarian atrocities against the local Sunni population.
It is all about the different goals each side is pursuing, While Russia is undoubtedly serious about fighting terrorism in Syria and elsewhere, the West is focused on regime change at all costs. Anything would do to reach the goal, including the United Nations podium used for purely propaganda purposes.