Impasse at the UNSC over alleged chemical attack in Syria

The United Nations Security Council has thus far failed to vote on three different resolutions addressing the alleged use of chemical agents in Douma, Syria.

Russia vetoed a US-sponsored resolution on the matter, and then submitted two alternative resolutions,which failed to gather the necessary votes. Russian envoy to the UN, Vassily Nebenzia, warned that the US resolution was designed to fail so that it could “justify” unauthorized military action.

The US-sponsored resolution received 12 votes in favor, two against and one abstention. As Russia used its veto right, the resolution was not adopted. The first Russian-sponsored resolution did not get the minimum nine votes needed to pass, with six votes for, seven against and two abstentions.

Russia then proposed another resolution, based on an earlier draft by Sweden, which voices support for the new Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) probe into the Douma incident. The UNSC meeting was suspended for consultations on Sweden’s request, before putting the resolution to vote. The subsequent vote garnered five votes in support of the resolution (Russia, China, Ethiopia, Kazakhstan and Bolivia), four votes against (the US, the UK, France and Poland) and six abstentions. Three of the five permanent members vetoed the resolution and as such it was not adopted.

For his part, US President Donald Trump condemned the “heinous” deadly chemical weapon attack and said he will decide within the next 24 to 48 hours whether to launch a military reprisal against Bashar al-Assad’s regime in Syria.

Speaking to reporters, Trump said that the US “cannot allow atrocities like that”, adding that he had “not much doubt” about who was behind the poison gas attack in Douma that killed more than 48 people and affected hundreds more. He further noted that, having already consulted with the UK and France, the decision will be made  in the next 24 to 48 hours.

Asked if the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, bore any responsibility for the latest attack, Trump said: “He may, yeah, he may. And if he does it’s going to be very tough, very tough. Everybody’s gonna pay a price. He will, everybody will”.

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