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MD Blog > Syria: against mass killings, but business comes first. Always.
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Syria: against mass killings, but business comes first. Always.

Russia and China vetoed on Saturday a UN resolution aimed at stopping the ongoing violence in Syria. Why shouldn’t we be surprised? It has been a long time since we accepted the ostrich policy, it is a shame we accept to put economic and political interests before human rights. In fact, Russia and China joining forces in a double veto to knock down a Western-Arab U.N. Security Council resolution is an exchange of good process which strengthens China, Russia and Syria mutually.

From CNN today: ‘China and Syria gave each other understanding and support on issues concerning each other’s core and major interests,” the statement said. “China showed consistent understanding and firm support for Syria’s position on the Golan Heights while Syria remained committed to the one China position and rendered China staunch support on matters related to Taiwan, Tibet, Xinjiang and human rights […] The total value of Syrian contracts with the Russian defense industry likely exceeds $4 billion, according to Jeffrey Mankoff, an adjunct fellow with the Center for Strategic and International Studies Russia and Eurasia Program […] Russia also leases a naval facility at the Syrian port of Tartus, giving the Russian navy its only direct access to the Mediterranean…‘.

Things are clear, simple, easy to understand. Russia and China put economic and political interests before human rights. So you would ‘logically’ think they bury their heads in the sand, but no. Both countries are very well aware of the mass killings. From the same article published on CNN: ‘Speaking after the Saturday vote, ambassadors from both Russia and China said they do support an end to the violence but felt the resolution did not address the crisis properly‘. I would love to hear what resolution China and Russia ‘feel’ (yes, we are talking about ‘feelings’ here) would be addressing the crisis properly. An official rebuke, maybe? Don’t push it too far, only if there are no consequences on their businesses, of course.

This is so cynical. Awfully cynical. Syrian opposition groups say more than 7,000 people have now been killed in the country since last March. But what are those lost lives worth in comparison to the total value of Syrian contracts with the Russian defense industry which is likely to exceed $4 billion, according to Jeffrey Mankoff, an adjunct fellow with the Center for Strategic and International Studies Russia and Eurasia Program. Not much, I’m afraid.

So we are back to square one. The one I described almost two years ago in The power of carrot and stick: reductio ad absurdum? My post followed the article by John Prendergast published on the Enough Project website: The value of sticks and carrots for Sudan. I pointed out several incoherences (even though I agree with most of what Prendergast said): ‘Do the carrot and the stick are of any help when countries like China and Russia still collaborate with President Omar al-Bashir, indicted for war crimes and crimes against humanity in Darfur? When French and American companies like Total and Chevron fuel the Burmese Junta with their offshore gas fields money? When multinational corporations are importing conflict minerals and selling arms? When unregulated financial speculations (my post on this topic) put our economies at risk, create hunger, war or ecological disaster? Do our desire for sexy gadgets and trendy fashion clothes justify forcing some people to work in slave-labour conditions? There are so many examples to illustrate the awkwardness and the incoherence of the world we live in, and China, Russia, United States and France are not the only countries going astray’.

For Syria, China and Russia are the main ‘resolution opponents’ but for Burma, Sudan and several other countries, our very own nation may be among the ‘opponents’. So for example when France said of the vote (tweeted by @franceonu): “History will have no mercy for those who blocked the UNSC from bringing its support to the Arab League efforts“, we of course can’t disagree with this statement but at the same time, we have to wonder why, on the other side, we are so soft with other countries, which are also accountable for mass killings. Every situation is unique and requires its own approach but still, do I have to mention the death of 300,000 people in Darfur since 2003 and the ongoing situation in the states of Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile? In a statement by the Press Secretary on aerial bombardments in Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile states, we can read: ‘We believe that this conflict can only be resolved by dialogue, not through violence, and we encourage all parties to negotiate a peaceful settlement’. Dialogue, really? No offense, but the U.S really sounds like Russia and China on this one. Call it double standards or two sets of rules, we end up with the same shameful situations.

The U.N. Security Council failed to approve a resolution calling for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to step aside. Like I said, we are back to square one. Meanwhile, hundreds of men, women and children will die today, tomorrow and the day after… Welcome to our crazy, unfair world based on economic and political values, and a countries ‘best interest first’ policy I am definitely not compatible with.

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