A visibly infuriated Susan Rice, the US ambassador to the UN, warned that the council’s inaction risks encouraging “a proxy war that could engulf the region.”
In defense of his country’s veto, Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said Western countries were trying with their resolution to bring down Assad under the guise of a UN peace effort. He said the proof was that in Russia’s view the British resolution was one-sided and targeted only Assad, not the rebels.
In the absence of UN action the US will not sit idly by, Ambassador Rice said, but will “intensify our work with a diverse range of nations outside the Security Council” to address Syria’s violence bring about a political transition.
The Security Council voted as speculation swirled around the whereabouts of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and the stability of his regime. A day after a bombing struck Mr. Assad’s tight inner circle of power, killing three top aides, diplomats and analysts offered varying assessments of how long the regime could last.
The US may be freed up by what Rice called the Security Council “failure,” but the need to do something different and shift away from UN-coordinated action also presents the Obama administration with a new set of problems. For one thing, the White House will now have to consider direct intervention more seriously – something President Obama had hoped to avoid in the run-up to the November election.