The United Nations General Assembly voted on a resolution Tuesday to condemn Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime for its "indiscriminate" shelling and bombing of civilians. The resolution, which passed, also urges a political transition through "inclusive" democratic elections.
Though it has no binding implications, the vote is an interesting glimpse of the increasingly tense global politics around Syria's crisis. Of the U.N. General Assembly members, 107 countries voted yes, 12 voted no, 59 chose to abstain and several did not vote at all because their delegates were not present. Those vote totals are mapped out above.
The 12 "no" votes included Russia and Iran, Assad's powerful backers. China, a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council that would have to approve any U.N. military action, voted no. So did the usual list of rogue regimes: North Korea, Belarus, Cuba and Zimbabwe. A handful of Latin American nations also joined: Nicaragua, Venezuela, Bolivia and Ecuador.
The "yes" votes included the entire Western world and most of the Middle East: Algeria abstained, and Iraq did not vote, but Syria was otherwise rejected by the Arab world. Several Muslim-majority nations also joined in support of the resolution: Afghanistan, Pakistan, Malaysia and a few African countries with Muslim populations.
Most of Africa abstained. So did much of Latin America, as well as South and Southeast Asia.
The Syrian regime seems to be pretty unpopular in the world. But it still has its backers, as well as a number of countries unwilling to condemn it to the extent outlined in the U.N. resolution. Ultimately, Syria's isolation may not be as important as the international isolation of Assad's major supporters: Russia and Iran. As long as so many countries on this map are purple and there are more than a few red ones, Moscow and Tehran are unlikely to feel enough pressure to drop their support for Assad.
The Washington Post's Colum Lynch reported Tuesday on the debate around the resolution:
The resolution’s drafting was led by Qatar, the Persian Gulf sheikdom that has been arming the Syrian opposition. The final text stopped short of formally recognizing the Syrian opposition, though it included a provision that notes the “wide international acknowledgment” of the Syrian coalition “as the legitimate representative of the Syrian people.”
Syria and its political allies, including China, Iran and Russia, denounced the measure as one-sided, saying any decision about the legitimacy of Syria’s leadership should be made by Syrians. They also said the measure unfairly criticized the government and made no mention of the opposition’s atrocities. Although the resolution condemns violence, it largely ignores specific allegations of wrongdoing by the armed opposition and anti-government extremists.
“This draft resolution seeks to escalate the crisis and fuel violence in Syria” by undermining the Syrian government through the recognition of a “fake representative” of the Syrian people, said Syria’s U.N. ambassador, Bashar al-Ja’afari.