U.S. Envoy: Russia Shielded Assad From ‘Justice’ on Chemical Strikes


U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power addresses the U.N. Security Council on Thursday. Power condemned Russia's veto of a measure to refer the Syrian civil war to the International Criminal Court.
National Journal
Diane Barnes
May 22, 2014, 10:52 a.m.

A seni­or U.S. en­voy ac­cused Rus­sia of giv­ing its Syr­i­an ally in­ter­na­tion­al cov­er for its al­leged past use of chem­ic­al weapons against op­pon­ents.

Am­bas­sad­or Sam­antha Power leveled the as­ser­tion on Thursday, after Mo­scow and Beijing blocked ap­prov­al of a U.N. Se­cur­ity Coun­cil pro­pos­al for the In­ter­na­tion­al Crim­in­al Court to ex­am­ine pos­sible vi­ol­a­tions of in­ter­na­tion­al law in Syr­ia’s 3-year-old civil war. More than 160,000 people have died in the con­flict, a Brit­ish watch­dog or­gan­iz­a­tion said this week.

“Be­cause of the de­cision by the Rus­si­an Fed­er­a­tion to back the Syr­i­an re­gime no mat­ter what it does, the Syr­i­an people will not see justice today,” said Power, Wash­ing­ton’s chief del­eg­ate to the United Na­tions.

The dip­lo­mat said Pres­id­ent Bashar As­sad’s gov­ern­ment has “car­ried out chem­ic­al-weapons at­tacks and bar­rel-bomb at­tacks with the full con­fid­ence that mean­ing­ful ac­tion by this coun­cil would be ob­struc­ted.”

Ac­cord­ing to the U.S. dip­lo­mat, Rus­sia’s vote si­lenced vic­tims of a nerve-agent strike that killed hun­dreds of people last sum­mer. Mo­scow has joined the re­gime in blam­ing rebel forces for any use of chem­ic­al arms in the con­flict.

“The rep­res­ent­at­ives from Syr­ia, and per­haps Rus­sia, may sug­gest that the res­ol­u­tion voted on today was biased,” Power said. “I agree — it was biased in the dir­ec­tion of es­tab­lish­ing facts.”

Mo­scow ad­op­ted a dif­fer­ent tack, by prais­ing a joint chem­ic­al-arms dis­arm­a­ment ini­ti­at­ive de­vised after the Aug. 21 sar­in-gas strike. The at­tack ini­tially promp­ted U.S. dis­cus­sion of a po­ten­tial mil­it­ary re­sponse, but those threats sub­sided after Dam­as­cus agreed to a Rus­si­an-U.S. plan for dis­mant­ling its chem­ic­al-ar­sen­al un­der in­ter­na­tion­al su­per­vi­sion.

“When that unity is present we man­age to achieve con­crete pos­it­ive res­ults,” Vi­taly Chur­kin, Rus­sia’s U.N. rep­res­ent­at­ive, said in a state­ment to the Se­cur­ity Coun­cil after the vote.

The Rus­si­an en­voy then singled out France, the au­thor of Thursday’s draft res­ol­u­tion.

Al­lud­ing to com­ments made by French For­eign Min­is­ter Laurent Fabi­us on more re­cent chem­ic­al-strike al­leg­a­tions, Chur­kin ac­cused the top French dip­lo­mat of ex­ploit­ing “his re­cent vis­it to Wash­ing­ton to cri­ti­cize the United States for re­fus­ing to shower mis­siles and bombs on Syr­ia last fall.”

The Rus­si­an dip­lo­mat also noted that the United States has been “re­luct­ant” to re­cog­nize the In­ter­na­tion­al Crim­in­al Court. The tribunal is based The Hag­ue, Neth­er­lands.

What We're Following See More »
In Dropout Speech, Santorum Endorses Rubio
2 days ago

As expected after earlier reports on Wednesday, Rick Santorum ended his presidential bid. But less expected: he threw his support to Marco Rubio. After noting he spoke with Rubio the day before for an hour, he said, “Someone who has a real understanding of the threat of ISIS, real understanding of the threat of fundamentalist Islam, and has experience, one of the things I wanted was someone who has experience in this area, and that’s why we decided to support Marco Rubio.” It doesn’t figure to help Rubio much in New Hampshire, but the Santorum nod could pay dividends down the road in southern states.

Rubio, Trump Question Obama’s Mosque Visit
2 days ago

President Obama’s decision to visit a mosque in Baltimore today was never going to be completely uncontroversial. And Donald Trump and Marco Rubio proved it. “Maybe he feels comfortable there,” Trump told interviewer Greta van Susteren on Fox News. “There are a lot of places he can go, and he chose a mosque.” And in New Hampshire, Rubio said of Obama, “Always pitting people against each other. Always. Look at today – he gave a speech at a mosque. Oh, you know, basically implying that America is discriminating against Muslims.”

Cruz Must Max Out on Evangelical Support through Early March
2 days ago

For Ted Cruz, a strong showing in New Hampshire would be nice, but not necessary. That’s because evangelical voters only make up 21% of the Granite State’s population. “But from the February 20 South Carolina primary through March 15, there are nine states (South Carolina, Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Kentucky, Mississippi, and North Carolina) with an estimated white-Evangelical percentage of the GOP electorate over 60 percent, and another four (Texas, Kansas, Louisiana, and Missouri) that come in over 50 percent.” But after that, he better be in the catbird’s seat, because only four smaller states remain with evangelical voter majorities.

Rubio Now Winning the ‘Endorsement Primary’
2 days ago

Since his strong third-place finish in Iowa, Marco Rubio has won endorsement by two sitting senators and two congressmen, putting him in the lead for the first time of FiveThirtyEight‘s Endorsement Tracker. “Some politicians had put early support behind Jeb Bush — he had led [their] list since August — but since January the only new endorsement he has received was from former presidential candidate Sen. Lindsey Graham.” Meanwhile, the New York Times reports that fueled by resentment, “members of the Bush and Christie campaigns have communicated about their mutual desire to halt … Rubio’s rise in the polls.”

Sanders: Obama Is a Progressive
1 days ago

“Do I think President Obama is a progressive? Yeah, I do,” said Bernie Sanders, in response to a direct question in tonight’s debate. “I think they’ve done a great job.” But Hillary Clinton wasn’t content to sit out the latest chapter in the great debate over the definition of progressivism. “In your definition, with you being the gatekeeper of progressivism, I don’t think anyone else fits that definition,” she told Sanders.