Abdel Hameed Alyousef put his twin nine-month old babies in the ground last week. Each branch of Abdel’s extended family reportedly got its own trench to bury their dead; one family, 22 victims. Abdel held his twins in his arms. He tried to keep himself together. He tried to stop his tears. All Abdel could say before putting his twins in their final resting place was, “Say goodbye, baby, say goodbye.” Two of the smallest victims of the Assad regime’s vicious and barbaric chemical attack.
No one, anywhere in the world, should ever have to face that kind of suffering. That is why the United States, United Kingdom, and France put forward this resolution. It was a step to hold the perpetrators of this chemical attack accountable, and I thank those members who supported this effort.
But with its veto, Russia said no to accountability. Russia said no to cooperation with the UN’s independent investigation. And Russia said no to a resolution that would have helped promote peace in Syria.
Russia once again has chosen to side with Assad even as the rest of the world – including the Arab world – overwhelmingly comes together to condemn this murderous regime.
Russia said this resolution was biased and that the Assad regime was not involved. This resolution simply emphasized the information the regime is already required to provide to investigators. The UN Joint Investigative Mechanism and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons have told us many times that Assad will not provide access to investigate. We need to continue to support their role in further investigating what happened on April 4th.
If the regime is innocent, as Russia claims, the information requested in this resolution would have vindicated them.
Unfortunately, this was Russia’s eighth veto on a Syria resolution. The United States takes no pleasure in seeing Russia isolated again on the Security Council. We want to work with Russia to advance a political process for Syria. We want Russia to use its influence over the Assad regime to stop the madness and the cruelty we see every day on the ground.
Today’s vote could have been a turning point. Once more, this vote could have been the moment when Russia saw that its interests do not lie with a murderous dictator, but rather with the many countries in the international community, including those across the Middle East, that want to end this conflict. By its failure, Russia will continue to be isolated.
We urge Russia to join forces with the overwhelming number of countries that are pushing for a political solution. The international community has spoken. Russia now has a lot to prove. To Assad and the Syrian government: you have no friends in the world after your horrible actions. The United States is watching your actions very closely. The days of your arrogance and disregard of humanity are over. Your excuses will no longer be heard. I suggest you look at this vote very carefully and heed this warning. Thank you.