Syria: the Security Council in flux

It now looks like the Security Council will vote on a (still too weak) resolution demanding the end of the Syrian crackdown today or tomorrow.  Russia is still bad-mouthing the proposal, drafted by the Council’s European members, but other powers are lining up to back it.  Brazil – previously numbered among opponents of a resolution along with China, India and South Africa – looks like it’s on board:

In a joint statement issued the same day European nations were to seek a vote on a UN Security Council resolution condemning Syria’s crackdown on protests, EU leaders and visiting Brazilian President Dilma Roussef said the two sides “expressed grave concern” at the current situation in Syria.

“They agreed on the need to continue urging the Syrian authorities to put an end to the violence and to initiate a peaceful transition to democracy.”

The well-informed David Bosco predicts that India and South Africa will also vote for the resolution, although the Indians were fighting a rearguard action against it last week.  He thinks that China and, in the end, Russia will abstain.  Meanwhile, Turkey is giving the resolution full support from outside the Council:

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan voiced support for the proposed UN resolution and said he would soon announce sanctions on the neighbouring country.

“The draft resolution before the council today is in the nature of sending a warning. We hope there will a positive outcome of this vote and that there will then be further discussions about whatever further steps need to be taken,” Erdogan told a news conference during a visit to South Africa.

The political picture could change again before the vote, and it can’t be repeated too often that the EU’s resolution has been watered down a lot , with a threat of sanctions reduced to near-invisibility.  But I think that this episode underlines the point Franziska Brantner and I made in our recent update on human rights and the UN for ECFR: many non-Western powers, especially rising powers like Brazil, want to distance themselves from Russia’s obstructionism in UN debates.  Even China is ready to step away from the Russians, as it did over Côte d’Ivoire.   As we noted in our paper, and I repeated here last week, this opens up the EU’s options for coalition-building in New York.  It looks like the EU is finally finding ways to use those options…