REPORTING FROM BEIRUT -- The collapse of U.N. efforts to resolve the crisis in Syria has angered many Syrians, both inside the country and abroad. Some have focused their fury on Russia and China. The two superpowers jointly vetoed a U.N. Security Council resolution that would have thrown the United Nations' weight behind an Arab League plan calling on President Bahsar Assad to relinquish power.
“I believe that there was a chance for real diplomatic, political pressure to stop the violence in Syria, and Russia is directly responsible for the failure,” said a disappointed Yara Nseir, 30, an opposition activist in Beirut.
She was among dozens of protesters Sunday in front of the Russian Embassy in the Lebanese capital. Messages went out on Facebook calling on Syrians worldwide to hold protests outside the embassies of Russia and China.
“Both Russia and China need to understand that their interests are with the Syrian people, not with a regime that is falling,” Nseir said. “The people will remember who was a partner in their slaughter.”
At least 5,000 people have died in Syria since protests against the government erupted last March, according to the United Nations.
The Syrian government rejected the U.N. resolution as interference in the country’s internal affairs and a blueprint for foreign intervention. Assad still has considerable support in Syria, especially from minorities and others fearing that the nation could be sliding toward civil war. Pro-Assad rallies in Syria regularly feature people chanting pro-Russian slogans, in appreciation of Moscow's efforts.
In Nseir’s view, the opposition needs to do more to win over the many Syrians who are fed up with Assad's rule but don’t participate in street protests.
“The Syrian street is not engaged fully,” Nseir said, noting, for instance, that merchants in the two main cities, Damascus and Aleppo, have largely stayed on the sidelines. “The middle and upper classes haven’t joined the revolution.”
Syrians are using social networks to call for boycotts of Chinese and Russian goods. On Facebook, some Syrian opposition activists have taken the view that the U.N. veto could have a potential upside: more unity among Syrians.
“We started out on our own and we will remain alone,” wrote one activist.
-- Rima Marrouch