By Louis Charbonneau
UNITED NATIONS, Feb 4 (Reuters) - Russia and China joined forces in a double veto on Saturday to knock down a Western-Arab U.N. Security Council resolution backing an Arab League plan for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to step aside.
The other 13 council members voted in favor of the resolution, which would have said that the council "fully supports" the Arab League plan aimed at ending 11 months of bloodshed as Syria has sought to crush an anti-Assad uprising.
Mohammed Loulichki, the U.N. ambassador of Morocco, the sole Arab member of the 15-nation council, voiced his "great regret and disappointment" that Moscow and Beijing struck down the resolution.
Dropping the usual diplomatic courtesies, U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice said she was "disgusted" by the Russian and Chinese veto, adding that "any further bloodshed that flows will be on their (Russia's and China's) hands."
French Ambassador Gerard Araud told the council, "It is a sad day for this council, a sad day for all Syrians, and a sad day for democracy." He said Moscow and Beijing were now "complicit in the policy of repression" of Damascus.
This is the second time that permanent members Russia and China have exercised a double veto on the Syria issue. In October, they vetoed a European-drafted resolution condemning Syria and threatening it with possible sanctions.
Diplomats said China had been expected to follow Russia's lead and the decision to veto the text came from Moscow. Russia had complained that the draft resolution was an attempt at "regime change" in Syria, Moscow's close ally and a key Russian weapons export destination.
Russia's decision to vote against the resolution came after U.S. and European officials rejected a series of Russian amendments to the draft resolution that Rice said were "unacceptable."
Prior to the vote, several Western diplomats said that if Russia vetoed the resolution, it would be a sign of what they referred to as the "re-Putinization" of Russian foreign policy - referring to expectations that Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin will return to the presidency after this year's elections.
The changes proposed by Russia, seen by Reuters, would have introduced language assigning blame to Syria's opposition, as well as the government, for violence in which the United Nations says more than 5,000 people have died.
Western nations reject the idea of equal blame, saying the government is mainly responsible.
Russia had also insisted on dropping a demand that the Syrian government withdraw its security forces from cities, but U.S. and European delegations refuse to include that change.
(Additional reporting by Louis Charbonneau; Editing by Vicki Allen)
The bolded part is what left me in stitches. The US has vetoed just about every UN resolution denouncing Israeli atrocities, which include burning civilians alive with WP, ethnic cleansing, armed blockades, torture -in other words, the same things the US accuses Assad of doing in Syria (except the white phosphorous: Assad is old-fashioned and prefers shooting and beating his victims to death). Susan Rice is right, only not in the way she thinks she is. Failure to so much as censure a client state for brutality means the sponsoring government has blood on its hands. What she is too stupid and/or too dishonest to realize is that by her own standard, she and others in the State Department have an entire lake of blood on their own hands.
Shorter Susan Rice: How dare the Russians and Chinese back a client state that massacres Arabs -that's reserved for the USA!