UN General Assembly calls for Assad to step down
It carries about as much weight as a tuft of cotton candy, but at least somebody, somewhere is taking a stand against Assad's brutality.
The U.N. General Assembly voted overwhelmingly Thursday for a resolution backing an Arab League plan calling for Syrian President Bashar Assad to step down and strongly condemning human rights violations by his regime.
The vote in the 193-member world body on the Arab-sponsored resolution was 137-12 with 17 abstentions. Several countries complained immediately afterward that they were unable to vote due to problems with the U.N.'s voting machine.
Supporters were hoping for a high "yes" vote to deliver a strong message to Assad to immediately stop the bloody crackdown that has killed over 5,400 people and hand power to his vice president. The measure had over 70 co-sponsors and won support from more than two-thirds of the General Assembly.
"Today, the U.N. General Assembly sent a clear message of the people of Syria: the world is with you," U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice said in a statement. Assad "has never been more isolated. A rapid transition to democracy in Syria has garnered the resounding support of the international community. Change must now come."
There are no vetoes in the General Assembly and while their resolutions are not legally binding, they do reflect world opinion on major issues.
The transfer of power to Syria's vice-president is part of the Arab League plan for a transitional government which was adopted on Jan. 22. It calls for the establishment of a national unity government within two months to prepare for internationally supervised parliamentary and presidential elections.
The Arab League plan won't work without the cooperation of Assad, and that will never happen. Meanwhile, the milquetoast action by the General Assembly won't change Russia or China's mind to allow the Security Council to condemn Syria.
What good is the vote? It establishes a record for the world to see. Now we know who is on the side of decency and the rule of law and who isn't. It's that simple and in those countries where their leaders are democratically elected, voters should take note.
For the rest who live under the boot of oppression, those who opposed the resolution, their people should also take note and perhaps take heart from the stand of the Syrian opposition.