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Egypt defends backing Russian draft on Syria

Egypt’s ambassador to the UN says his country backs all efforts at stopping the tragedy in Syria

Image Credit: AFP
Russia Ambassador Vitaly Churkin is joined by Venezuelan Ambassador Rafael Ramirez as Russia vetoes a French-Spanish resolution on Syria at the UN headquarters on Saturday, in New York City. French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault on Saturday urged the UN Security Council to take immediate action to save the Syrian city of Aleppo from being destroyed by the Russia-backed Syrian bombing campaign.
Gulf News

Cairo: Egypt’s vote for a Russian draft resolution, calling for a ceasefire in Syria but ignoring devastating bombing of the embattled city of Aleppo, has sparked an online backlash.

Russia, a major ally of Syrian President Bashar Al Assad, is widely accused of involvement in an intense air campaign against rebel areas in Aleppo.

On Saturday, Egypt voted for two rival resolutions at the UN Security Council, one drafted by France and Spain, and the other by Russia.

Russia vetoed the French-Spanish resolution that called for grounding military aircraft in Aleppo and unhindered humanitarian access to besieged areas in Syria. It submitted a similar draft, but removed the part calling for an end to air strikes in Aleppo.

Only Egypt, China, Venezuela and Russia voted for Moscow’s motion that failed to gather enough votes to pass.

Egypt, a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council, shrugged off the criticism.

“Egypt backs all efforts aimed at stopping the Syrian people’s tragedy. It voted for both resolutions based on their content, not political bidding that has become a hindrance to the Security Council’s work,” Egyptian Ambassador to the UN Amr Abul Atta said.

“Egypt voted for halting deliberate targeting of Syrian civilians, backing for humanitarian access and cessation of hostilities according to relevant Security Council resolutions,” Abul Atta added, according to Egyptian official.

The Egyptian official blamed what he called “differences” among the Security Council’s permanent members for the body’s failure to take effective decisions on Syria.

Tensions have escalated between Russia and the US since a ceasefire they brokered in Syria collapsed last month.

Moscow and Washington are backing opposite sides in Syria’s conflict.

Saudi Arabia, a key ally of Cairo and a supporter of the Syrian opposition, criticised the Egyptian vote for the Russian resolution.

Saudi ambassador to the UN Abdullah Al Mouallimi described the Egyptian move as “painful”.

“Egypt needs to be reminded that it represents the Arabs at the Security Council,” well-known Saudi writer Jamal Kashoggi said on his Twitter account.

Algerian writer and rights advocate Anwar Malek was also critical.

“With this vote, Egypt officially becomes in the same trench with the regime of Bashar Al Assad,” Malek, living in Paris, said in a tweet.

Moscow has halted its flights to Egypt since a Russian plane crashed in Egypt’s Sinai in October 2015, killing all the 224 people on board. Russia said the crash was the result of a terrorist act.

The flight suspension has dealt a hard blow to Egypt’s tourism, a main source of the national income.

“Does this vote aim at courting Russia to resume flights to Egypt?” Sara, an Egyptian girl, said in a Twitter post.

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