United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley on Wednesday challenged Russia to decide whether it stands “with the civilized world” over the bloody regime of Syrian dictator Bashar Assad.
“Now is the time Russia needs to show the world whether they genuinely want to be a part of the political process” in Syria, Haley said Wednesday morning during a U.N. Security Council meeting.
Haley called for a ceasefire in Syria, the war-torn nation embroiled in a six-year civil war that last week saw dozens of additional deaths at the hands of the Assad regime. U.S. intelligence believes the regime is responsible for a chemical weapons attack on its civilians. The U.N. ambassador also said the international world needs to see a “credible political process” that results in the Syrian people charting their own path forward.
“We need to see Russia choose to side with the civilized world over an Assad government that brutally terrorizes its own people,” Haley said. “The United States is ready to do our part. Russia, too, needs to do its part.”
Haley said Assad “mocked” Russia’s past assurances that there were no chemical weapons in Syria, compelling President Donald Trump to order the military strikes last week.
“We will not allow the use of chemical weapons to go unanswered,” she said. “We are not gonna look the other way. We are watching the regime’s actions carefully.”
Every time Assad “drops another barrel bomb on civilians” or starves “another community to death,” Haley warned, Moscow is isolating itself from the rest of the world.
“People not just in the West but across the Middle East and the world are speaking out against Assad’s brutality,” Haley said. “It is long past time for Russia to stop covering for Assad. It is long past time for Russia to push seriously for peace and not continue to be part of the problem.”
Haley also singled out Iran as Syria’s “chief accomplice,” remarking that Iranian advisers are in the ear of Assad’s soldiers giving marching orders.
“Iran is dumping fuel on the flames of this war in Syria so it can expand its own reach,” she said. “This council needs to bring attention to Iran’s barbaric acts in Syria. We need to collectively demand that Iran stop. We need to make sure Iran cannot use Syria as a base to keep terrorizing the Syrian people and the entire region.”
The Security Council, she added, needs to be serious about responding to the situation in Syria. She slammed the council’s ineffectiveness, warning that the body will become irrelevant if it fails to take action to condemn violent nations and hold them accountable.
“This council should not just say it’s for a political solution but also actively pressure the parties to prove it. That means adopting resolutions that say what we mean, resolutions that we are all willing to uphold,” she said. “So what happens next in Syria depends on what all parties choose to do.”
The Security Council is expected to vote on a draft Syria chemical weapons resolution on Wednesday afternoon, though Haley signaled that the U.S. could also act unilaterally.
“For our part, the United States will continue to use influence over any party to push for peace. We will encourage our allies to use their influence on any and all opposition groups, too,” Haley said. “We will not support a process that gives cover to Assad while he stalls for time and his forces slaughter the Syrian people. And as we showed last week, we will not stand for continued use of chemical weapons. There are actions by the Assad regime that we simply won’t tolerate.”