Last Saturday, the U.N. Security Council voted on two resolutions regarding the effects of the Syrian Civil War in Aleppo, which has been a war zone since 2012. The first, led by France, entailed an immediate end to the Russian-led bombing campaign on rebel-controlled districts of the city and a ceasefire on both sides. The second, drafted by Russia in a surprise opposing move on Friday, included no provisions to an end to the bombings. Neither resolution passed – the first due to a Russian veto, the second because it lacked the minimum nine votes necessary for a Security Council resolution to pass.
While it is not unusual for Security Council resolutions to not be passed, neither faction within the Council expected another stalemate. Prior to the vote, Russian U.N. ambassador and current Security Council president Vitaly Churkin called this battle of resolutions “one of the strangest spectacles” in the Security Council, adding that the deadlock was “inadmissible.”
Not only does the decision reflect how important Aleppo has become as a U.N. point of contention, it also demonstrates how the issue has become a political battleground between the U.S. and the E.U. and Russia. Divided roughly in two halves between rebel factions and the Syrian regime since 2012, Syria’s eastern half has been besieged by Syrian government forces and Russian airstrikes since September after a truce negotiated by the U.S. and Russia fell through. Criticism from U.S. and the E.U. continues to polarize relations between these world powers, and recent events have led to a temporary halt in relations between Washington and Moscow.
Meanwhile, the five-year Syrian conflict, which has killed more than 300,000 people, forced millions more into refugee camps or internal displacement, and led to massive human-rights atrocities with no clear perpetrators, only grows increasingly violent. The splintering of rebel groups further complicates the situation for Western allies, who lack a clear sense of which side should be supported and what form that support – whether through supplying said faction or, in Russia’s case, sending military aid.
Now, while Western powers scramble to work out an agreement, aid has reached the 275,000 Syrian civilians left in the eastern part of the city in uneven distribution between the city’s districts, and activists claim that airstrikes continue to kill hundreds of civilians without cause. Without outside intervention, the conflict remains at a stalemate. No major victories on either side have been reported.