Syria, Russia, China

Even the King of Saudi Arabia seemed baffled at the recent United Nations resolution veto by UN members Russia and China.

After all, the Assad regime in Syria is not only killing its own citizens who are engaged in massive protest demonstrations across that country, it is now engaged in the indiscriminate shelling of entire cities, such as Homs, suspected of harboring those unsympathetic to the regime.

The king of Saudi Arabia inserted himself directly into the Syria crisis on Friday, castigating Russia and China for vetoing a United Nations Security Council resolution over the weekend aimed at ending the Syrian government’s deadly repression of a nearly year-old uprising.” — New York Times

In today’s airing of the Charlie Rose Show, taped last night, Charlie Rose and guest Susan Rice, US Ambassador to the UN, both commiserated over the veto votes but both agreed that China “probably would not have” vetoed the resolution had its ally Russia not done so. Their reasoning: China, casting about for alternative oil sources, has much looser ties to the Syrian regime, whereas Russia is formally allied with the Assad regime and has supplied it with tanks, armaments and ammunition which is being deployed against Syrian citizens.

In Putin’s Russia, we hear reports the state media has begun reminding Russian citizens once again that “protest” equals “terrorism.” Russia is undergoing its own more modest version of civil demonstration, against the Putin cult of power and rigged elections. Putin is anxious to contain any spread of political conflagration and to avoid unfavorable analogies to the “Arab Spring” developments.

In Sichuan Province in China, international news media report that China has completely sealed off entire counties in the region to prevent people or information from flowing in or out. Ethnic Tibetans in the province have renewed protests against repression, and three of them, so far, have set themselves on fire.

Any differences in the perceived bluntness of the two vetoing superpowers notwithstanding, it is a good time to remember that the more totalitarian the regime, the more it must of necessity fear and suppress freedom of expression.

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