China probably has very few interests as it pertains to Syria, and would likely be more open to negotiation then Russia would IMHO. Unlike Russia, China could still use investments in energy in the Middle East and most of the countries (with the exception of Iran and some others) are passively or tacitly in support of the ouster of the Assad regime. I'm under the assumption that China is merely playing the pragmatic/neutralist game because they can, and out of a bit of lukewarm loyalty to the Russians, but mostly because they're holding out to see if they can get any concessions on the matter. If anything, of all of the Security Council members, in regards to the Syrian situation, they're the ones being the most ruthlessly pragmatic. So China probably can be persuaded to at least abstain from voting.
Russia however, it'll be near impossible. Syria and the Assad government possess the only Russian military facility beyond the United States. It allows their ships to not have to transit the Turkish Straights everytime they sail out of the Black Sea. It's their direct link to the Middle East and a legacy of their Cold War era attempts at a global presence. They have a close relationship and it'd smack of near betrayal if they voted against them in the United Nations. Which is probably why any UNSC resolution would be impossible. Russia would almost always veto it... regardless.
Also something I wanted to share from one of my old Economist articles
Has he got away with it?
President Bashar Assad seems to have won a new lease on political life
Apr 4th 2007 | Damascus |From the print edition
FOR a country painted by many as an international pariah, Syria is looking remarkably spruce. New cars jam the streets of its ancient capital, Damascus, whose once-dowdy shop windows now bulge with fancy goods, and where the price of prime property has doubled in the past two years. The economy, which grew lamely at less than 2% a year from 1999-2004, last year swelled by 5%. Energy consumption, a clearer indicator of economic activity, surged by 16 %, says a minister.
Something to smirk aboutReuters
Syria's leaders, long shunned by fellow Arabs as well as Westerners, seem suddenly back in fashion, too. President Bashar Assad's relations with the governments of neighbouring Turkey and Iraq have warmed. He has strengthened Syria's long-standing alliance with Iran, yet seems also to have reconciled with the region's rival heavyweight, Saudi Arabia. King Abdullah greeted him in person last week at the airport of Riyadh, the Saudi capital, on his arrival for an Arab summit whose next venue is to be Syria. Javier Solana, the European Union's foreign-affairs head, had soothing words for Mr Assad on a recent visit. This week, defying President Bush's ban on high-level contacts, two American congressional delegations, one led by Nancy Pelosi, the top-ranking Democrat, took the road to Damascus.
Mr Assad may even get back into the swim of Israeli-Palestinian diplomacy, from which he has been largely excluded, thanks in part to his backing of Hamas's exiled leader, Khaled Meshal, whose haven is Damascus. The resuscitated Arab League peace plan of 2002 includes a demand that Syria be given back the Golan Heights in return for peace with Israel. And there is talk within the newly-formed Arab Quartet of moderate states (Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates) that Syria should be included, partly to detach it from its ally, Iran.
In this section
Not so long ago, things looked very different. America's invasion of Iraq in 2003 added, alongside Israel's, another big, unfriendly army next door. Citing Syrian meddling in Iraq and Lebanon and accusing it of sponsoring terrorism here and there, the Americans imposed sanctions, withdrew their ambassador, threatened “hot pursuit” of alleged terrorists who sought sanctuary on Syrian soil, and began funding Syria's exiled opposition. The EU declined to ratify a free-trade agreement reached in 2004, leaving Syria the only Mediterranean state without privileged access to European markets.
Lebanon, long a reliable fief, erupted in a popular anti-Syrian revolt after the killing of its five-times prime minister, Rafik Hariri, in February 2005, forcing Syrian troops into a humiliating retreat. Worse yet, Lebanon's newly elected government lobbied the UN to investigate and try Mr Hariri's murderers; accumulating evidence pointed to Syrian complicity.
Things were not much better at home. Shrinking oil reserves, said experts, would drain Syria's main source of revenue. The loss of Iraq as a lucrative trade partner, and of relatively rich Lebanon as a sponge for Syrian unemployment, would speed a slide into bankruptcy. Mr Assad, a political novice who succeeded his feared but respected father on his death in 2000, looked ever weaker, as promised reforms failed to materialise, defectors deserted the ruling Baath party and a rising opposition chorus spoke of its impending overthrow.
The turnaround is not quite complete. Unemployment, corruption and poverty still hamper the economy. Mr Assad is still mistrusted by many of his neighbours, loathed by many politically-conscious Syrians and still risks being fingered for Mr Hariri's murder. But on a range of issues, his patience, stubbornness and absolute intolerance of dissent may be paying off.
He owes his new lease on political life to the incompetence or fatigue of his enemies, to clever diplomatic footwork and to lucky circumstances. Last year's war in Lebanon, for instance, looked as if it would seal the doom of Mr Assad's main ally there, Hizbullah. Instead, the Shia militia emerged battered but politically strengthened. Mr Assad gained from popular Arab perceptions that he had justly backed the right horse, while his Lebanese allies were emboldened to try to corner the pro-Western government in Beirut into dropping its demand for an international tribunal to bring Mr Hariri's killers to book.
Opposition to the American-led invasion of Iraq has brought dividends too. Partly due to Syria's encouragement of the Sunni insurgency at the outset (since tempered by controls on the passage of jihadists), America has burned its fingers badly and lost its enthusiasm to foment regime change elsewhere. Though Iraq's sectarian turmoil could spill over into multi-sectarian Syria, it also carries opportunities for Mr Assad.
Appalled by the mess next door, few Syrians now doubt that their own secular dictatorship is preferable to the anarchy of supposedly democratic Iraq. Yet Syria's belated recognition of Iraq's government, skilfully portrayed as a graceful bow to American pressure, has brought big rewards. Syria is fast regaining its traditional role as the gateway to rich Mesopotamia. Iraq bought some 400,000 tonnes of Syrian farm produce last year. Near Qamishli, in the north-east, a queue of Syrian lorries heading for Iraq stretches 30km (19 miles). Even the influx of 1m Iraqi refugees brings some benefits: a boom in Syrian property, plus a surge in consumer demand.
The potential gains from Iraq are even greater. Large natural-gas fields lie just across the border in Iraq: the easiest export route for Iraqi oil is through Syrian ports. Iraqi officials already speak of enlarging existing pipelines, while Syria is expanding its refining capacity in anticipation. Meanwhile, even as high world prices have maintained Syria's income despite shrinking energy exports, new discoveries of gas and oil—most recently, by British-based Gulfsands Petroleum—look set to slow the predicted decline in reserves.
But perhaps the greatest satisfaction for Mr Assad is the likelihood of his outlasting his enemies. France's President Jacques Chirac, whose pursuit of justice over the killing of Hariri, his close friend, took on the tone of a personal vendetta, will soon be gone. So too will Tony Blair. And Mr Assad could well be in power after George Bush has bowed out too.
Ahhhh how times change. It's utterly fascinating to see how rapidly political fortunes change and contemporary Syria is an excellent example. In 2005, Bashar Assad and Syria was on the outs, and then in 2007-08, they made an incredible recovery diplomatically and otherwise, and now.... the reinstatement of the Assad regime over Syria seems almost impossible in light of recent events.
And from 2005:
A suitable case for behaviour modification, not regime change
Oct 27th 2005 |From the print edition
SHORTLY after America toppled Saddam Hussein in 2003, in the brief interval when it looked as if installing a democracy in his place might be plain sailing, some members of the Bush administration pondered whether it might be a neat idea to knock over the other Baathist dictator, Syria's President Bashar Assad, as well. It is a good thing wiser counsel prevailed. Enough violence is bubbling in Iraq without throwing a second collapsed Arab state into the pot. But what if Mr Assad should start to collapse of his own accord?
A remarkably inept dictator
Whether Mr Assad is in fact on the brink of losing power is hard to say. Like Iraq's internal workings under Mr Hussein, Syria's under Mr Assad are pretty much a black box. For all any outsider can tell, Mr Assad may be able to hold on to his job for a good while longer. But since inheriting the Syria franchise from his father Hafez in 2000, the son has turned out to be a remarkably inept dictator. He has antagonised the United States by letting jihadists and other insurgents enter Iraq from his territory. And he has made an astonishing sequence of mistakes in Lebanon, which his father spent quarter of a century turning into a vassal state. At the beginning of this year, Syria was still Lebanon's master. Now its army has been forced to leave, and Syria stands accused in the United Nations Security Council of having organised or connived in the murder of Lebanon's former prime minister, the well-liked Rafik Hariri, along with 22 others, on the Beirut seafront last February.
Although nobody has yet been tried or convicted for this murder, Detlev Mehlis, the diligent German prosecutor appointed by the Security Council to undertake an independent investigation, reported this week that many leads point directly towards Syria's top security officials (see article). And Syria certainly had a motive. At a time when both France and America were pressing it to leave Lebanon, Mr Hariri refused to take the Syrian side. According to some witnesses, at a meeting in August 2004 Mr Assad threatened Mr Hariri with violence if he persisted in his obstructive ways. A month later, Mr Hariri said he would resign but made it plain that he would fight on from opposition. He was assassinated on February 14th 2005 by a sophisticated bomb attack on his convoy.
So what should now happen? The first demand of the Lebanese is that justice should be done. And though this will be difficult, there is a half-successful precedent.
Four years ago, a Scottish court sitting in the Netherlands convicted a Libyan intelligence agent of planting the bomb that destroyed an American airliner over the Scottish town of Lockerbie in 1988 and killed 270 people. Libya's Muammar Qaddafi was persuaded to hand over the two suspects (one was acquitted) after the Security Council imposed sanctions. Mr Qaddafi insisted on his innocence but paid compensation to the victims' relatives. Whether he gave the order himself was never resolved. He was left in peace—though out in the cold—until buying a sort of respectability by admitting to and dismantling a secret nuclear-bomb programme in 2003.
To many of the Lockerbie victims' relatives, the jailing of an underling seemed scant justice in what always looked like a mass murder ordered from the top. In Lebanon, likewise, many people will feel let down if senior members of the Syrian regime identified by Mr Mehlis are allowed to escape justice. Whoever is brought to trial, the suspicion is bound to linger that the murder required the approval of Mr Assad himself. And even if he were willing to hand over his brother and brother-in-law, both of them implicated though not yet named as suspects, he is hardly likely to submit himself for trial. So if Mr Assad himself gave the order, perfect justice cannot be done while he remains in command of Syria.
Given that even a not very good dictator is a bad thing, should America and France, which took the lead in squeezing Syria's army out of Lebanon, now engineer the downfall of the regime itself? That would be a gamble. Mr Assad has purged his country of an effective opposition. It is therefore impossible to know who might take his place if he fell. A clone might emerge from his inner circle, or Syria could be convulsed by a Sunni revolt against the Assads' minority Alawite clan. In neither case would the Syrian people or their neighbours necessarily benefit. Syria, after all, is not the republic of fear Iraq was under Mr Hussein. Unlike his father (who had some 20,000 people, mostly civilians, slaughtered in the city of Hama in 1982), the younger Mr Assad has not been a mass-murderer, even if he orders the occasional assassination.
Better to use Mr Assad's present weakness as an opportunity to change Syria's behaviour, not its regime. In particular, Syria should be made to stop interfering in Lebanon, which its proxies continue to intimidate even though its army has withdrawn; end its support for the Iraqi insurgency; and close the offices of the Palestinian rejectionist organisations that use Damascus as a base from which to organise attacks on Israel and undermine the Palestinian Authority of Mahmoud Abbas.
Bring on the Russians
In the Security Council this week, the Russians gave a frosty response to a draft resolution from America, France and Britain that would empower Mr Mehlis to complete his investigation and pave the way for sanctions if Syria refuses to co-operate. The Arab League also said it opposed sanctions—for now. But this may not, and should not, be the last word.
Although Syria was a Soviet protégé, and has friends in its foreign ministry, Russia's president, Vladimir Putin, may come to see the folly of protecting a dictator who repels the many Arabs who are tired of their leaders behaving like mafia bosses. To bring Mr Putin on board, however, America would be well advised to pipe down and let France, whose president was a friend of Mr Hariri's, make the running in the Security Council. If the Syrian regime collapses of its own accord, or at the hand of its own people, so be it. But the world has no appetite for more American-led regime change. Loose talk about that will do more to help than to hurt the deservedly friendless Mr Assad.