Efforts to push through UN sanctions against Zimbabwe in the wake of massive abuses against those who had the courage to resist Robert Mugabe in the run-up to the June 27th presidential run-off election have failed. Here is the reason why:
Russia and China on Friday night vetoed United Nations sanctions against the Zimbabwe leadership, delivering a stinging blow to western efforts to turn the screw on President Robert Mugabe’s regime.
With their vetoes, they threw their weight behind the arguments of South Africa and a minority of council states that the political crisis should be resolved by African mediation between Mr Mugabe’s ruling Zanu-PF and the opposition.
A US-draft resolution had called for an arms embargo and travel and financial restrictions on Mr Mugabe and 13 other leaders of the regime. The resolution gained the requisite nine votes in the 15-member council but fell because two of the No votes came from veto-wielding Russia and China.
The collapse of the western-led initiative came after initial talks in South Africa between the ruling party, the opposition Movement for Democratic Change and a breakaway faction of the MDC, hosted by Thabo Mbeki, the South African president.
Sanctions, of course can be an unreliable instrument of coercion and it is an open question as to how effective sanctions will be against a regime like Mugabe’s, which is so far into the economic gutter right now as to defy belief. But they nevertheless represented an opportunity to send as strong a signal as could be sent absent the introduction of troops that the world is outraged and appalled by what is currently going on in Zimbabwe.
So much for that opportunity. I hope that the Chinese and Russian leadership classes are proud of themselves. They have likely given Mugabe every indication that the world will be forced to turn a blind eye to his depredations.