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Syria and Algeria the only Mediterranean countries not to vote against the Russian invasion of Ukraine

Written by Frédéric Dubessy on Thursday, March 3rd 2022 à 15:55 | Read 817 times

By an overwhelming majority, the members of the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution against the Russian aggression in Ukraine (photo: Onu/Loey Felipe)
By an overwhelming majority, the members of the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution against the Russian aggression in Ukraine (photo: Onu/Loey Felipe)
SYRIA / ALGERIA. During its eleventh emergency special session, the United Nations General Assembly adopted on Wednesday 2 March 2022 by an overwhelming majority a resolution to denounce the Russian aggression in Ukraine that began on 24 February 2022. It "reaffirms its commitment to the sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity of Ukraine within its internationally recognised borders, extending to its territorial waters".

This vote came a few days after a draft Security Council resolution on the same terms was rejected on Friday 25 February 2022 because of the veto of Russia, one of the five permanent members of this institution. Of the 15 members of the Council, 11 countries voted in favour and three abstained (China, India, United Arab Emirates).

The General Assembly, where the right of veto does not exist, was inspired by this draft in the drafting of its own resolution. The text received 141 votes in favour, 5 against (Russia, Belarus, Eritrea, North Korea and therefore Syria) and 35 abstentions. It required a two-thirds majority to be adopted. The non-binding resolution demands that Russia immediately, completely and unconditionally withdraw all its military forces from Ukrainian territory.

Syria and Algeria vote against

Syria and Algeria were the only Mediterranean states to mark their difference on the international quasi-consensus around this resolution. The former voted against. The latter abstained.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad was strongly supported militarily by Moscow, starting in 2015, during the civil war. His ally has simply allowed him to retain power. He analysed, on Friday 25 February 2022, the Russian intervention as "a correction of history and a restoration of the balance of the international order after the fall of the Soviet Union." Bashar al-Assad also said, "Syria stands by Russia, being convinced of the rightness of its position" and said "facing Nato's expansion is a right for Russia (...) Western nations are responsible for chaos and bloodshed."

Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune, for his part, is trying to maintain a neutrality in this conflict. Already in 2014, when Russia annexed Crimea, Algeria was not sure how to position itself. Algiers is a long-standing ally of Russia, which supplies it with most of its armaments, and Ukraine is also a strategic partner for sensitive equipment from its military-industrial complex inherited from the USSR.
As one of the world's five largest importers of cereals, Algeria also fears for its supplies in this sector. Even if Abdelmadjid Tebboune announced, at the end of January 2022, that he wanted to double the national production of cereals to reduce imports. Russia and Ukraine are its main suppliers, these two countries controlling a large part of the world production of wheat and corn.
On the other hand, Sonatrach, the state-owned hydrocarbon company, has indicated that it is ready to increase its gas supplies to Europe while supplies from Russia are under threat.
Syria, Morocco and Algeria stand out in the vote on the UN resolution against Russian aggression in Ukraine (map: UN)
Syria, Morocco and Algeria stand out in the vote on the UN resolution against Russian aggression in Ukraine (map: UN)

​Morocco prefers not to participate

As for Morocco, it simply did not take part in the vote, like eleven other countries, without providing any convincing explanation for this choice. According to a press release from the Moroccan Ministry of Foreign Affairs, "Morocco's non-participation cannot be interpreted in any way with regard to its position of principle concerning the situation between the Russian Federation and Ukraine. It states that "the Kingdom of Morocco reaffirms its strong attachment to respect for the territorial integrity, sovereignty and national unity of all the Member States of the United Nations" and that "the members of the organisation have a duty to settle their disputes by peaceful means and in accordance with the principles of international law, in order to preserve world peace and security".

Fears that Egypt would not join the resolution led the European Union (EU) and the G7 (a group of seven of the world's ten most industrialised countries: Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States) to formally ask Cairo to condemn Russia's military operation in Ukraine on the same day as the vote. "Russia's attempt to destabilise the international order will also have repercussions for the Middle East and Africa, including Egypt," said a joint G7-EU statement. It also called for Egypt's "consistent foreign policy stance", saying that "since the era of President Abdel Nasser (1956-1970), Egypt has adhered to and supported the principle of non-interference in internal affairs as a foundation for the modern international order". According to the G7, "Egypt strongly believes in the importance of the United Nations, so Egypt is considered a strong supporter of the principles of the UN Charter (...). Egyptians know the value of diplomacy and dialogue, and they know how to stand up for the rights of others. Cairo voted for the resolution."

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