Last updated: 8 March, 2013

Syria thanks BRICS for support against West

A top Syrian regime official thanked the BRICS group of emerging powers on Friday for its support, which she said had prevented Western military intervention and the “destruction” of the country.

Bouthaina Shaaban, a cabinet-level adviser to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, told reporters in New Delhi that Damascus was grateful to the BRICS countries of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

“Thank God there is Russia and China and India and Brazil in the BRICS countries who at least are introducing reason into what is happening in the international community because otherwise we would have faced what Libya has faced,” she said.

Shabaan, who met with the Indian Foreign Minister Salman Khurshid, is touring the capitals of the BRICS bloc in a bid to marshal support for the Syrian president.

“We are grateful for their (the BRICS’) balanced stand and for their support but I think they could be more proactive in finding a solution for Syria,” she said.

“We would like you to be more vocal, to come out more strongly in support of stopping violence. I think the BRICS countries carry more weight than they are showing so far… and I think they can do more,” she said.

Russia and China — both of which wield vetoes on the UN Security Council — have stridently opposed using force or outside intervention to resolve the Syrian crisis, frustrating the United States and its allies.

Moscow is upset with Washington’s decision to step up its non-military support for the armed rebels, and continues to resist calls for Assad to step down before talks between the government and the opposition can get under way.

Syrian envoy Shabaan launched a blistering attack on diplomatic efforts to hasten Assad’s departure and said “those countries who ask President Assad to leave, they are the ones who want the destruction of Syria”.

The UN estimates that more than 70,000 people have been killed since the start of Syria’s uprising in March 2011 and said this week that about one million had fled the country to escape the violence.

In Libya, Western forces operating with a UN mandate launched air strikes on the regime of Moamer Kadhafi in 2011, helping rebel forces bring an end to his 42 years of rule.