Sanctions, suspensions, monitors: The international community has been trying to find a diplomatic solution to the Syrian crisis for almost a year.
In May, the European Union placed sanctions on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and nine other senior members of his government.
As violence escalated over the following five months, a European-backed resolution condemning Syria – but lacking sanctions – was put before the U.N. Security Council in October. But permanent Security Council members Russia and China vetoed that resolution.
In November, the Arab League got involved, signaling its unhappiness with Syria by suspending its membership in the group.
On December 19, Syria signed an accord with the Arab League, saying it would withdraw armed forces from residential areas and let observers into the country. That same day, a vote in the U.N. General Assembly condemned the security crackdown.
On Saturday, the Arab League suspended its mission to monitor whether al-Assad was abiding by an agreement to end the crackdown, which reportedly has left thousands of civilians dead.
This week, the U.N. Security Council is considering another resolution that calls for al-Assad to transfer power. The draft resolution also demands the government end the violence, pull back its heavy weaponry from residential areas, allow monitors to operate freely, release political prisoners and allow the news media to operate.
"It is primarily a straightforward condemnation of what has transpired, a call upon the government of Syria to adhere to the commitments it made," Susan Rice, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, said about the draft. She noted that it contains no sanctions nor does it threaten the use of force.
Russia – which maintains trade relations with Syria – has proposed its own draft U.N. resolution that assigns equal blame for the violence on both al-Assad and the opposition.
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