Syrian Social Media Erupts in Reaction to UN Veto

Social media can be many things, and one of its most effective functions can be as a barometer for how people are reacting to a certain topic. In the case of Syrian social media users, the topic is President Bashar al-Assad and the reactions are mixed.

Social media can be many things, and one of its most effective uses can be as a barometer for how people are reacting to a certain topic. In the case of Syrian social media users, the topic is President Bashar al-Assad and the reactions are mixed.

Last week, Russia and China voted to veto a United Nations’ Security Council resolution. The resolution would have condemned Syria’s crackdown of an uprising that has attempted to overthrow the regime. The resolution received nine voters in favour from countries such as France, Germany, and Britain and had the support of the United States. The resolution also received four abstentions from South Africa, India, Brazil and Lebanon. Ban Ki-moon, Secretary General of the United Nations, is not happy about the veto, and according to UN spokesman Martin Nesirky said that “the secretary general regrets that the UN Security Council has not been able to agree and he hopes that the council will overcome the division and find a collective way to address the situation.

In reaction to the veto, Syrian social media erupted. The reactions ran the gamut of emotions from anger, to joy, to despair. Two English tweets capture some of the feelings of Syrian social media users:

@AnonmymousSyria: ”Unfortunately, after last night’s veto, we’re left without hope for civilian protection. It’s a tough position under a killer regime.”

@MalathAumran: ”As long as interests are above morality. Syria and Israel will never be condemned in the UNSC. It’s not about China and Russia. It’s about the system.

On Facebook, anti-government users were livid about the veto, and much of their anger was directed at Russia and China for making the situation worse in Syria. A Facebook page under the name “The Syrian Revolution 2011” has 293, 350 followers with an active wall where the majority of posts are in Arabic. The BBC translates a portion of one post on the Syrian Revolution 2011 Facebook page which reads: “China and Russia decided to take the side of the killers.” The statement received over 800 comments.

However, Facebook reaction to the Syrian veto was divided; Facebook also reveals support for the president and the veto. The Bashar Al-Asad page wrote that “the veto has been used only once for the benefit of the Arabs in history” and went on to thank China and Russia for their support. A user commented: “Thank you Russia, thank you China, God protect Syria and the leader of Syria, Al-Asad.”

In the blogosphere, pro-Presdiential blogs, such as Shukumaku.com posted the veto and received messages of thanks. According to the BBC, one commenter said: “We thank Russia and China for supporting the Syrian people who want reform under the leadership of President Bashar al-Assad.”

However, again, on an anti-Asad blog, posters were saying exactly the opposite. One post said: “Russia and China are socialist states, and they do not know what socialism is.”

If social media can be a barometer for a population’s reaction a particular subject matter, the case of the United Nations veto proves that opinion can vary widely and a baramoeter is not always a concensus.