Bolivia Criticizes U.S. Over Syria Strikes After Getting Called Out for Assad Support

April 7, 2017

The Bolivian ambassador to the United Nations, Sacha Sergio Llorenty Soliz, criticized the United States over its targeted military strikes on a Syrian airbase during a Security Council meeting Friday after the U.S. ambassador to the U.N., Nikki Haley, called out Bolivia for supporting the Assad regime.

Soliz held up an image of former Secretary of State Colin Powell speaking before the Security Council in 2003 to argue then-Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein was hiding weapons of mass destruction.

The ambassador then addressed the situation in Syria, quoting Bolivian President Evo Morales to say America's missile strikes on a Syrian airbase were "imperialistic."

"I'd like to repeat what was said by President Evo Morales this morning, and I quote, 'I believe and I feel, I hope I'm not mistaken, that chemical weapons in Syria are just an excuse for a military intervention. The unilateral actions are imperialistic actions. The USA is not interested in international law; they ignore it when it is inconvenient to them."

The U.S. military on Thursday night fired dozens of cruise missiles at a Syrian government airbase that Washington believes Syrian President Bashar al-Assad used to carry out Tuesday's deadly chemical weapon attack in northern Syria. The attack killed more than 100 Syrian civilians, including several children, and has drawn international outrage.

The United Kingdom's ambassador to the U.N., Matthew Rycroft, strongly backed America's actions and accused Soliz of being "more outraged at the United States than the Assad regime."

Bolivia has voiced its support for the Assad regime in the past, echoing Syrian government talking points that the Syrian leader is fighting terrorists in the country's six-year conflict.

"The United Kingdom supports the U.S. airstrike … because war crimes have consequences," Rycroft said, calling the military action "a proportionate response to unspeakable acts."

He also called Assad a "puppet dictator" whose ally Russia "sits here today humiliated by its inability to bring [the Syrian president] to heel."

Soliz's comments came after Haley denied a Bolivian request for a closed door emergency session of the Security Council to discuss the situation in Syria.

"This morning, Bolivia requested an emergency U.N. Security Council meeting to discuss the events in Syria. It asked for the discussion to be held in closed session," Haley said in a statement.

"The United States, as president of the council this month, decided the session would be held in the open," she continued. "Any country that chooses to defend the atrocities of the Syrian regime will have to do so in full public view, for all the world to hear."

Haley echoed her statement after the Security Council session when speaking to reporters.