Veto highlights the growing divide between Washington and its European allies, as well as Arab countries, who have refused to commit to taking back foreign fighters since allied forces crushed Daesh over a year ago.
The United States has vetoed a United Nations Security Council resolution on the fate of thousands of foreign fighters and their families being held in Syria and Iraq.
The other 14 members of the Security Council supported the resolution that encouraged countries to prosecute, rehabilitate and then reintegrate into society their nationals who had engaged in terrorism-related activities.
But the United States refused to support the resolution because it did not demand countries actively repatriate foreign fighters who travelled to the Middle East to join Al Qaeda and the Daesh.
Growing division between allies
The US veto highlighted the growing divide between Washington and its European allies, as well as Arab countries, who have refused to commit to taking back foreign fighters since allied forces crushed Daesh over a year ago.
Washington, whose insistence on including the word "repatriation" in the text was originally backed by Moscow, has long pressed the idea of repatriating foreign fighters detained in Syria and Iraq.
"The Indonesian resolution before us, supposedly designed to reinforce international action on counterterrorism, was worse than no resolution at all," said US UN Ambassador Kelly Craft.
"It fails to even include reference to the crucial first step – repatriation to countries of origin or nationality," she said.
Thousands of foreign fighters and their families remain in prison camps in Syria and Iraq as countries resist taking them back.
Some European countries, including France and Belgium, have adopted a case-by-case approach to repatriating the children or even wives of fighters held in the Middle East.
But mostly the other countries have preferred that their nationals stand trial and face punishment in the countries where their crimes were committed, putting the responsibility mainly on Iraq to deal with them.
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Divided in fight against terrorism
Because of the Covid-19 pandemic, members of the Security Council voted by email and the results were announced by the current council president, Indonesia’s UN Ambassador Dian Triansyah Djani, whose country sponsored the resolution.
The US veto was a blow to Indonesia which had made the text one of the priorities of its presidency of the Security Council this month.
Djani expressed regret that the resolution wasn't adopted, saying “it sends a signal that the council is not united in the fight against terrorism, and certainly I regret that this happened,” he said.
Another diplomat, insisting on anonymity, said the use of the veto by the US had "become very cheap," adding that it was "very damaging" to cross-Atlantic relations.
Earlier this month, the Europeans rejected a US draft resolution that aimed to extend an arms embargo on Iran, as part of a US effort to re-establish international sanctions on Tehran.
Last week, during a debate on counter-terrorism, Craft slammed the Europeans for "putting their head in the sand" when facing the "serious threat" posed by foreign fighters, just as she said they were doing with Iran.