The situation in the Middle East- Security Council, 8805th meeting

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25-Jun-2021 02:42:27
Amid little forward movement, warring parties in Syria must take concrete steps on potential common ground issues, Special Envoy says.

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Permanent Representative Rejects Occupation, Terrorism, Sanctions Imposed on Damascus, ‘Glossed Over’ by Certain Countries

The plight of detainees, establishing a nationwide ceasefire, countering terrorism and embarking on economic recovery are among the several areas where the warring parties in Syria may find common ground, the United Nations mediator for that country told the Security Council today.

Geir Pedersen, the United Nations Special Envoy for Syria, described those issues as ones “where mutual and reciprocal actions could begin to make a positive difference for Syrians, and give impetus to a political process”, in his monthly briefing to the 15-member Council.

He said all sides stand to benefit from progress on the issue of detainees, abductees and missing persons, as it would ease tension and help build trust. A nationwide truce should also become a common cause, as the current patchwork of regional de-escalation and ceasefire agreements — in which the Russian Federation, Turkey and the United States are key players — could easily unravel.

Key international players can and should cooperate on countering terrorist groups designated as such by the Council, he continued, pointing to worrying signs that Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh) may be strengthening and noting that other listed groups remain at large. He went on to cite recovery from the economic impact of a decade-long war as another area of potential cooperation, cautioning that the convergence of economic and humanitarian crises will have dramatic consequences if not addressed.

Also briefing members was Abeer Hussein, a member of Syrian Women’s Political Movement, who said that hope for a sustainable Syrian future lies in galvanizing a true political solution and supporting the country’s stability, security and reconstruction. “Then we won’t need international aid to survive,” she said. Emphasizing that women residing inside Syria are strong and do not entertain the pity they are subject to, she said they have chosen to stay in Syria because they believe in greater opportunities to create change in their communities.

Recalling the presidential election held in May — which she described as a “fraud” — she said they did not include all Syrians at home and abroad, and ignored the road map for a political solution which provided for the completion of a new Constitution and elections under the supervision of the United Nations. She noted that Syria was the first Arab country to grant women the right to vote in 1949, voicing regret that women’s political participation has declined over the years.

In the ensuing discussion, Syria’s representative denounced those claims, recalling that President Bashar al-Assad obtained 95.1 per cent of valid votes after 79 per cent of 18 million eligible voters cast their ballots. He said the election results demonstrated the Syrian people’s support of their leadership and their rejection of occupation practices, terrorism and sanctions that are still being defended and glossed over with deceptive slogans by some countries, both within the Council and beyond.

Several speakers expressed regret over the lack of progress on the political track, with Mexico’s delegate warning that 20 months have elapsed since the Constitutional Committee first met, without meaningful progress. He went on to urge its delegations — particularly those appointed by the Syrian Government — to participate constructively in negotiations. Without dialogue, it will be impossible to reflect points of common interest in the next Syrian Constitution, he said.

The representative of the United States said resolution 2254  (2015) remains the only path to a just, sustainable political solution to the Syrian conflict, “which is decidedly not what happened during the so-called election in May”. That election, she said, was not free or fair, nor did it include those displaced in Syria or across the region. “It was a sham, plain and simple,” she stressed, calling for elections in Syria that include a diverse range of candidates in a safe voting environment, with meaningful participation by displaced people. In that context, she said her country will not normalize any support or reconstruction aid that benefits the current Syrian regime, absent political progress.

On that point, China’s representative struck a different note, urging countries to resume their development assistance to a country still deeply mired in economic and humanitarian distress. He encouraged them to avoid linking such aid to a political solution, while also rejecting the imposition of unilateral sanctions and any attempts to change Syria’s Government.

For his part, the representative of Kenya described the reality of the situation in Syria as “an indictment of multilateralism”, particularly in the Security Council, whose primary mandate is the maintenance of international peace and security. “It is simply not right for external Powers to pursue their competing and perhaps irreconcilable interests on Syrian territory” at the expense of the country and its people, she stressed.

Also speaking today were the representatives of the United Kingdom, Viet Nam, Norway, Niger, India, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, France, Ireland, Tunisia, the Russian Federation, Estonia, Turkey and Iran.

The meeting began at 10:02 a.m. and ended at 12:15 p.m.
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