The Situation in the Middle East- Security Council, 9204th Meeting

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29-Nov-2022 02:01:17
Uptick in violence threatens three years of relative calm in Syria, Special Envoy tells Security Council, calling for de-escalation.

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(p)Worrying and dangerous developments in Syria risk triggering a military escalation that would threaten nearly three years of relative calm, the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Syria told the Security Council today, calling on all parties to de-escalate immediately and to focus on the stalled political process instead.(/p)

(p)Geir O. Pedersen noted in particular a slow increase in fighting between the Syrian Democratic Forces on the one side, and Türkiye and armed opposition groups on the other, across northern Syria, with violence spilling over into Turkish territory. nbsp;Recalling the Secretary-General’s plea for all parties to exercise maximum restraint and avoid escalation, he said that more violence will spell more harm for Syrian civilians and endanger regional stability — with listed terrorist groups taking advantage of fresh instability.(/p)

(p)On the political process, he looked forward to further engagement with the Government and the Syrian Negotiation Commission during a visit to Damascus next week, as part of his ongoing step-for-step confidence-building efforts to advance Council resolution  2254 (2015). nbsp;He expressed concern, however, that the Constitutional Committee has not met for six months. nbsp;The longer it remains dormant, the harder it will be for it to resume its work, he said, adding that the absence of a credible political process only promotes further conflict and instability.(/p)

(p)“We are at something of a fork in the road,” he went on, calling for all parties to step back from escalation as well as a renewal of the humanitarian framework and a resumption of Constitutional Committee meetings. nbsp;He also appealed for prioritized efforts on detained, disappeared and missing persons as well as for more profound work on confidence-building measures.(/p)

(p)Martin Griffiths, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, said that 12 years since the conflict began, 80 per cent of Syria’s popular depend on humanitarian assistance. nbsp;“The trend is clear: nbsp;more people need our support each year to survive,” he said, warning that the number of people requiring such aid is expected to surpass 15 million in 2023, up from 14.6 million this year. nbsp;Summarizing some of the most recent incidents of violence and instability, he said all sides must take care to spare civilians during their military operations. nbsp;Emphasizing the ongoing water crisis in northern Syria and the spread of cholera, he added that Syrians are struggling to put food on the table, particularly given the country’s dependence on increasingly expensive food imports.(/p)

(p)Against this backdrop, he stressed that cross-border humanitarian operations, in addition to cross-line deliveries within Syria, remain essential for the lives of more than 4 million people in the north-west. nbsp;Recalling that the Council’s authorization of cross-border assistance is set to expire in six weeks, he said that Syrians want the need for outside assistance to disappear and for peace to return.(/p)

(p)In the ensuing debate, many Council members expressed alarm at the escalation of hostilities and called on all parties to exercise maximum restraint and honour ceasefire agreements. nbsp;Several speakers also called for renewed progress on the political track.(/p)

(p)Norway’s representative, speaking also on behalf of Ireland in their capacity as co-penholders of the Syria humanitarian file, stressed the need to renew the humanitarian cross-border mechanism, saying that it remains a critical lifeline for Syrians in the north-west as winter sets in. nbsp;The Council must follow up on resolution nbsp;2642 (2022) in good faith and extend the cross-border mechanism, she said.(/p)

(p)The United Kingdom’s representative, in the same vein, said that with 14.6  million Syrians in need of humanitarian aid, nothing can replace the scope or scale of the cross-border humanitarian operation. nbsp;She added that the deteriorating humanitarian situation is not the result of sanctions, which do not apply to humanitarian efforts but rather target those who are involved in repressing civilians.(/p)

(p)Kenya’s delegate, also speaking for Gabon and Ghana, stressed the need for a political solution, emphasizing that military options will not yield sustainable solutions. nbsp;Resolution 2254 (2015) remains the road map for achieving an outcome that accounts for the widest spectrum of Syrians, he said.(/p)

(p)The United States’ representative took note of the Special Envoy’s efforts to reconvene the Constitutional Committee to advance work towards a political solution. nbsp;One would hope that the Russian Federation shares that goal, but its obstructive actions suggest the contrary, she said, calling on the Government of Syria to engage in good faith in that Committee.nbsp;(/p)

(p)The Russian Federation’s representative said that suffocating unilateral sanctions are being compounded by the plundering of Syria’s natural resources and by insufficient international assistance. nbsp;Unilateral sanctions are a topic that Western countries attempt to avoid “by hook or by crook”, he said, adding that it would be a great omission if the Secretary-General’s upcoming report on Syria fails to mention the problems that sanctions create.(/p)

(p)Syria’s delegate called on the Council to compel Türkiye to end its military presence in Syria, alongside an immediate withdrawal of United States forces in the north. nbsp;The Council’s silence on Israel’s occupation of the Syrian Golan emboldens that country to expand its attacks on Syrian territory, he added. nbsp;On the political front, he said that Damascus is continuing its engagement to settle the crisis without foreign interference, and that the Special Envoy must play his role as facilitator in line with his mandate. nbsp;He went on to say that Western countries must stop politicizing humanitarian work, honour their pledges and support early recovery projects.(/p)

(p)Türkiye’s representative, recalling that the People's Protection Units/Kurdistan Workers’ Party (YPG/PKK) is a threat to national security, said that no State can tolerate deliberate attacks on its people or territory. nbsp;His country will therefore carry out counter-terrorism operations, in line with the United Nations Charter and relevant Council resolutions.(/p)

(p)Also speaking today were the representatives of India, Brazil, Albania, Mexico, France, China, Ireland, United Arab Emirates and Iran.(/p)

(p)The meeting began at 10:03 a.m. and ended at 12:04 p.m.(/p)
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