The Americans are the Ones Who Stopped Aid Passage; Their Aim is Striking the Syrian-Turkish Settlement
The Security Council failed earlier this July in extending the cross-border aid mechanism after expiration of UNSC Resolution 2672, which was adopted on January 9, 2023. This resolution was the last of a series of resolutions that started since adopting UNSC Resolution 2165 on July 14, 2014, according to which UN humanitarian agencies and their implementing partners “are authorized to use routes across conflict lines and the border crossings Bab al-Salam, Bab al-Hawa, Al Yarubiyah and Al-Ramtha… in order to ensure that humanitarian assistance… reaches people in need throughout Syria through the most direct routes, with notification to the Syrian authorities”.
Since then, the resolution – which came to be known as “Syria cross-border aid mechanism” – has been extended through a new Security Council resolution every time with changes that reflect the changes in conditions on the ground. In this regard, the choice of the four border crossings in the first resolution was to ensure that aid reaches all areas, those under the control of the regime and those that are not, some of which later went back to being under the regime’s control. This was reflected in subsequent resolutions by decreasing the number of the border crossings to two then to one, with increased focus on the need to expand getting aid to those in need across conflict lines.
Additionally, a year ago, when the resolution in effect at the time – UNSC Resolution 2585 (2021) – expired on July 10, 2022, the Security Council adopted Resolution 2642 on July 12, 2022. According to the latter, the resolution was extended “for a period of six months… with a further extension of addition six months”, which is what happened by adopting Resolution 2672 in the beginning of this year.
After the Security Council failed to extend the last resolution, a vicious media campaign started, focusing on that Russia, by using its veto right as a permanent member of the Security Council, obstructed getting humanitarian aid to Syrians, and that the West had made great efforts to ensure aid reaches Syrians.
What really happened?
The Security Council held a meeting on Tuesday, July 11, to discuss the cross-border aid mechanism, after UNSC Resolution 2672 expired. In past years, a draft resolution on which consensus had been previously reached after discussions among member states would be presented, or two draft resolutions would be put on the table and voting on them and both failing to pass following which a consensus is reached. In the latter case, one of the resolutions would be submitted by Russia and the other by the Western trio US-France-UK.
This year, two draft resolutions were submitted, and the only difference between them was the period, which according to the Russian draft resolution was six months and according to the Western draft resolution was nine months. The first draft resolution was supported by two member states, three opposed it, and 10 abstained; the second draft resolution was supported by 13 member states, one abstained (China), and one opposed (Russia), which led to not adopting either.
Two days after failing to extend the resolution, the Syrian government sent a letter to the UN, according to which it gave permission to use Bab al-Hawa border crossing – the one that is included in the resolution – to get humanitarian aid to northwest Syria for a period of six months, conditioned on coordinating with the Syrian government. In the letter, the Syrian government requested allowing the Red Cross and the Syrian Red Crescent to oversee facilitating and distributing humanitarian aid in these areas. This proposal was rejected and denounced by the UK and the US; additionally, the UN was concerned with the conditions that the letter included.
Later, on July 19, the UNGA held a meeting to debate the issue of the use of the veto in the Security Council, in light of the Security Council meeting on the humanitarian situation in Syria. This GA meeting was in accordance with UNGA Resolution A/RES/76/262, adopted in April 2022, which gives the President of the General Assembly the ability to “convene a formal meeting of the General Assembly within 10 working days of the casting of a veto by one or more permanent members of the Security Council, to hold a debate on the situation as to which the veto was cast”.
The President of the General Assembly said in the beginning of the meeting that relief and humanitarian aid programs should not be held hostage by any political interest. He also called on the Security Council to “be alive to the realities and oriented towards genuine solutions”, and urgently prioritize long-term cooperation over divisions, and humanitarian duty over politics. He called on everyone to work together, as collectively “we” have the power to effectuate serious change, and that Syrians depend on the UN to help them.
Essence of the issue
Before either draft resolution – the Russian and the Western ones – was presented to the Security Council, the Russians had openly and clearly informed the Westerners that they would not agree to a 9-month extension, because they are dealing with this resolution as temporary and an expression of a temporary situation. Attempts to prolong the resolution’s period is not meant to get aid to Syrians, but rather to perpetuate separation among the Syrian regions and normalizing the de facto division so that it becomes permanent.
The Westerners therefore knew when they blocked the Russian draft resolution that their 9-month draft resolution would also not pass. This clearly, and without any beating around the bush, means the following:
The Westerners, primarily the Americans, refused extending getting aid into Syria for six months based on their narrow political interests, and all their talk about their “humanitarian” endeavors is, as usual, mere lies and pretentions.
In other words, the Westerners had two possibilities: either accept six months, as they did last year, or completely stop aid, which is what they chose.
As for the political objective from that, it is very clear. Aside from the campaign of attacking Russia that serves them in the framework of the international conflict and aside from the Syrian “parrots” who repeat after the West everything it says, the main target of this within the current context is primarily the Syrian-Turkish settlement. This is because stopping aid constitutes additional pressure not only on the millions of Syrians in the northwest, but on Turkey itself as well. At the same time, stopping aid constitutes a Western meddling, through the “humanitarian” gateway, with the Astana-led process to reach understandings between Syria and Turkey.