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Syria: the fear of an unattainable peace

UN Special Representative for Syria Geir Pedersen says the country remains mired in an "unimaginable crisis" and urges the implementation of resolution 2254 as the "only political solution"
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PHOTO/AP  -   Residents walk through the destruction of the formerly rebel-held Salaheddine neighbourhood in eastern Aleppo, Syria

Bashar al-Assad's government is facing 12 years of war in Syria and a languishing horizon. The paralysis of negotiations between the government, the opposition and civil society is still present behind the shadow of UN Resolution 2254 as the only political solution. This is again the West's insistence. 

"As we move towards 2023, the Syrian people remain trapped in a humanitarian, political, military, security, economic and human rights crisis of great complexity and almost unimaginable scale," UN Special Representative for Syria Geir Pedersen told the UN Security Council. The message is stark: Syria remains trapped in an ongoing crisis while almost 70% of people are in need of humanitarian assistance.

Pedersen, together with representatives of the United States, France, the United Kingdom and Germany, called on the other partner countries to support the UN Security Council resolution as the only political way to bring stability to Damascus. Adopted in 2015, the resolution proposes a ceasefire in the country, the release of all arbitrarily detained persons, the holding of democratic elections and guarantees of a safe return for the nearly 7 million Syrian refugees. 

Reality does not betray the delegation. Pedersen states that the implementation of this resolution will not be imminent and will take time to yield results, but "nothing else can work", and the first step must be taken by the Constitutional Committee, which has not met since May 2022. 

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AFP PHOTO/HO/SYRIAN PRESIDENCY TELEGRAM PAGE - Syrian President Bashar al-Assad shakes hands with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin at the headquarters of Russian forces in Damascus.

However, the position on the conflict is a double-edged sword. The deputy director of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), Eltahir Mudawim, urges the global community's support for the resolution, stressing that the Syrian people "rightfully expect" their support, but Syria's permanent representative to the UN, Bassam Sabbagh, accuses the US and its NATO allies of inventing pretexts to intervene directly in Syria.  

According to Sabbagh, these countries also manipulated the texts of international law and the UN Charter to justify their legal military presence in the country, which threatened "the integrity and unity of the Syrian land". The solution for Sabbagh is a far cry from resolution 2254 and comes in the form of an end to the illegal foreign presence, to terrorist and separatist organisations and an end to Israeli attacks. 

And while calling for foreign withdrawal, Bashar al-Assad is opening the door to powers that prowl for his interests in the vicinity of Damascus. When Donald Trump's administration ordered the withdrawal of US troops from northern Syria, Iran, Russia and Turkey took the opportunity to further entrench their influence in the country, the same influence that now boasts of its splendour. Ankara then took advantage of its deployment to confront the Kurdish-Syrians and at the end of 2022 had its first intergovernmental meeting with Damascus since the war began in 2011.

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PHOTO/MINISTERIO DEL INTERIOR DE TURQUÍA - Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar

This added to the instability of the Syrian population itself, especially the Kurds. Amnesty International called on Syrian government forces to lift the blockade affecting civilians in the predominantly Kurdish areas of the northern Aleppo region, making it difficult for them to access fuel and other supplies. 

Despite the UN Security Council's renewal of the cross-border mechanism for the delivery of humanitarian aid for a further six months, the situation in the north of the country remains worrying. The country is witnessing how hopes for a full ceasefire and political reconstruction in Syria are fading. Instability is once again at play in the Middle East.