Tag Archives: Syria

Borrell on situation in Idlib

“The war in Syria is now in its ninth year. The most severe humanitarian catastrophe and security crisis is unfolding right now in the northwest of the country. In other parts of Syria we continue to see instability and dramatic human suffering.

“Last Thursday we heard the United Nations Special Envoy [Geir] Pedersen and the Head of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs [OCHA] Mark Lowcock briefing the UN Security Council on the situation in Idlib. They described how regime forces, aided by Russia and Iran, are launching heavy military offensives with no regard for the civilian population or civilian infrastructure. “We appear to have lost sight of the principle of proportionality”, United Nations Special Envoy [Pedersen] said.

“The intensification of military operations in Idlib has resulted in the indiscriminate killings of hundreds of civilians. Attacks continue on civilian targets in densely populated areas, medical facilities and settlements for internally displaced people. These are blatant and serious violations of international humanitarian law. There has to be accountability for those responsible.

“Since military operations began in Idlib in February 2019, one year ago, more than 1 million people have been displaced towards Turkey. We are talking about one million displaced people in one year. Every day more Syrians are fleeing the fighting and another wave of refugees is quite possibly in the making.

“We also see clashes between the Syrian regime and Turkish forces, plus the risk of Turkish and Russian militaries confronting each other. These tensions could in turn trigger a wider regional conflict. The ceasefire agreed between Ankara and Moscow must be implemented.

“This is the situation. Now, let me say this. After almost a decade of violence, the suffering of the Syrian people at the hands of the regime and its backers must cease. Too many people have died, and those that are alive face a bleak future.

“The EU has major stakes in Syria and in the surrounding region. We cannot afford more regional instability and another migrant crisis. We must avoid a resurgence of Da’esh and other terrorist organisations at Europe’s doorstep. The EU has a duty to preserve the rules based international order including the legitimacy of the United Nations Security Council. Yes, I know, we say that once again and we have to continue saying that.

“Recent military gains by the Syrian regime are not translating into stability, on the contrary. The Syrian regime will not bring peace and stability to Syria if it continues to pursue a military logic and the repression of its people. The economic situation is deteriorating rapidly, exacerbated by the banking crisis in Lebanon. The regime must change its behaviour.

“[Honourable] Members of the European Parliament, we have stated from the very beginning that only a comprehensive and inclusive political solution in line with United Nations Security Council Resolution 2254 will allow sustainable peace and stability in Syria and the region.

“The European Union will continue to support the efforts of the United Nations Special Envoy Pedersen in relaunching the Constitutional Committee in Geneva. We also need to focus on other parts of this resolution [UNSCR 2254] such as a nationwide ceasefire, the release of detainees and getting progress on the file of missing persons.

“Let’s recall that the European Union is and remains the largest humanitarian donor in relation to crisis in Syria and to its people, both inside [Syria] and to Syrian refugees and host communities in neighbouring countries. We are supporting the resilience of ordinary civilians and civil society to maintain the social fabric of Syrian society.

“We are convinced that our support is a fundamental investment – it is not an expenditure it is an investment – in the future of Syria and the region which is part of our future. And as a partner in the Global Coalition to defeat Da’esh, the EU is conducting stabilisation projects in the north east of Syria.

“We are always prepared to do more on all these lines of action, within the limits of our common redlines. These are: no normalisation with the regime; no risking of our funding being diverted to the regime or to terrorists, and no reconstruction before a political process is firmly under way. Syria: Speech by HR/VP Josep Borrell in the EP on the current security situation in Syria, on February 12.

“Honourable members, we will continue to apply European Union sanctions targeting individuals and entities associated with the regime and responsible for its repressive and inhuman policies, and not the Syrian people.

“As I said before: the conflict in Syria is a geopolitical struggle. The European Union has a responsibility to lead, for the sake of the Syrian people and to protect our own interests. While difficult, we must redouble our efforts to identify common interests with other international stakeholders, Russia, U.S., Turkey and others.

“Maybe I will have the occasion to update you on our discussions in Washington about this issue. ” Strasbourg, European Parliament Plenary, Syria: Speech by High Representative Josep Borrell in the EP on the current security situation in Syria.

MAVRIDES: Erdogan supports jihadists in Idlib

During February Plenary the Members of European Parliament discussed the crisis in Idlib, reacting upon aggravated hostilités between Syrian Army and groups of Islamist fighers, backed by Turkey. The ongoing shelling caused a new ordeal for civilians in de-escalation zone in Idlib, agreed between Ankara and Moscow (2018) to protect refugees and prevent the flow of refugees north to Turkey.

Over 140,000 Syrians have been displaced in just three days under the offensive in the north-west of the country.

Accroding to Astana agreement Turkey was supposed to separate the armed opposition, ready for dialogue within the framework of the Syrian political process, from the militants of Khayyat Tahrir al-Sham (or Hetech, active Salafist jihadist militant group, organised as a result of fusion of six smaller ones). At the same time, the terrorists had to leave Idlib, and the pro-Turkish moderate opposition – to stay, but to withdraw all heavy weapons from the province. In fact, by the beginning of 2019, the Khayyat Tahrir Al-Sham Islamist group had established full control over the territory of Idlib. Provided by weapons and resources from Turkish territory, the fighters started to undertake raids outside the demilitarized zone, to bombard the nearest cities (for example, Aleppo), and to threaten the Russian military base Khmeimim.

Syria’s government, backed by Russia, has launched an offensive on Idlib province and southern and western Aleppo, the last stronghold jihadist armed groups.

Reacting upon the situation in Idlib, the chair of the Delegation to Mediterranean MEP Costas MAVRIDES underlined the necessity to continue eliminating terrorism in Syria, representing threat to Europe.

…Our priority is the elimination of terrorism of co-called Islamic State, and associated jihadist groups, but in has been for some years, and recently in Idlib, that number one supporter of jihadists is Turkey, and personally President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan” MAVRIDES said.

This week through the southern province of Hatay to the north-west of Syria additional military equipment and army special forces are being transferred.

Another convoy with special forces from various military units of Turkey proceeded to Idlib on February 13 during night hours. Electronic warfare complexes (EW) and armored medical vehicles were also deployed to the area of Turkish “observation posts”.

At present Turkish generals are following the order of the President and Supreme Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the country, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, to strengthen their “observation posts” in the Idlib de-escalation zone, which have long gone beyond monitoring the situation on the ground.

The “observation” posts of the Turkish Armed Forces in the neighboring Arab Republic have become full-fledged strongholds for Islamic militants supported by Ankara, as well as points from which the positions of the Syrian army are constantly fired upon.

Dutch ‘No’ to jihad mothers and children

The Netherlands is not obliged to help actively in repatriation of the young children and their mothers who left the country to join ranks of the Islamic State in Syria, an appeals court in The Hague said on November 22, overturning an earlier ruling.

Earlier this month the preceding court instance said the government must actively help to repatriate 56 children living in squalid conditions in camps in Syria.

All the children concerned have Dutch nationality and are under 12 years old. Most are younger than six.

The government appealed this ruling, citing national security and the risks it said Dutch officials would be exposed by entering the camps to find these women and children.

It said the ruling would negatively impact Dutch foreign policy and international cooperation. The mothers and children concerned are living in poor conditions which could rapidly deteriorate as winter arrives in the Al-Hol camp in northeastern Syria, their lawyer Andre Seebregts told the court, defending the need of repatriation.

In total, around 68,000 defeated fighters of the Caliphate and their families are being held in the camp, according to the Red Cross. They are under the custody of Syrian Kurdish forces after they took the jihadist group’s last enclave.

Government figures revealed that, as of October, some 55 Islamic State militants still based in northern Syria had traveled there from the Netherlands. There were also at least 90 children with Dutch parents or parents who had lived for a considerable time in the Netherlands as residents.

UN-Syria and Migration Crisis

Pierre-Emmanuel Thomann, Geopolitician A constitutional committee on Syria was created at the end of September 2019. This committee comes from the UN Security Council Resolution 2254 adopted at the end of 2015. This committee has 150 members (50 chosen by the government, 50 by the opposition and 50 by the UN among civil society). The objective is the drafting of the future Syrian constitution that will allow to organize elections for the next presidential scheduled in 2021 and prepare the future of post-conflict Syria. The last election took place in 2014 and  was concluded with a very large victory of Bashar El-Assad, renewed with 88.7% of the vote. (Image above: migration map Frontex 2015).

In preparation for the first meeting of this committee, which took place on October 30, the UN Special Envoy for Syria held talks on Tuesday, October 28, 2019, with the foreign ministers of Russia, the Iran and Turkey.

The success of the Committee is essential in order to prepare favorable conditions for a settlement of the crisis and to put an end to the bloody conflict in Syria.

A successful outcome for this committee is also in the interest of the Member States of the European Union  approach, to create the conditions for the return of the people displaced by the conflict, and to reduce the number of refugees in the European States. It is indeed necessary to drain the flows towards Europe, and thus to reduce the impact of the migratory crisis which threatens the foundations of the EU.

The European Union would therefore have every interest in supporting this constitutional committee.  Brussels would contribute to the resolution of this crisis, and at the same time deprive Turkey of its blackmail tactics when threatening to inflate the influx of refugees artificially to obtain more funding from EU.

MEPs condemn Ankara military intervention in Syria

MEPs strongly condemned the unilateral Turkish military intervention in northeast Syria, urging Ankara to withdraw all of its forces from Syrian territory.

In a resolution, adopted on October 24 by show of hands, MEPs warn that Turkey’s intervention in northeast Syria is a grave violation of international law, undermining the stability and security of the region as a whole.

Since Ankara launched its military invasion, alongside a high number of civilian and military casualties, at least 300 000 citizens have been displaced, underline MEPs, quoting United Nations sources. MEPs advocate that a UN-led security zone should be established in northern Syria.

They firmly reject Turkish plans to establish so-called “safe zone” along the border in north-east strongly condemned the unilateral Turkish military intervention in northeast Syria, urging Turkey to withdraw all of its forces from Syrian territory.

Parliament expressed its solidarity with the Kurdish people, underlining the important contribution of Kurdish-led forces, particularly that of women, in fighting Daesh. MEPs are extremely concerned over reports that hundreds of ISIS prisoners escaped from camps in northern Syria amid the Turkish offensive, which increases the risk of a resurgence of the terrorist group.

EU Foreign Ministers focus on Syria and Ukraine

“You know that today we are mainly discussing the military operations in Syria. To me the most important point will be the fact that we are hosting the UN Special Envoy for Syria, [Geir] Pedersen. We will discuss with him how we can help protect the political process from this new military escalation. And obviously, as you know, Member States will discuss how far they are ready to go on some measures that are on the table when it comes to the Turkish military activities in Syria, but also the drillings in Cyprus” EU top diplomat Federica Mogherini said upon her arrival to EU Foreign Affairs Ministers Council in Luxembourg.

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 “This meeting is important not only for the decisions it could take, but also to prepare the European Council. Because as you know, the European Council later this week will have the same two topics on the agenda, among others. It will also be useful to prepare the meeting of heads of state and government on these two issues.”

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 “And we will also host the Foreign Minister of Ukraine [Vadym Prystaiko] today. For me it is very important to keep the European Union’s attention, and that of the international community on that. It will be an opportunity for us to hear from him about the plans of the new administration – of the new government – on reforms. As you know, the European Union is the main supporter of Ukrainian reforms and also of the territorial integrity and sovereignty of the country. So it will also be a good opportunity for us to discuss with him on the perspectives for the country.”

Germany: refugee status implications

Refugees who return to Syria for holidays might lose their status in Germany, the Interior Minister Horst Seehofer told the Bild newspaper. The measure is taken based on the situation of some newcomers simultaneously claim to be fleeing persecution there, and returning to spend summer time.

In case the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) would became aware of travels to the country of origin, the authorities would immediately examine a revocation of refugee status, he said. In addition, they observe closely the developments in Syria. “If the situation permits, we will carry out repatriations” Horst Seehofer (CSU)  Federal Interior Minister said.

Around 780,000 Syrians have fled to Germany in recent years. For more than eight years, the devastating war has been raging, however now the troops of President Bashar al-Assad have gained control over the majority of territories, and reconstruction of infrastructure and houses began. The World Food Programme (WFP) Director of Supply Chain Jakob Kern assessed the investment into the entire reconstruction of infrastructure to amount up to  USD200-300 billion. The armed conflict in Syria has been ongoing since 2011. At the end of 2017, the victory was announced over the Islamic State terrorist group in Syria and Iraq. In some areas of Syria the fight is ongoing. At the moment, a political settlement, the restoration of Syria, and the return of refugees are in the forefront.

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