July 29, 2021

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What is wrong with the “humanitarian passage” in Syria?

by Rick Sterling

We are delighted to send this cross message from JWE board member Rick Sterling which was originally featured on LA Progressive

To update: On Friday 9 July, the United Nations Security Council unanimously approved a one-year extension of the Bab al Hawa crossing. As part of the deal, the UN Secretary-General must report regularly on what is happening with aid entering the Al Qaeda-dominated area. Evidently Russia and China felt that this was not the right time to insist on principles. The problems outlined in this article remain true.

A friend sent me a link to a foreign policy news story about the border crossing between Turkey and Syria at Bab al Hawa. He asked: “Is that correct?” What could be wrong with humanitarian aid?

There have been many such stories, both short and long. The essence of all this in the Western media is that Bab al Hawa must be kept open for humanitarian reasons. Many of the articles chastise Russia or any other country like China that could vote to block the renewal of UN clearance at the border crossing.

There are important facts that Western media stories typically overlook or distort. Here are some reasons why the Bab al Hawa border crossing should NOT be renovated.

  • The aid supports the Syrian version of Al Qaeda, Hayat Tahrir al Sham (HTS). They control the region on the Syrian side of the crossing. It is the foreigners and diehard extremists who invaded Idlib from Turkey in 2015 plus those who left Aleppo and other cities when the militants were defeated by the Syrian army. Although the United Nations inspects all trucks bound for Idlib province in northern Syria, truck deliveries are ultimately controlled by HTS (formerly called Jabhat al Nusra).
  • The aid is effectively supporting the partition of Syria. The province of Idlib and the militants who govern it are trying to permanently separate from Syria. They are attempting to Turkise the region through sectarian education, promoting the Turkish language and even using the Turkish currency.
  • The aid violates the UN Charter which says that all member countries must refrain from threatening the territorial integrity of another member state. Turkey and the United States are the biggest offenders, as they have military troops illegally occupying Syrian lands. But it is unfortunate that the United Nations is complicit in authorizing aid to the separatist region dominated by Al Qaeda.
  • Aid to northwest Syria is prolonging the conflict instead of helping it to end. It is evident that after failing to overthrow the Syrian government militarily, Western powers are now using other means to attack Damascus. They continue to interfere in Syria’s internal affairs. Led by the United States, they attacked Syria economically while pouring support into the Northwest breakaway region.
  • Western aid to the Al Qaeda-dominated region distracts from the pain, damage and destruction that US and European sanctions have caused most Syrians. The Caesar sanctions, imposed by the United States during the Covid19 pandemic, have had a terrible impact. By outlawing the Syrian Central Bank and making trade with Syria nearly impossible, US sanctions have undermined the Syrian currency. Many goods have increased in price by 4 and 5 and even 10 times. Like a modern gangster, the United States has openly stolen oil and grain from eastern Syria. The United States attacked the power grid by banning parts, engineering or construction from repairing or rebuilding power plants. The “Caesar” sanctions prohibit support for anything government-related, including schools and hospitals.

According to a UN General Assembly resolution of December 2020, unilateral coercive measures such as the “Caesar” law are illegal and violate the UN Charter, international law and international human rights law. However, due to the global economic dominance of the United States, it is still in effect and the United States is claiming the right to prohibit any country, company or individual from supporting or trading with Syria. This is what makes US claims about humanitarian concern so ironic and cynical.

  • Western aid to Syrians through Bab al Hawa is discriminatory and serves to divide the country. Before the conflict, Idlib province had a total population of 1.5 million and today the number is LESS. Much of the population left when the province was overrun by extremists. Some fled to Turkey; others fled to Latakia province in the west. Some opposition militants and their supporters have chosen to go to Idlib rather than reconcile with the government. For example, when East Aleppo was taken over by government soldiers, there were about eight thousand militants and their families relocated, but not hundreds of thousands as was wrongly predicted in the propaganda wave before East Aleppo was recaptured. So, contrary to some estimates, there are a million or less people in Idlib.

Civilians in northwestern Syria are actually being bribed to live there through far greater cash payments and aid. One thousand trucks a month bring aid to northwestern Syria. As indicated in the OCHA document, people are “encouraged by access to services and livelihoods”. This is understandable, but the division effect is also clear.

In contrast, there are between 14 and 17 million Syrians living elsewhere in Syria. They are receiving little or no aid. Instead, they are bearing the brunt of the fierce unilateral coercive measures by the United States.

  • Aid to civilians in Syria should be distributed fairly and proportionately. This can be done with the monitoring or supervision of a respected international agency such as the Red Crescent / Red Cross. In line with the UN Charter, Western countries should respect the political independence of the Syrian government and stop their continued interference and efforts to “change the regime”.

Arming “humanitarian aid”

There are many Western NGOs shouting Bab al Hawa. For example, the International Rescue Committee raised many millions of dollars that should have been used to help all Syrians, but it did not. However, their literature should be carefully considered because, according to 2019 tax returns, Western governments are their main financiers at $ 440 million in 2019. ‘year. We can be sure they will keep the message with the US State Department.

Humanitarian aid is big business and has been politically armed. While there are many well-meaning people working hard, there are political programs at work.

If Russia and other nations in the UN Security Council veto the Bab al Hawa crossing extension, there are good reasons why.

[ https://justworldeducational.org/2021/07/whats-wrong-with-the-humanitarian-crossing-into-syria/ https://d26toa8f6ahusa.cloudfront.net/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/30214746/a-quiet-place-part-2-bigs-16.pdf