The sad images we are seeing tug at the feelings of Syrians everywhere in the world. The political situation is increasingly dire and perilous, inflicting more pain on Syrians, tormenting Syrians everywhere and further entrenching their suffering. The second paragraph of the presidential statement adopted today (S/PRST/2015/10) states:
“The Security Council reaffirms its strong commitment to the sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity of Syria and all other States affected by the Syrian conflict, and to the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations.”Those noble words are being constantly violated today by States that are members of the Security Council, whose Ambassadors approved the statement.
Much of what has been said today is important. We heard similar statements prior to the adoption of resolution 1973 (2011), concerning Libya, which, members will recall, served to open the door to the dismemberment of Libya, causing it to become a failed State and turning its destiny over to groups of terrorists who spread terrorism throughout Africa, as well as in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon and Egypt. In addition, Libya has now become the central hub for gangs engaged in human trafficking. Many have spoken of that fact with deep feeling, and have been right in saying that this has led to the loss of thousands of lives, including many youths, in the waters of the Mediterranean.
The main problem we are encountering today has to do with the fact that some people are exploiting, in an evil way, the extremely painful humanitarian situation in order to interfere in the internal affairs of others. I shall explain that very clearly in the course of my statement.
However, before proceeding with my statement, I should like kindly to commend to all members the second part of a report whose first part I mentioned to the Council a few months ago, which contains the names and photographs of thousands of foreign terrorist fighters killed by the Syrian army inside our country. I have part two here in my hand. It lists thousands of names of terrorist from various parts of the world, including all the Member States represented in the Security Council, with the exception of Angola and Venezuela. This is the “moderate armed Syrian opposition”.
Let us imagine that the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) or the Al-Nusra Front — or any other terrorist organization mentioned in this report — were to storm a city in a country that refers to terrorist groups in Syria as the “moderate armed opposition”. Let us furthermore imagine that such a group began to wreak havoc and kill people. How would those countries react? How would they deal with such a “moderate” situation? Would they extend bouquets of flowers and shower them in perfume? Would they provide them with humanitarian aid and medical treatment? Above all, would they in the first place accept calling them — American, British, French or Turkish— “moderate armed opposition”? Would they? Of course not.
What absurd irony it is that those same States turn the world upside down whenever they discover even a single terrorist on their own territories. They also use military force in the territories of other States, thousands of miles away, under the pretext of protecting their national security against the threat of terrorism. However, the deny us Syrians our legitimate right and duty to fight the very same terrorism targeting our people on our own land and within our own borders — not in places thousands of miles away from us. To make the situation even worse, the terrorists whom we target on our national territory suddenly become, in their eyes, innocent civilians exposed to what they call “barrel bombs”. Similarly, cross-border foreign terrorism — condemned by resolution 2178 (2014) — miraculously becomes the result of the Syrian crisis, rather than the cause.
Moreover, even today, a speaker described the situation in Syria in an absurd manner and politically immature way, stating that the Government and ISIL were targeting civilians. In that regard, it seems necessary for us to remind the colleague in question that his country’s air force bombed a centre for deaf-mute children in the city of Raqqa, destroying it and killing scores of innocent children there under the pretext of fighting ISIL in an open-ended time frame.
Another speaker, a colleague of ours, said that the political solution in Syria must not include President Bashar Al-Assad. However, he then said that his State supports the mission of Mr. de Mistura. That strange paradox in itself shows a lack of understanding of the content of the presidential statement just adopted (S/PRST/2015/10) and a very primitive reading of the current political situation in Syria, in addition to which it violates the Charter of the United Nations, which prohibits States from intervening in the affairs of other States.
Can anybody explain to us the relationship between the crisis in Syria and the presence of tens of thousands of foreign extremists and terrorists on our land? These terrorists have come through international borders and airports with official entry visas issued in dozens of States, including Australia, the United States of America and the countries of Europe, to my country, with the assistance of the intelligence services of those countries. Some of those intelligence services are quite known to us; some even belong to members of the Security Council. Those facts have been confirmed by the report of the Council’s Analytical Support and Sanctions Monitoring Team (see S/2014/815, annex) on the phenomenon of foreign terrorist fighters. That is, then, what the Council is saying. So, could the Council explain to us exactly what the Syrian crisis has to do with the smuggling of all types of weapons from Libya, Lebanon, Turkey and other of Syria’s neighbours in the very early stages of the crisis? Is there a relationship between the crisis in Syria and the religious fatwas based on a state of jahiliyyah that were issued in Saudi Arabia, Qatar and other countries on jihad, on fighting infidels in Syria and on the slaughter of so-called minorities?
It is not possible to talk about ending the suffering and pain of Syrians inside and outside Syria and about ending the humanitarian crisis in the country while remaining silent about the fact that some countries continue to allow their territories to be used as a base and a crossing point for terrorists heading into Syria. It is not possible to end the humanitarian crisis while some continue to use terrorism as an instrument to implement their own political agendas. It is also obvious that an end to this crisis will not be achieved as long as some persist in refusing to believe that the solution can only come through Syrian-Syrian national dialogue led by the Syrians themselves without any external interference. The sponsors of terrorist groups caused the Geneva II conference to fail and sought to make the first and second meetings in Moscow also fail, and recently even caused Special Envoy de Mistura’s proposal to “freeze” the conflict in the city of Aleppo to fail, whereas the Syrian Government had agreed to it in the hopes that it would improve the humanitarian situation there.
Last but not least, is it consistent for certain countries to claim to be eager to improve the humanitarian situation while they impose illegal coercive measures on the Syrian people? Is that eagerness to improve the situation also consistent with the fact that some countries prefer to generously — very generously — fund so-called moderate terrorism rather than fund the humanitarian response plan, which has only received 16 per cent of the funds pledged for 2015?
Some colleagues in this Chamber insist on claiming that the Syrian Government is besieging some areas and preventing the entry of humanitarian aid to civilians there. Such claims are both naive and misleading. The areas in question were previously safe and stable, with no crises — humanitarian or non-humanitarian — at all, until so-called moderate terrorist groups entered those areas, using civilians as human shields, and seized or prevented the delivery of humanitarian aid. Those areas then became besieged from within rather than from without — by those moderate terrorist groups, including ISIL and the Al-Nusra Front. Faced with that situation, it was necessary for the Syrian Government, pursuant to its duty — like that of any responsible Government — to protect its citizens, to fight the terrorist groups and work to prevent them from expanding into other secure civilian areas, thus preventing them from creating new humanitarian crises in those areas.
The best evidence of the validity of what we have been reporting to the Council in that regard is what happened recently in the Yarmouk camp, which some here have accused the Syrian Government of besieging. How could that camp be under siege by the Government when it was ISIL that managed to break into it with the help of the Al-Nusrah Front? If the camp was being besieged by the Syrian Army or the Government, how did the Al-Nusrah Front manage to enter it?
Among those who accuse the Syrian Government of besieging the Yarmouk camp, is there anyone who can answer that question? Is there anyone who can explain to us why terrorist groups continue to get into and out of those areas, including Yarmouk camp, areas that are referred to as being under siege by the Government? Is there anyone who can explain to us how it is that civilians are being displaced from within those areas that are said to be besieged and that those people find their way out, seeking refuge in areas controlled by the Government? If the Syrian Government is the one that is shelling those people, why are those people then seeking refuge in areas under the control of the Syrian Government in order to flee the acts of terrorists?
I would like to explain the facts to those who are trying to distort the situation in Yarmouk today and who are trying to mislead people through their poisonous attempts to demonize the Syrian Government. In the Yarmouk camp before the crisis, that is, before 2011, there were 500,000 people, 200,000 of whom were Palestinian refugees from the Israeli aggression in Palestinian lands, people who had been expelled from their land; the remainder were Syrian citizens. In other words, the number of Syrians in the Yarmouk camp was larger than the number of Palestinian refugees in that camp. The Syrian Government helped all the residents to safely leave the camp after it was stormed by the terrorists. The Government provided them with shelter and basic living necessities.
The Government of Syria, and not the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs nor Ms. Amos, secured a decent livelihood for the 500,000 inside the Yarmouk camp. Today, there are only 1,000 people in the camp, and not 18,000, as has been alleged. There are no children or women among the residents there. There are only terrorists and some male citizens, totalling fewer than 1,000. They are the ones in the camp today, at the very moment that I am speaking here before the Security Council.
Syria has hosted millions of refugees from several neighbouring countries. I shall not name those countries, as this is not charity that we extend. We have never used the plight of our brothers for financial or political manipulation. We have not established refugee camps along our borders — something that the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East have both acknowledged. Unfortunately, however, it seems that some States have not benefited from this noble Syrian experience. On the contrary, since the beginning of the crisis, some have sought to create a refugee and displaced persons crisis in Syria in order to use it as a pretext to exert political pressure and financial manipulation and in justifying their interventionist agendas.
I have already mentioned that the storming of the safe neighbourhoods by the armed terrorist groups is what forced the residents in those areas to leave their homes and become internally displaced persons or refugees in camps that were prepared for them in advance. I say in advance because we have evidence of that fact, the latest of which comes from a recently published book by a former French Ambassador, entitled Tempête sur le Grand Moyen Orient. In it, the author tells of visiting Iraqi Kurdistan in 2009, where he saw many camps being built. When he asked why the camps were being built, he was told they were for the Syrian refugees who would come to Kurdistan later. At the time, there was no crisis in Syria and no Arab Spring. There was nothing at all in 2009.
Asylum-seeking and displacement happen only in areas infiltrated by terrorists, as is the case in Idlib and Aleppo and several other cities. The best way to help Syrian refugees and displaced persons is to enable them to return to their homeland by addressing the reasons that led to their displacement or their becoming refugees. To that end, there must be serious and full implementation of resolutions 2170 (2014), 2178 (2014) and 2199 (2015). It also requires genuine political will on the part of some powerful Member States on the Security Council to exert pressure on States such as Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey and others to stop funding, arming, training and providing logistical support to terrorists. Would it not be better to spend the funds pledged to the response plan on helping Syrian refugees and displaced persons return to their homeland?
Once again, I would like to reiterate that the Syrian Government is committed to its duties and responsibilities to alleviate the humanitarian burden of its people. We are fully ready to take all the necessary steps at the national level to achieve that. In that regard, we will continue our cooperation with the United Nations and to facilitate its tasks. However, that cooperation is not a one-way street; the United Nations is required to abide by the Organization’s guiding principles on the delivery of humanitarian assistance, as set out in General Assembly resolution 46/182. It must also cooperate and coordinate with the Syrian Government on the various humanitarian issues, rather than resorting to suspicion, provocation and criticism, which are fruitless. The United Nations and other international organizations did not succeed in delivering humanitarianmanitarian assistance to around 4 million Syrians per month without the cooperation and facilitation of the Syrian Government.
Finally, I heard no comment or criticism of the relationship between Israel and the Al-Nusra Front in the area of disengagement in the occupied Syria Golan. I heard no comment or criticism of the relationship between Turkey and the terrorists, in particular given that, as mentioned by one of our colleagues, the head of one of the biggest terrorist gangs in the Douma suburb of Damascus is now carrying out a secret visit to Turkey to meet with the intelligence services with a view to perpetrating further terrorist acts in Damascus. By the way, that man is responsible for the killing of scores of innocent civilians in Damascus via rockets and shelling.
I heard no comment or criticism — or even a statement by the Security Council — two days ago (see S/PV.7430) in connection with the Saudi arrogance and insolence in threatening my country here in the Council, including the intention on the part of that country’s rules to carry out in my country the same absurdity that they carried out in Yemen. I heard no one stopping that Ambassador and telling him that he had transgressed the provisions of the Charter of the United Nations. I have not heard the Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs speak about the barrel bombs in Yemen. Why should Yemenis die as a result of Saudi barrel bombs? Why would the Under-Secretary-General remain silent on the killing of Yemenis? I am not comparing, as barrel bombs are not in the military terminology. But cruise missiles do exist, and they can kill hundreds and even thousands of innocent civilians.
Last but not least, I would like to remind representatives of the scandal of the leaking of an audio recording that took place in the office of the Foreign Minister of Turkey, who is now Head of the Government, in the presence of the Chief of Intelligence of Turkey and the Chief of Staff of the Turkish army, wherein they discussed a plan to order operatives within the Syrian Government to launch mortars against the tomb of Suleyman Shah in order to create a pretext for a Turkish attack on Syria. And what is the status of Turkey’s — and neighbouring countries’ — implementation of the criminalization of the facilitation of the movement of foreign terrorist fighters into Syria? Is it possible that Turkey enjoys the silence of the Council merely because it is implementing NATO policies?