UN Resolution on Syria: A “Historic Moment” in Russia-U.S. Cooperation
On July 9, the United Nations Security Council unanimously passed a resolution on cross-border humanitarian aid for Syria jointly prepared by Russia and the United States, together with Ireland and Norway, This is the first time Washington has de facto recognized the authority of the Syrian government, and the country’s territorial integrity.
Russia’s Ambassador to the UN Vassily Nebenzia described the adoption as an “historic moment.” “For the first time Russia and the United States not only could agree,” he said, “but elaborate a consolidated draft resolution that found support with all our colleagues in the Council. Hopefully, this kind of scenario will be a turning point that not only Syria and the Middle East, but the entire world will benefit from.”
Russia, he said, had outlined its red lines during consultations on the renewal of the resolution, and, after reaching a compromise, provisions were included in the document that had been lacking in the original draft. In these conditions, Russia agreed to the extension of operation of the Bab al- Hawa checkpoint on the Syrian-Turkish border for 6 months, as opposed to the 12-month renewal originally proposed by the U.S.
Syrian Foreign Minister Mekdad endorsed the final text, as it specifies that the delivery of humanitarian aid must eventually also come from inside Syria (cross-line deliveries), and not only from the border crossing, which is outside the control of the Syrian government and which, according to Damascus, channels support to armed terrorist and separatist groups.
TASS quoted an unnamed senior U.S. administration official saying that the passing of this resolution would not have been possible without the summit between Presidents Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin.
The resolution also addresses practical measures to be taken to address the socio-economic impact of COVID, which, according to Nebenzia, should be paid for by the international community. To French ambassador Nicolas de Rivière had said that France would not provide aid in the absence of a credible political process in Damascus, his Russian counterpart pointed out: “You are not doing this assistance for the Syrian government, you are doing this for the Syrian people. And that cannot be conditional.”
The resolution welcomes “all efforts and initiatives to broaden the humanitarian activities in Syria, including water, sanitation, health, education, and shelter” as well as early recovery projects.
There is already speculation that the compromise accepted in the Security Council is a prelude to a full U.S. withdrawal from Syrian territory. The crucial question, however, is whether Washington will suspend the murderous sanctions, most notably the Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act of 2019, signed by former President Donald Trump in 2020, which threatens any country doing business or investing in Syria with follow-on sanctions. This act has stood in the way of any international effort to begin the reconstruction of Syria after ten years of war.