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US, allies wash their hands of role in prolonging Syrian war

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Even after 13 years of war, the West and its allies continue to promote divisions in Syria through occupation of its land, theft of its natural resources, unilateral sanctions and military interventions, the writer says. Picture: Johnny Shahan / UNICEF

By Peoples Dispatch

The US and its European allies issued a joint statement on the occasion of the 13th anniversary of war in Syria. The statement expressed concern over the suffering of Syrians and blamed the Bashar al-Assad government while remaining silent about their own role in perpetuating their suffering.

The joint statement, issued by the US, the UK, France, and Germany on March 15, reiterated the narrative that it is Assad government’s oppressive policies against “peaceful protesters”, who were merely demanding “their freedom and respect for human rights”, which led to the war in 2011, which still continues after 13 years.

The US and its allies tried to completely wash their hands of the war in which over 500,000 Syrians have been killed and more than half of its pre-war population displaced. The war has made nearly seven million Syrians refugees across the region and the globe. The UNICEF claims that nearly half of all school going age children (5.5 million) in the country are out of school today. Nearly 7.5 million Syrian children are in need of humanitarian assistance, which is the highest ever number in the last 13 years. It claims that nearly 650,000 children under the age of five are malnourished in the country.

The rise in the number of Syrians needing humanitarian assistance today, nearly 17 million, is partially attributed to last year’s devastating earthquake in which over 6,000 Syrians were killed. The war-ravaged country lost more of its infrastructure and hundreds of thousands of Syrians were freshly displaced due to the earthquake.

The US and its allies declared that “our countries see no possibility of normalisation with the Assad regime, no funding of reconstruction and no lifting of sanctions until there is authentic, meaningful and enduring progress towards a political solution”.

The statement is a clear example of what the Syrian government later called “political hypocrisy and moral decadence” of the US and its European allies who played a key role in the emergence and prolongation of the war in Syria and continue to be directly involved in intensifying the suffering of Syrian people.

Syria’s Foreign and Expatriate ministry, while rejecting the statement, condemned the West’s narrative by calling it “intended propaganda” which is aimed to “divert the attention” from real causes of the problem Syrians are facing.

The Syrian government claims, “over the past 13 years the governments of the US, the United Kingdom, France and Germany have continued their hostile approach against Syria by using all the tools of war against it”.

The US and its regional and European allies were responsible for providing military and financial support to groups which tried to overthrow the Assad government in 2011 prompting the war. The direct military support provided by the US and its allies in the region, though discontinued after a few years, aided the extremist elements in the region and gave birth to ISIS in 2014 prolonging and intensifying the war.

Citing human rights violations, the US and its allies imposed unilateral sanctions on Syria after failing to overthrow the Assad regime. The unilateral sanctions, deemed illegal as per the UN charter, have intensified the suffering of the Syrian people by preventing imports of essential commodities including medicines and food pushing their prices. Sanctions have also crippled the resumption of essential public services such as electricity supplies even forcing the state to halt its regular functioning.

The Syrian government and the UN have repeatedly demanded the lifting of unilateral sanctions claiming that they are not only hindering the much-needed economic recovery and blocking all the efforts of reconstructions but also the faster return of the Syrian refugees.

The US and the EU adamantly reject lifting their unilateral coercive methods, despite the Arab League reversing its boycott of the Assad regime last year. They talk about the centrality of a political solution under the UN Security Council resolution 2254. However, they continue to maintain ties with the anti-Assad groups and encourage them to avoid the political process for reconciliation.

The Syrian government specifically claims the US in particular has been responsible for the suffering of its people. Its forces illegally stationed in the country allegedly loot millions of dollars’ worth of the country’s oil revenues every year. According to the Syrian government, the loot of Syria’s natural resources is not limited to oil. There are reports of the US forces looting millions of dollars of food grains in the country, which is heavily dependent on humanitarian assistance.

In the middle of all of this, Israel and Turkey, two of the closest US allies have carried out fatal military interventions and strikes in Syria repeatedly in the last 13 years. The strikes cause further destruction and killings in Syria apart from crippling the government’s attempts to end the war.

This article was first published on Peoples Dispatch