Syria disaster exposed US true face; major threat to world peace: IOL
A piece for the IOL outlines how the US sanctions against Syria reveal the fallacy that underlines the US humanitarian claims.
International calls, spearheaded by China, demanded that the US lift its unilateral sanctions against Syria amid ongoing efforts to find survivors following the devastating earthquake that struck the country last Monday.
According to a piece by Abbey Makoe for the IOL, a South African newspaper, thousands of lives have been lost as a result of the catastrophic earthquake that hit both Syria and Turkey. While humanitarian aid to Turkey was "relatively smooth", Makoe reported, that in Syria, unilateral sanctions "are frustrating efforts to transport aid to Syria."
It is worth noting that Turkey is not only a member of the NATO alliance but also constitutes the second-largest military in the organization.
War-torn Syria suffocated by unilateral sanctions
The South African writer explained that Syria has suffered immensely under a 12-year war prior to the devastating earthquake. During that war, the US imposed unilateral sanctions against Syria as it supported "various Arab rebels fighting to overthrow the government of President Bashar Al-Assad," as per US claims.
These restrictions have hindered aid to the Syrian people and nation leaving anyone stuck beneath the rubble to face their own fate as the Syrian search and rescue teams undergo major setbacks at all levels.
The newspaper also highlighted that the White Helmets, which are "Western-funded fighters to topple the Syrian government," are also directly "supported by the US army on the ground."
This group has become "fully in charge" of the situation in regions where they operate as those are "parts of Syria where the government has long lost control."
On that note, it is worth reminding, as did IOL, that approximately "1000 US soldiers continue to operate in Kurdish-controlled areas in the country’s oil-rich northeast." US soldiers are operating on "Syria’s southern border area" as they cooperate with "Arab rebel factions that they sponsor."
Read more: WHO chief to Al Mayadeen from Aleppo: Situation is tragic
Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Mao Ning called on the US to lift its sanctions on Syria and “unlock the doors for humanitarian aid,” reported IOL.
Mao noted that “the devastating earthquakes – on top of years of war and turmoil – have left Syria in a terrible humanitarian crisis," and emphasized that "the frequent [US] military strikes and harsh economic sanctions have caused huge civilian casualties and taken away the means to the subsistence of the Syrians.”
Furthermore, Mao attacked Washington for stealing Syria’s oil “at a staggering rate." The spokesperson said, “As we speak, the US troops continue to occupy Syria’s principal oil-producing regions. They have plundered more than 80% of Syria’s oil production and smuggled and burned Syria’s grain stock," adding, "All this has made Syria’s humanitarian crisis even worse.”
Read more: US should lift sanctions on Syria for disaster rescue: CGTN poll
El-Mostafa Benlamlih, the UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator ad interim for Syria, characterized the current situation in Syria as “a crisis on top of a crisis."
According to the article, Benlamlih's statement during a press conference on Wednesday in which he stated, “We just hope that the political considerations will get out of the way and let us do our job,” is a veiled appeal to the US.
Alongside Benlamlih, the Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC) President Khaled Hboubati said, “The evacuation process and rescue operations are restricted due to obstacles resulting from the severe sanctions. We have shortages in heavy machines and equipment needed to lift the rubble.”
The true face of America exposed
According to the IOL piece, the tragedy in Syria has revealed the US' "cantankerous foreign policy" and exposed its "much-flaunted" humanitarianism "as a fallacy."
The South African writer put forward a couple of questions in his quest to prove his abovementioned claims: "Is Washington truly oblivious to the human tragedy that is currently unfolding in Syria where innocent men, women, and children need to be rescued under thousands of collapsed buildings? Where is Washington’s heart, if they have any?"
Makoe also called on the international community to "blatantly disregard America’s unilateral sanctions in Syria and rush to the aid of fellow human beings," adding, "After all, the US sanctions are not even the UN sanctions against Syria."
The writer argued that the "US and the EU are a major threat to world peace" and explained that their "'rules-based world order' is a ploy to undermine the UN and the majority of its member-states." On this note, Makoe warned that "if not careful, the UN would be moribund."
With regard to the Syrian crisis and the US unilateral sanctions on the country, the IOL writer said, "The failure to allow a free and safe passage for international aid organisations to do their work of saving lives in Syria would be an indictment on all the UN-affiliated countries that are looking the other way as the US blatantly abuses its power."
Syria refers to US temporary sanctions waiver as ‘misleading’
Due to the current logistical difficulties following the powerful earthquake that struck Turkey and Syria and following an international outcry, the US has decided to issue a six-month sanctions exemption on Syria for all disaster relief-related transactions, but Syria has dismissed the US sanctions waiver as "misleading".
“The misleading decision taken by the US administration to temporarily ease some of the cruel and unilateral sanctions on the Syrian nation is out of sham and hypocrisy and is no different from previous gestures meant to convey an erroneous humanitarian impression. While the sanctions waiver is proclaimed to allow the flow of humanitarian aid, the realities on the ground prove the opposite,” the Syrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates said in a statement on Friday.
It added, “US coercive measures and policies have deprived Syrians of their natural wealth, which is being plundered, and have created obstacles for state institutions to improve living standards, implement development projects and achieve targeted goals, and provide basic services.”
Minimal Western aid to Syria, despite temporary lift of sanctions
Despite the US Treasury announcing the temporary lifting of some Syria-related sanctions, no Western country other than Italy has provided Damascus with aid following the devastating 7.8-magnitude earthquake that struck the country and Turkey.
Although some Western countries pledged support for Syria, realities on the ground prove the opposite, as only militant-controlled areas have received Western aid so far.
Al Mayadeen correspondent reported that the first plane coming from Italy, loaded with aid to Syria from a Tunisian businessman, arrived at Beirut Airport in the Lebanese capital, with another expected to land later, as per Lebanese Minister of Public Works and Transport in the Lebanese caretaker government, Ali Hamieh, who said earlier in a statement to Al Mayadeen that two Italian aid planes will land at Beirut airport today and then head to Syria.
The head of the medical delegation coming from Italy, Tammam Yousef, said, "These planes are a message of solidarity from the Italian people to the Syrian people."
According to Yousef, the planes are loaded with four ambulances, as well as clothes and medical materials, adding that there is a third plane that will take off in the coming days from Italy, carrying additional aid to the Syrian people.
The abstention of the West comes despite Geir Pedersen, the UN Special Envoy for Syria, stressing the need to avoid "politicization" of aid to earthquake victims in Syria and urging Washington and Brussels to ensure there were "no impediments".
Pedersen told reporters in Geneva that aid is needed to get to Syrian state-controlled areas, as well as those controlled by militants.
"Certain" sanctions on Syria must be lifted in order for the international community to deliver essential goods to address peoples' urgent needs in the aftermath of Monday's earthquake, underlined Corinne Fleischer, UN World Food Programme (WFP) Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa.
Read more: Turkey-Syria earthquake death toll to top 50,000, UN warns