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Experts call for world attention of Syria crisis

By Jan Yumul in Hong Kong | China Daily | Updated: 2022-10-06 07:18
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Woman holds child diagnosed with cholera in a hospital in Deir el-Zour, Syria,  Sept 29, 2022. [Photo/CFP]

With the United Nations warning that Syria could return to large-scale combat, the international community should not forget the plight of the Syrian people as protracted fighting may lead to far-reaching political and security consequences, experts said.

Nagapushpa Devendra, a West Asia analyst and research scholar at the University of Erfurt in Germany, said the Syrian economy "had already collapsed" due to the civil war, sanctions and the COVID-19 pandemic. There had also been a steep decline in its wheat harvest last year as the country had been dependent on Russia and Ukraine for their exports.

The Russia-Ukraine conflict has "disrupted this service".

"The lives of Syrians are becoming direr and there is a growing resentment and restlessness among the Syrians as we speak," Devendra said.

"A protracted crisis like Syria is not receiving enough attention as the entire world is focusing on the new conflict in Europe. This may have far-ranging political and security implications for Damascus. It will also worsen the already grim humanitarian situation in Syria."

In his address to the 77th UN General Assembly's annual high-level debate, Syrian Minister for Foreign Affairs and Expatriates Fayssal Mikdad blamed Western countries that have implemented "straitjacketed agendas", "invested in terrorism "and "put economies in a stranglehold" in the guise of "spreading democracy and human rights", while states have been destroyed.

He also accused the West of "economic terrorism", as Syria had lost an estimated $107 billion in oil and gas revenues since 2011, leading to further economic woes.

Also, Syria would continue to seek compensation for the lost revenue, while "doing everything possible" to improve the humanitarian situation on the ground.

The UN, through the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic, warned on Sept 14 that the Middle Eastern nation could return to larger-scale combat, citing fighting between Turkish and Turkish-backed forces and Kurdish-led forces in the north, among others.

In recent weeks, there have been flare-ups in the country, including alleged Israeli airstrikes on Damascus International Airport, which killed five soldiers, according to Syria's Ministry of Defense.

The United States Central Command also reported a rocket attack being launched against the US military's Green Village base in northeast Syria, Al Jazeera reported. Syria has long protested against US looting of oil from northern parts.

Further polarization

Khaled Almasri, a former dean of the international relations and diplomacy faculty at Al-Sham Private University in Damascus, said things on the ground "are tense but not seriously dangerous".

However, he added that the current and shifting alliances will "lead to more polarization and more serious risk to engage in a risky operation".

"The international community needs to solve the root of the problem. Among the causes is the presence of foreign militaries in Syria, namely Turkiye and the US, as well as the logistics that continue to flow to jihadist groups in Syria," said Dina Yulianti Sulaeman, director of the Indonesia Center for Middle East Studies.

The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights reported that 350,209 individual deaths were recorded as a result of the Syrian conflict from March 2011 to March 2021, including 143,350 identified civilians.


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