With Syria suffering from the war for over a decade now, the country remains trapped in a profound humanitarian and economic crisis, United Nations Special Envoy for Syria Geir Pedersen warned Wednesday.
“As we move into 2023, the Syrian people remain trapped in a profound humanitarian, political, military, security, economic and human rights crisis of great complexity and almost unimaginable scale,” Pedersen told a security council briefing.
He said that Syrians remain deeply divided over their future. “Despite our best efforts, no substantive progress is being made to build a common political vision for that future via a genuine political process. Equally, many of the issues in the conflict have for several years now not been solely in Syrian hands,” he added.
“The country remains de facto divided into several parts, with five foreign armies, multiple Syrian armed groups and Security Council-listed terrorists all active on the ground,” Pedersen emphasized, indicating that serious violations of international humanitarian law and human rights continue to rage across the war-torn country.
He recalled he met with Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu last week to discuss developments in the country and said that he follows the steps Türkiye takes with the Bashar Assad regime.
“A nationwide cease-fire remains essential for resolving the conflict,” Pedersen underlined. The envoy said that periods of relative calm and periods of escalation were seen last year while over the last month, the picture has been different. “We have seen fewer airstrikes in the northwest in recent months.”
“The scale of needs inside Syria is at the worst level since the conflict began – with record poverty, record food insecurity, basic services breaking down, and a burgeoning economic crisis. Needs in displacement camps remain the most urgent.”
Regarding the constitutional committee talks, Pedersen said that it could be a “door-opener” but that no significant progress could be seen.
A 2012 U.N. road map to peace in Syria approved by representatives of the United Nations, the Arab League, the European Union, Türkiye and all five permanent Security Council members call for the drafting of a new constitution. It ends with U.N.-supervised elections with all Syrians, including diaspora members eligible to participate. A Security Council resolution adopted in December 2015 unanimously endorsed the road map.
At a Russia-hosted Syrian peace conference in January 2018, an agreement was reached to form a 150-member committee to draft a new constitution. A smaller, 45-member body would do the actual drafting, including 15 members each from the regime, opposition and civil society. It took until September 2019 for the committee to be formed and little progress has been achieved so far.
“Ultimately, a diplomatic effort requires the inclusion of all relevant Syrian and international actors whose stake and influence are necessary to resolve this tragic conflict. It requires a common effort to unite behind the Syrian-owned and Syrian-led process facilitated by the United Nations as mandated in resolution 2254,” Pedersen highlighted.
Besides the attacks of the regime, the Syrians have also been subject to terrorist attacks as the PKK’s Syrian wing, the YPG, controls most of the country’s territory in the northeast.
Local people living in areas held by the YPG have long suffered from its atrocities, as the terrorist organization has a notorious record of human rights abuses, including kidnappings, recruitment of child soldiers, torture, ethnic cleansing and forced displacement in Syria. The YPG has forced young people from areas under its control to join the terrorist group with what it calls “compulsory conscription.”
Most recently, the local sources speaking to Anadolu Agency (AA) said that the YPG forcefully recruited dozens of youth, most of them Arabs, in northeast Hassakeh in the last week.
A total of 58 youngsters were forcefully put into the terrorist organization’s ranks from various so-called control points in Derik, Qahtaniyah and Rumailan, among other areas.
The PKK is a designated terrorist organization in the U.S., Türkiye and the European Union. Washington’s support for the YPG has been a major strain on bilateral relations with Ankara.
The U.S. primarily partnered with the YPG in northeastern Syria to fight against the Daesh terrorist group. On the other hand, Türkiye strongly opposed the YPG terrorist group’s presence in northern Syria. Ankara has long objected to the U.S.’ support for the YPG, a group that poses a threat to Türkiye and terrorizes local people, destroying their homes and forcing them to flee.
Under the pretext of fighting Daesh, the U.S. has provided military training and given truckloads of military support to YPG terrorists, despite its NATO ally’s security concerns.