Minimal Western aid to Syria, despite temporary lift of sanctions

Italy is the first Western country to partially break the siege imposed on Syria and sends a plane loaded with aid that landed at Beirut Airport.

Feb 11, 2023

Despite the US Treasury announcing on Friday temporarily lifting 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 also:
Iran - US Sanctions – Unilateralism – Turning the Clock Back to Before the Nuclear Deal

Syrian Red Crescent: Caesar Act prevented Italian plane from landing in Syria

In the same context, the head of the Syrian Arab Red Crescent, Khaled Hboubati, highlighted that four medical specialists arrived from Italy to help Syrians after the devastating earthquake.

Hboubati thanked the Italian government and the Italian embassy in Beirut for facilitating the arrival of aid to the Syrian people.

According to Hboubati, it was possible for these planes to reach Syrian airports, but the Caesar Act stood in the way, prompting the planes to land at Beirut International Airport.

On Friday, the Syrian newspaper Al-Watan revealed that Italy will be the first European country to send humanitarian aid to Syria.

The newspaper pointed out that Italy will partially break the siege imposed on Syria and will send two military planes to Beirut airport loaded with medical supplies.

Syria refers to US temporary sanctions waiver as ‘misleading’

Earlier, Syria dismissed the US sanctions waiver as “misleading”.

In a statement, the Syrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates considered that “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.”

It continued that “while the sanctions waiver is proclaimed to allow the flow of humanitarian aid, the realities on the ground prove the opposite.”

According to the Syrian Ministry, “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.”

Elsewhere, the ministry called on Washington to lift all anti-Syria sanctions.

Syria urged the US to cease its hostile practices and to finally put an end to all international law and UN Charter violations against Syria. The Syrian government also urged all countries to show unconditional support for Syria in the face of this atrocity, calling the US administration deceitful for this temporary sanctions waiver.

Read also:
US gives green light to Turkey to invade Syria. They want a conflict between Turkey, Kurds, Syrians and Russians

UN rapporteurs call for lifting economic restrictions on Syria

On Friday, United Nations experts called on the international community to take immediate action to enable effective emergency response and recovery in the aftermath of the devastating earthquake that struck Syria and Turkey.

In a statement, the experts called for lifting all economic and financial restrictions caused by the unilateral sanctions on Syria “in this sad period of human suffering.”

It noted that the Syrian diaspora is unable to provide financial support through remittances or other means of financing.

France not to change Syria policy

On the same day the US announced the temporary lifting of sanctions, France announced that it shall maintain its policy toward the Syrian government and will not provide Damascus with relief aid.

In a press conference, French Deputy Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Francois Delmas said that Paris’ “political approach is not changing and contrary to Bashar al-Assad we are working in favor of the Syrian population.”

Delmas pointed out that France’s “aid for Syria will go through the United Nations mechanism and NGOs that directly benefit populations,” claiming that Paris allocated emergency aid of 12 million euros for all Syrian regions.

Earthquake exposed shortcomings of West

It is noteworthy that the Syrian Ambassador to Russia, Bashar Al-Jaafari, said on Thursday that the earthquake crisis has exposed the shortcomings of Western societies, policies, and governments, not only toward Syria but toward the whole world.

In a statement for Sputnik, Al-Jaafari said countries imposing sanctions on Syria are the same ones that discriminate between one side of the border and the other in the humanitarian sector.

The Syrian diplomat considered that there is no doubt that there is a high degree of politicization on the part of countries that call themselves donors or countries that provide humanitarian aid, pointing out that this crisis exposed those who were ranting about the issue of economic sanctions imposed on Syria.

Austrian and German rescuers suspend Turkey search over security

In a related context, the Austrian army and German rescue workers on Saturday suspended search operations in Turkey due to a worsening security situation, their representatives confirmed.

Read also:
Sondage des législatives 2022: quel score pour la gauche, LREM ou le RN? Les projections

On Friday, a Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) leader announced that Kurdish militants are temporarily suspending “operations” in Turkey after the massive earthquake that struck the country and Syria.

However, a spokesman for the Austrian army said that there had been “clashes between groups,” without giving details.

He told AFP that the 82 soldiers from the Austrian Forces Disaster Relief Unit were sheltering in the southern Hatay province “in a base camp with other international organisations, awaiting instructions.”

According to the spokesperson the soldiers were set to return to Austria on Thursday, but this is being reviewed.

A similar decision to halt rescue operations was taken in Germany by the Federal Agency for Technical Relief (TSW) and an NGO specializing in helping victims of natural disasters, ISAR Germany, according to an NGO spokesman.

“In recent hours, the security situation in Hatay province has apparently changed,” said ISAR Spokesperson Stefan Heine. “There are more and more reports of clashes between different factions, shots have also been fired.”

German teams “are remaining in the common base camp for now as a result” and will resume their search when Turkish civil protection authorities “believe it sufficiently safe.”

We remind our readers that publication of articles on our site does not mean that we agree with what is written. Our policy is to publish anything which we consider of interest, so as to assist our readers  in forming their opinions. Sometimes we even publish articles with which we totally disagree, since we believe it is important for our readers to be informed on as wide a spectrum of views as possible.