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Brussels VIII: Continuing the Cycle Without Progress in Syrian Aid Strategy

Europe is awaiting clearer international directives regarding Syria, Abdul Moneim Issa writes in the pro-government al-Watan.
Brussels VIII: Continuing the Cycle Without Progress in Syrian Aid Strategy

Since its inception in April 2017, the Brussels Conference aimed to bolster the situation of Syrian refugees and prevent further displacement towards Europe, fueled by geographical proximity and a higher standard of living. Historically, the conference spanned two days; the first fostered dialogues between European institutions and Syrian civil society organizations, while the second convened foreign ministers from donor countries to discuss support allocations, often influenced more by political than humanitarian considerations.

Brussels VIII: Pedersen Meets Western Envoys, Civil Society

However, the eighth round, held in Brussels on April 30th, broke from this tradition—at least in form. The outcomes on substantive issues were deferred, and instead, the conference engaged 800 participants, including 300 Syrians, in extensive discussions intended to enhance the role of Syrian civil society organizations. Despite the prominent Syrian presence, their voices did not expand beyond previous limits and may have even diminished. The donor countries’ ministerial meeting was postponed to May 27, with assurances that funding would not decrease from the previous year’s €5.6 billion.

Despite these efforts, “Brussels 8” echoed the stagnation of prior meetings. The Europeans displayed increased confusion about the Syrian situation, partly due to unclear guidance from the United Nations, which they often look to as a directional compass. The EU’s spokesperson, Luis Miguel Bonyo, indicated a significant shift, stating, “Syria is no longer among the priorities of the supporting countries,” implying that a political solution to the Syrian crisis is no longer on the agenda. This remark aligns with a broader international sentiment, particularly from the U.S., which seems less inclined to obstruct regional movements toward reconciling with the Syrian government.

This growing detachment suggests a reevaluation period for Europe as it awaits clearer international directives. However, the European response to other crises, such as the conflict in Gaza described as the worst “holocaust” of the century, highlights a discrepancy between their self-image as bearers of advanced values and the reality of their actions.

French President Emmanuel Macron’s recent statement about Europe being “threatened with death” encapsulates the continent’s current existential crisis, encircled by challenges and retreating from its role on the global stage, which casts doubt on its ability to independently influence the Syrian crisis or any other international conflict.


This article was translated and edited by The Syrian Observer. The Syrian Observer has not verified the content of this story. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.

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