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Syria Today – ICJ to Hear Syria Torture Claims; China Calls for Lifting of Sanctions

Your daily brief of the English-speaking press on Syria.
Syria Today – ICJ to Hear Syria Torture Claims; China Calls for Lifting of Sanctions

On July 19th and 20th, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) is scheduled to consider a formal request presented by the Netherlands and Canada. This request urges the ICJ to issue an order compelling Syria to immediately cease all actions involving torture and arbitrary detention. This request is an integral part of a larger case in which both countries assert that Syria has violated a key United Nations treaty aimed at preventing torture.

Simultaneously, during his recent four-day trip to China, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad received a warm reception characterized by jubilant music and a grand display of performers. During this visit, Chinese President Xi Jinping made a significant statement by deeming the sanctions imposed on Syria by Western nations as illegal. Additionally, China pledged its support to assist Syria in its efforts to rebuild.

World Court to hear Syria torture claims on July 19 and 20

Reuters reported that the World Court on July 19th and 20th will hear a request by the Netherlands and Canada that it order Syria to cease all acts of torture and arbitrary detention, as part of a case alleging the country has breached a U.N. anti-torture treaty.

The hearing at the Peace Palace, the court’s seat in the Hague, will mark the first time an international court has looked at alleged abuses committed in Syria during 12 years of conflict.

The International Court of Justice, also known as the World Court, announced last month that the Netherlands and Canada had filed a case against Damascus for breaching the U.N. convention against torture since 2011.

Syria’s government and President Bashar al-Assad have rejected accusations of torture and extrajudicial killings in a war that the United Nations has said claimed hundreds of thousands of lives.

In their application for emergency measures, Canada and the Netherlands asked the court to order Syria to stop all acts of torture and cruel treatment and end arbitrary detentions, among other things.

The ICJ can issue such orders in an effort to ensure a situation does not deteriorate in the several years it generally takes the court to rule on the main claim.

However, it has no power to enforce its rulings.

Assad Attempts to Cozy Up to China, Seeks Help Rebuilding Syria

The Soufan Center published a a detailed analysis of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s recent visit to China, the implications of this visit, and the broader geopolitical context surrounding it. Let’s break down the key points:

Assad’s visit to China is notable as it is his first trip to the country in nearly two decades. This visit is part of his effort to normalize relations with other nations and reintegrate Syria into international forums, such as the Arab League. It signifies a diplomatic outreach by the Syrian government.

During Assad’s visit, China according to the article, announced a “strategic partnership” with Syria. This partnership is presented as a commitment to mutual support, friendly cooperation, and the defence of international fairness and justice. It reflects China’s interest in strengthening ties with Syria.

The article highlights serious human rights violations committed by the Assad regime during the Syrian civil war. These include the use of chemical weapons, war crimes, and crimes against humanity. The international community has accused the regime of these actions, which have resulted in significant civilian casualties.

China’s engagement with Syria is part of its broader strategy to expand its influence in the Middle East. China has been pursuing closer ties with various Middle Eastern countries and has been involved in diplomatic efforts in the region.

Assad’s visit to China may also be aimed at seeking financial support for the reconstruction of Syria, which has been devastated by years of conflict. The passage suggests that China may provide aid for reconstruction without attaching significant preconditions.

The article says Syria has formally committed to China’s Belt and Road Initiative, a global infrastructure development project. This suggests that China has economic interests in Syria, potentially including access to the Port of Latakia and investment in energy assets.

Security concerns in Syria, including the presence of terrorist groups like ISIS, ongoing protests, and Israeli airstrikes, may deter China from making substantial investments in the country. China is cautious about the stability and safety of its investments.

The article mentions China’s alignment with Russia in vetoing multilateral sanctions at the United Nations Security Council. This reflects China’s stance of not intervening in the internal affairs of other nations and its willingness to engage with regimes like Assad’s.

In summary, Assad’s visit to China represents a significant development in Syrian diplomacy, with potential implications for Syria’s reconstruction and China’s broader geopolitical interests in the Middle East. However, China’s investments in Syria may be tempered by concerns about security and instability in the region.

China’s Xi Calls for Syria Sanctions Waiver, Misleads on Their Legality

During his recent four-day visit to China, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad was greeted by jubilant music, rows of performers and a promise to help Syria rebuild, Polygraph reported.

As National Public Radio correspondent Aya Batrawy put it on September 23, Assad’s welcome in China marked the “rehabilitation” of a man who had been a “global pariah” since crushing a “popular uprising against his government with bombs and the full force of his military and security apparatus.”

That war, she said, “killed hundreds of thousands of people,” and millions of Syrians remain displaced.

Assad’s visit also marked the emergence of a “strategic partnership” between the two countries, sending a message to the West about China’s growing influence in the Middle East.

But, the article adds, for that partnership to fully bloom, Beijing needs the West to ease the diplomatic and economic sanctions that were imposed against the Syrian regime after it was accused of war crimes.

Thus, in expressing support for Syria during his meeting with Assad, Chinese President Xi Jinping directly addressed the issue, claiming that Western sanctions are “illegal.”

“China… urges relevant countries to immediately lift all illegal unilateral sanctions against Syria.”

That is misleading, according to the article.

United Nations sanctions are internationally recognized and binding, while sanctions imposed by an individual country are unilateral. Sanctions imposed by an individual country are legal according to that country’s laws but not legally binding for others.

Thus, the sanctions imposed by the United States, European Union, Australia and Switzerland against Assad and his regime are unilateral, meaning other nations can choose whether to abide by them. Some nations, including Iran, Russia and China, continued to do business in Syria despite the sanctions.

Xi used that loophole in terminology to mislead on the legality of the sanctions against Syria.

He also ignored the Syrian government’s crimes and failed to say why sanctions were imposed against the Assad regime in the first place.

SDC accuses Syrian government of fueling Deir ez-Zor strife

A representative of the Syrian Democratic Council (SDC) said on Thursday during a panel discussion in the city of Qamishli, northern Syria, that the Syrian government was one of the parties that contributed in fueling the strife in Deir ez-Zor, in coordination with Iran and Turkey, with the aim of controlling the areas east of the Euphrates, North Press reported.

SDC held a panel discussion entitled “The Syrian Crisis and the Necessity of National Dialogue” in Zana Hall in Qamishli city, with the presence of political figures and civil society institutions.

The panel discussion addressed the Syrian war, its challenges, and the prospects for a Syrian solution. It emphasized the necessity of national dialogue and ensuring the rights of all individuals. It also touched uponthe latest events in Deir ez-Zor were discussed.

Amina Omar, the Co-chair of the SDC, further elaborated to North Press that it became evident that the events in Deir ez-Zor were orchestrated and coordinated among several clandestine players, whether it was Turkey, Iran, or the Syrian government. The objective was to destabilize the security and stability of the region.

Recently, the countryside of Deir ez-Zor has witnessed tension and clashes between the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and armed groups loyal to Damascus and Tehran.

Deir-ez-Zor tribal uprising sparks new war

In a detailed report by The New Arab, the leading outlet provides an analysis of the recent clashes in Deir az-Zour, eastern Syria, between the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and Arab tribes. 

According to the report, the three-week ceasefire in eastern Syria was broken as the SDF, backed by the United States, and armed Arab tribes clashed in Deir az-Zour. This region has been a hotspot for power struggles since the collapse of the Islamic State (IS) in 2019.

The eastern province is resource-rich and has seen power struggles between the SDF, Iran-backed Syrian militia forces, and local Arab tribes. These dynamics have been further complicated by a faltering local economy, corruption, and blockades.

Despite the Arab population initially supporting the SDF against IS, they now feel marginalized and financially constrained due to economic difficulties and the heavy-handed approach of local authorities. This has led to growing frustration and resentment.

The article highlights that the uprising was triggered by the arrests of leaders of the Deiz az-Zour Military Council, particularly its head, Ahmed Al-Khubail. His perceived corruption and alleged collusion with the Syrian regime led to anger and protests.

The clashes between Arab and Kurdish elements have resulted in casualties, including the use of drones and rockets. The violence extended to an attempted attack by the Turkey-backed Syrian National Army on the city of Manbij.

The United States and Turkey

The United States, which has troops in northern Syria, is concerned about a full-scale war, which could undermine counter-insurgency efforts. The SDF’s response to the uprising with violence reflects potential instability in the region.

Turkey, despite having interests in the region, stayed out of the conflict to avoid discrediting the uprising and due to perceptions of its potential for success against the well-armed, US-backed SDF.

The Syrian regime has seized opportunities to stir tensions in the region. It is rumored to be arming Arab tribes to potentially use them against the SDF. This raises concerns about further instability and the potential involvement of the Islamic State.

To address the root causes of the unrest, the article suggests that the SDF and its Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (AANES) need to implement political reforms and ensure that oil revenues benefit the local population.

In summary, the situation in Deir-ez-Zor reflects the complex and volatile nature of the power struggles and grievances in eastern Syria. The SDF’s challenge lies in addressing the economic, political, and social issues that have fueled the uprising and in maintaining stability in the region. The involvement of various regional and international actors further complicates the situation.

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