The Syrian Foreign Minister Faisal al-Mekdad was open in picturing the dire situation which Syria is living now, blaming it on the U.S. and Western ‘coercive measure.”
Mekdad was speaking at a Moscow think tank, The Valdai Discussion Club. The Club is a Moscow-based think tank and discussion forum, established in 2004. It is named after Lake Valdai, which is located close to Veliky Novgorod, where the Club’s first meeting took place.
Syria in need
In his remarks, Mekdad stressed that “Syria, which had never needed to import a single grain of wheat and until recently had been exporting it, is now compelled to import this basic material.”
He accused U.S. forces of “stealing plundering and seizing” the Syrian wheat.
Mekdad indicated that the “terrorist war and the acts of the U.S. and Turkish aggression against Syria, as well as the imposed economic blockade, have caused a great disaster for the Syrian people.”
“In sum, the rehabilitation and upgrading of Syria’s production of wheat will remain contingent on ending the occupation and restoring more than half a million hectares of agricultural land that no longer grows wheat due to the acute shortage of fuel and electric power. These factors are linked to another factor which is no less important, and it is represented by the Turkish side’s continued violation of the existing agreements between the two countries on the levels of river water flow within the 1987 Protocol, which causes a shortage of irrigation water needed for areas amounting to about 330 thousand hectares,” Mekdad said.
The Foreign Minister boasted that his government. “along with allies and friends”, continues to advocate the values of the United Nations Charter and the principles of international law in the field of reconstruction and the return of Syria to the path of sustainable development.
However, he says, these countries are facing challenges, “represented in the unilateral coercive measures imposed by the U.S. and the European Union on the Syrian people.”
He said that these sanctions have “inhumanely increased” in recent years, “under flimsy pretexts related to combating terrorism, while they were and still are an integral part of the U.S. traditional policy of putting pressure on governments that are not subject to their hegemony and who disagree politically with them.”
He indicated that direct and indirect negative economic and social repercussions of coercive measures imposed by the United States and the European Union on many peoples of the world, affecting about two billion people worldwide.
Mekdad added, “the size and impact of the illegitimate coercive measures have increased as a result of the issuance by the previous two American administrations of eight executive orders to tighten the economic siege on the Syrian people.”
He focused particularly on the punitive measures on the sectors of banking, energy, investment, import and export, communications, air, sea, and land transport with the aim of raising the level of the impact of these sanctions.
He lamented that these measures would deprive the Syrians “of their basic rights in life, especially their right to obtain medicine, health care, and adequate food, in addition to preventing them from their right to obtain adequate access to water, electricity, communications, and internal and external mobility.”
Mekdad singled out indicated the Caesar Act 2020, which included severe punitive economic measures against Syrians and against every foreign government or “third party” seeking to participate in economic, commercial, investment and service activities for the good of Syrian citizens inside Syria.
Mekdad blasted it as an “unfair, inhuman and illegal Act, (which) was unprecedented in terms of violating the UN relevant resolutions and the principles of the international law which all of them support the right of the state in development and prosperity and call for respecting the freedom of exchange, trade, and investment among the states.”
Development Index declined
Mekdad indicated that due to the suffocating economic blockade, Syria’s ranking in the Human Development Index declined to the list of the least developed countries according to the United Nations reports on human development.
He said the UNSC has issued Resolution No. 2585 on expanding early recovery projects in Syria, grieving however that “the U.S.-European economic blockade on Syria still prevents the United Nations from moving from providing humanitarian aid to supporting recovery and reconstruction projects.”
Mekdad pointed out that the unilateral coercive measures directly affected the capability of the main economic sectors on performing their tasks efficiently, particularly the energy, banking, health, industry, agricultural, telecommunication, and internal and foreign trade sectors.
He blamed the U.S. and EU economic siege for hindering the government’s ability to contract with foreign companies to maintain and rehabilitate the power generation stations and the transmission and distribution networks. It also limits the national capabilities to finance and maintain projects or build new energy plants due to the ban on bank transfers.
In regard to the Syrian public and private medical sector, Mekdad pointed out that the sanctions have deprived this sector of appropriate incapability to import medical equipment and modern medical technologies and to import medicines and medical substances.
He refuted the U.S. claims that the U.S. sanctions do not affect the entry of the food substances, humanitarian aid, medicine, and medical supplies to Syria, “as this allegation is a complete fabrication and the so-called “exceptions” granted by the U.S. Treasury Department are still subjugate to politicized considerations which contradict with the Syrians’ interests and aspirations for a better life.”
It is the first time a Syrian senior official has detailed the hardship from which his government is suffering this way.
The venue is also significant. It sounded like an SOS call from a senior official at a Russian think-tank. However, it is not clear whether the intended audience was the Russians or somebody else.
This article was 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.