Syria Today – Iraq and Syria Discuss Transit; Russia Condemns OPCW; Expert Predicts More Sanctions

Your daily brief of the English-speaking press.

In the field of diplomacy, Iraq and Syria discussed means of enhancing bilateral relations in transport and transit, while the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has affirmed the aim of the latest report issued by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. Meanwhile, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs described Syria’s fuel crisis as “unprecedented,” and a U.S. expert expects more sanctions on Damascus.

Syria, Iraq to enhance ties in transport and transit domains

The Iraqi Minister of Transport, Razzaq Muhibis al-Saadawi discussed with Syria’s Ambassador to Iraq, Sattam Jadaan al-Dandah, means of enhancing bilateral relations in transport and transit fields.

“Talks, during the meeting, highlighted means of addressing common challenges and intensifying efforts to step up a closer cooperation and meet the aspirations of the two brotherly peoples,” Ambassador al-Dandah told SANA correspondent in Baghdad.

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The Ambassador underlined the importance of cooperation in air and ground transportation to facilitate the movement of commercial trucks and adopt Iraq as a main transit route.

“Minister Al-Saadawi and Ambassador al-Dandah discussed prospects of bilateral relations along with key issues in the transport area and the frameworks for developing it in the interests of both countries,” the Ministry of Transport in Iraq stated.

Moscow condemns OPCW report on the chemical attack in Damascus countryside

The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has affirmed the aim of the latest report issued by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) on the “alleged chemical attack in the city of Douma in 2018” is to justify the Western aggression against Syria.

“It is clear that the task assigned to the investigation team, which it was unable to implement in the end, was to justify the aggression of the United States, Britain and France against Syria under the pretext of the Douma incident and to launch a large-scale missile strike on Syrian civilian and military sites in violation of the norms and fundamental principles of international law,” the Ministry said in a statement quoted by Novosti.

The Ministry added that the OPCW report claims to refute the conclusions of Syrian and Russian experts that were presented to the OPCW, the UN Security Council and the United Nations General Assembly that the West fabricated the Douma chemical incident.

It added, “All materials confirming the fabricated nature of the chemical incident in Douma, including the report of the Russian military, are available in open sources, including the website of the Russian Foreign Ministry and the official websites of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons and the United Nations.”

‘Crippling’ Consequences Of Fuel Shortage

The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said on Tuesday that Syria’s fuel crisis is “unprecedented.” It is having a critical effect on education, healthcare, water provision, and the affordability of basic supplies.

“The shortages have been crippling daily aspects of life since […] the beginning of December,” OCHA reported. “In the past, when such shortages occurred, fuel was available, albeit at prohibitive prices for most. Today, fuel is simply unavailable, no matter the price.”

The Syrian government is preparing a rationing plan for critical facilities until new oil shipments arrive, their statement reads.

The OCHA pointed out that critical projects in Syria have been affected by the shortage. It said to have cancelled 40 percent of humanitarian aid distribution, while over two-thirds of its project partners in the region have said they have reduced their activities.

New Sanctions On Syria Would Not Be Surprise – U.S. Analyst

More US sanctions against the Syrian government could be on the horizon in the aftermath of significant findings by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), said Alexander Langlois, an American analyst on Tuesday.

In a statement to North Press, Langlois said, “The joint statement […] offers much the same of the same language that led to unilateral action against the regime in the past,” adding, “In terms of U.S. actions, new sanctions would not come as a surprise.”

Yet the political analyst cautions against great expectations, “The chemical weapons file often feels like an afterthought within a Syria file that is, frankly, an afterthought already.” “I don’t see it as a core pillar [of US policy in the region].”

Langlois argued that the human rights protection ‘file’ in regards to Syria forms part of US policy in the region but long ago lost the limelight to the anti-ISIS mission and curbing Iran’s influence in the country. These goals, unlike accountability for human rights violations, are feasible for the Biden administration, according to the American analyst.

Seven Dead In Eastern Syria Air Strikes

Asharq Al-Awsat reported that seven people had been killed after air strikes destroyed a convoy of trucks that crossed into eastern Syria from Iraq, a war monitor said Monday.

The seven were “truck drivers and their assistants, all of them non-Syrians,” the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said, adding that they were “killed as a result of unidentified aircraft targeting a convoy of Iran-backed groups last night.”

The strikes destroyed a convoy of six refrigerated trucks transporting Iranian weapons in the Boukamal border region, the Observatory, which has a wide network of sources inside Syria, had said Sunday.

Syria among ‘lowest in the world’ for corruption perceptions

Syria ranked among the lowest in the world in the 2022 Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI), a global corruption ranking system released on Tuesday.

Transparency International’s CPI measures how corrupt each country’s public sector is perceived to be, using a range of external data and producing a relative average for each nation between 0 (highly corrupt) and 100 (very clean)

Syria was joint second from the bottom ranking 13 out of 100; Yemen was five from the bottom at 16 and Libya was sixth-lowest at 17.

“The region continues to struggle with authoritarianism, with even the leadership changes sparked by the Arab Spring uprisings of over a decade ago ultimately failing to dismantle the power structures that allow those at the top to retain control,” wrote Transparency International.

Syria, which ranked the same as South Sudan, has received a score of either 13 or 14 since 2016.


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