Syrian foreign minister tells UN: No civil war in my country, only terrorism

Moualem slams Israel's "handicapping" possibility of WMDs-free zone by not signing Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem addresses un 370 (photo credit: REUTERS)
Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem addresses un 370
(photo credit: REUTERS)
NEW YORK – Syrian Deputy Prime Minister Walid al-Moualem took the UN dais on Monday morning in New York in the penultimate day of the UN General Debate. His message: There is no civil war in Syria.
The Syrian government is merely trying desperately to fight foreign-sponsored terrorists and provide humanitarian aid to its beleaguered people, he said.
In his relatively short speech, Moualem took aim at certain “known countries” who he accused of financing and arming the terrorist groups fighting his government.
“There is no civil war in Syria,” he said.
“It is a war against terror that recognizes no values, nor justice, nor equality, and disregards any rights or laws.”
He called on the international community to “confront this terror” and to confront the “well-known countries that finance, arm, train and provide safe haven for terrorists.”
He specifically named the United States and European Union for imposing sanctions that he called “immoral, unilateral economic measures that contradict the rules of international law and principles of free trade.”
“The cessation of aggressive policies against Syria is the first step on the road towards the solution in my country,” he said. “Any political solution in light of the continued support of terrorism, whether through supplying arms, funding or training, is mere illusion and misleading.”
“There remain those who do not want a political solution and always resort to aggression, either directly or through their agents on the ground,” Moualem said. “Syria has committed itself to a political solution.”
Moualem went on to accuse these terrorist groups of kidnapping children and turning them into soldiers, sexual crimes, and other atrocities.
“The scenes of murder, manslaughter, and eating human hearts were shown on TV screens but did not touch blind consciences…. The claims about the existence of moderate militants and extremist militants have become a bad joke. Terrorism means only terrorism; it cannot be classified as moderate terrorism and extremist terrorism.”
He further talked about the dire humanitarian situation and appealed to New Yorkers for understanding.
“The people New York have witnessed the devastations of terrorism and were burned with the fire of extremism and bloodshed, the same way we are suffering now in Syria,” he said. “How can some countries, hit by the same terrorism we are suffering now in Syria, claim to fight terrorism in all parts of the world, while supporting it in my country?” Moualem also took a moment to sound off against the Israeli occupation of the Golan Heights and declare Syria’s support for the Palestinian people. He also called on Israel to ratify “all treaties banning [nuclear] weapons” to make the Middle East a WMD-free zone.
Moualem also said that Syria’s accession to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons means that his country is renewing its call for a nuclear-free region.
“Syria is known for fulfilling its obligations and commitments,” he said. “Therefore, I assure you of Syria’s commitment to the full implementation of the provisions of the Convention, and to cooperate with the OPCW [Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons] as a state party to the Convention.”
He accused the “terrorist” groups in Syria of using “poisonous gases” and of having received these chemical agents “from regional and Western countries that are well known to all of us.”
He concluded by commending the United States and Iran for their friendly overtures last week, and said Syria “looks positively at [their] efforts to bridge the gap of mistrust between the two countries.”
The UN chemical weapons inspection team, led by Dr. Åke Selltröm of Sweden, departed Syria on Monday after completing its six-day mission, marking the end of its second trip to the region. In total, the team will investigate seven alleged chemical attacks, with a mandate simply to discover whether an attack took place, not to assign blame. Its second report should be ready by late October, spokesman for the UN Secretary-General Martin Nesirky said.
Nesirky also confirmed on Monday that a team from the OPCW had departed for Syria and was scheduled to begin its mission of destroying the chemical-weapons stockpiles on Tuesday. Nesirky would not elaborate on the team’s mission beyond that it has a “tight timetable.”
According to the OPCW, the chemicalweapons convention enters into force for Syria on October 14, 2013.