The UN is starving Syria and the US is calling them out - analysis

In essence, the UN has been used as a tool to prop up the Syrian regime.

The UN Security Council (photo credit: TAMAR BEERI)
The UN Security Council
(photo credit: TAMAR BEERI)
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has called on the UN Security Council to reauthorize the opening of three border crossings for humanitarian assistance to Syria.
He said the UN had allowed two of them to close, “unconscionably.”
The real story here is that several authoritarian regimes that back the Syrian government don’t want aid flowing into areas where the US has influence in eastern Syria, and also don’t want aid going through Turkey to Turkish-occupied northern Syria.
In essence the UN has been used as a tool to prop up the Syrian regime. This is in line with the general way the UN is exploited, and also is in line with the problematic nature of international law, which tends to view “states” as sacrosanct, not wanting to deal with “substate entities” or autonomous regions.
This means that when states break down or have a civil war, areas that may have long ago broken away from a central government have difficulty accessing international markets. Whether it is eastern Syria or Somaliland, this may be the case.
However, in other cases the UN is flexible and helps prop up substate entities such as its large infrastructure in Gaza and the West Bank. This may depend on history or the whims of the powerful countries on the Security Council.
The issue in Syria, as in other conflicts historically, is that the US and others are divided. Russia supports the Syrian regime. The US has opposed the regime, and, through fighting ISIS, the US became influential in eastern Syria, where it backs the Syrian Democratic Forces.
However, the US has its own Janus-faced problem with those it supports. Its former Syrian envoy James Jeffrey told the SDF in 2018 that it would have to seek a solution within Syria, and that the US doesn’t work with substate groups. The US relationships in eastern Syria were temporary and transactional, in the view of Jeffrey. The Biden administration is still searching for a Syria policy.
What has changed is that crossings to Syria through Bab al-Salam on the Syria-Turkey border and Yarubiyah between Syria and Iraq were closed by the UN. In effect, this has resulted in the empowerment of the Assad regime, while weakening opposition-controlled areas.
“Security Council members should stop taking part in, or making excuses for, attacks that close these pathways, and they should stop targeting humanitarian workers and Syrian civilians,” Blinken added, saying humanitarian assistance should not be politicized, according to reports.
“Ten years since the grassroots uprising against the Assad regime, that crisis is more dire than ever.... An estimated 13.4 million people, two in every three Syrians, are in urgent need of humanitarian assistance,” he said.
This means that over 60% of Syrians are at risk of hunger.
A further discriminatory aspect of the UN regime is the unfair distribution of vaccines through the UN COVAX system. Even though we are told that pandemics don’t recognize international borders, when it comes to UN-run programs, borders matter a lot. And so do vaccines. Almost 1 million AstraZeneca vaccines have been set aside for Syria, according to reports. Only 90,000 will be provided to eastern Syria, and some 224,000 to Turkish-occupied areas.
Will the vaccines be given out equitably? Will Turkish-occupied areas provide them to minorities and women, who face discrimination and are often barred from public life by Turkish-backed extremists?
Many questions remain about these issues as well as the provision of vaccines to other conflict areas, such as Yemen or Libya.
While the international community and UN often talk about minority rights, women’s rights, and other progressive issues, when it comes to actually supporting the rights of refugees and minorities, it is not clear whether the UN actually fulfills many of the values it claims to support. On Syria, this appears to be particularly true.