Regional, international actors use Syria for “geo-strategic competition” – Ban

NEW YORK, March 15 (KUNA) — UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said that regional and international actors could have united to help Syria stabilize rather than use it as a “battlefield for regional rivalries and geo-strategic competition.” In a statement released Tuesday, UN Chief highlighted that Syrian authorities could have responded peacefully to the legitimate demands of the people with genuine dialogue and reform.
“Five years ago thousands of Syrians took to the streets calling for political change, only to be met with violence and repression,” Ban added.
Marking the grim anniversary, Ban affirmed that recalling the origins of the conflict is important, and that the destruction that engulfed Syria following those hopeful days of March 2011 was not inevitable.
With over 250,000 Syrians have been killed, and nearly half of all Syrians have been forced from their homes, seeking refuge within or outside the country, Ban said the world has been confronted with an unprecedented humanitarian catastrophe.
Terrorist groups such as the so-called Islamic Stare (IS) and Al-Nusra Front have capitalized on the chaos, as well foreign fighters and sectarian militias, nightly, have poured into Syria to join the fighting, he added.
Moreover, the UN Chief said that the Syrian conflict has been the scene of the use of chemical weapons, siege and starvation as a tool of war, unlawful detention, torture, and the indiscriminate and criminal shelling and aerial bombardment of civilians.
Once again, he reiterated that those responsible for these crimes must be held to account. He then repeated his call to the world’s top body, the Security Council to refer the situation in Syria to the International Criminal Court.
“In Syria as elsewhere, peace without justice is not sustainable,” he added.
The global consequences of failing to resolve the Syrian conflict are now lamentably clear, he said, and it is in this context that renewed international and regional diplomacy and commitment to finding a solution to the Syrian conflict is vitally important. The UN Chief confirmed that the formation of the International Syria Support Group (ISSG) and the commitment of its members to use their influence with the parties to increase humanitarian access to besieged and hard to reach areas in Syria and to implement a cessation of hostilities “has created a rare opening and given reason for hope.” The international community finally moved beyond mere calls on the parties to uphold their obligations under international law to concerted and concrete action to reduce violence and aid civilians in need, and “diplomacy” he said, is finally making a difference in the daily lives of the long suffering Syrians.
Remarkably, as the violence has fallen in the past two weeks, the Syrian people have returned to the streets, demonstrating peacefully as they did five years ago.
Welcoming these developments, Ban said they alone do not represent a solution to the Syrian conflict, but a comprehensive political settlement to the conflict that addresses the legitimate aspirations of the Syrian people and builds on a nationwide ceasefire.
Building on the call in Security Council resolution 2218 for a political transition, Security Council Resolutions 2254 and 2268 now provide a political path and timeline for pursuing this goal.
This week, the Special Envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, convened intra-Syrian negotiations in pursuit of the full implementation of the Geneva Communique as the basis for a Syrian-led political transition.
With this step, the UN Secretary General appealed in his statement to Syrian parties, regional and international stakeholders and the Security Council to fulfill their responsibilities and to help make these negotiations successful. If this opportunity is missed, the consequences for the Syrian people and the world are too frightening to contemplate, he confirmed. (end) mao.ibi