Time for West to stop supporting terrorists - Russian ambassador to UK

Ambassador's view
Dr Alexander Yakovenko, Russian Ambassador to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Deputy foreign minister (2005-2011). Follow him on Twitter @Amb_Yakovenko
© Hosam Katan
On October 21, on the initiative of the UK, the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) met to discuss the recent situation in Aleppo. The discussions demonstrated a huge divergence of opinions and views on the realities in Aleppo and the Syrian crisis as a whole.

HRC has been reviewing the Syrian file for more than four years now, but regrettably its assessments are becoming a far cry from reality due to the efforts of certain states, including those who call themselves the “Friends of Syria”, to politicize the matter. The current session has been a case study in this.

Instead of supporting the fight against international terrorism, the initiators of the HRC special session, as a matter of fact, tried to let the terrorists off the hook, save them from defeat and allow them to regroup and continue to commit atrocities in Syria. There is no other explanation for the fact that a HRC draft resolution didn’t demand the terrorists and militants cease hostilities, obstructing humanitarian access, using civilians as human shields, and stop preventing residents and medical workers from leaving the city via established humanitarian corridors.

Moreover, these countries tried to blame Russia for most of the developments in East Aleppo, while failing to pressure the rebels to abide by the ceasefire and respect humanitarian efforts. In fact, the whole situation in East Aleppo is held hostage to the terrorists designs.

Against this backdrop, the crimes committed by the US-led coalition are being silenced, despite their devastating strikes on civilians and Syrian army units. They are also systematically destroying the economic infrastructure in the Syrian Government-controlled areas (perhaps to make Syria depend on financial assistance for post-conflict reconstruction?). Now, it seems that ISIL fighters are being deliberately squeezed from Iraq’s Mosul into Syria.

Even more perplexing was the voting on Russia’s amendments to the HRC draft resolution. UK, France, Belgium and several other Western and Gulf countries flatly refused to admit the existence of foreign assistance to terrorists in Syria, to recognize the need to separate the jihadists from the moderate opposition (which is the subject matter being discussed by experts in Geneva as a follow-up to the recent multilateral talks in Lausanne) and to support the efforts of UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura to remove the jihadists from eastern Aleppo. Such a stance suggests that the public rhetoric of those governments on the need to fight international terrorism in Syria does not reflect their true intentions and goals.

Our Western partners should understand that using HRC for attaining their own political goals is counterproductive and discredits this vital human rights agency and the doctrine of human rights as a whole. We hope that they will eventually see reason, stop supporting the jihadists and start fighting against them, facilitate the separation of terrorists from the moderate opposition, help oust Jabhat al-Nusra and its allies from Aleppo, stop supplying terrorists with arms and recruits, and promote the continuation of inter-Syrian talks to eventually settle the conflict in Syria. It has to be understood that if al-Nusra leads the opposition on the battlefield, it will call the tune at the talks on the side of the opposition. We must not allow them dictate to Syria and the world.

On its part, Russia will continue working towards a political settlement in Syria through talks between Damascus and the opposition based on respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Syria and compliance with UN Security Council resolutions.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.