Watch Armenia Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan Speech at the UN General Assembly
The UN Security Council adopted a resolution demanding that the countries in the Syrian conflict end the fighting for at least 30 days to provide humanitarian aid to the population.
The document was supported by all 15 Security Council member states.
The resolution insists that “all countries should immediately cease military action” and abide by “the humanitarian pause for at least 30 days across Syria.” This will create conditions for the “immediate delivery of humanitarian aid” to the population, as well as “the evacuation of seriously ill and injured,” the document says. According to the resolution, the ceasefire will not apply to operations against the Islamic State and other terrorist organizations.
BAGHDAD — The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) has agreed to lift sanctions imposed on Iraq when the country invaded Kuwait 27 years ago.
The Iraqi Foreign Ministry said Dec. 9 the country had completed its obligations under the sanctions, which were imposed in 1990 when dictator Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait. The UNSC levied the penalties after naming Iraq a threat to international security and ordered it to pay reparations to states and other parties that suffered as a result of the invasion.
Some 27 years later, Iraq is still suffering the effects of the invasion. Hisham al-Rukabi, the head of Vice President Nouri al-Maliki’s press office, told Al-Monitor that the Iraqi people welcomed the recent UN decision.
Saad al-Hadithi, the spokesman for Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, said the move is “an important event in Iraq’s recent history and the closing of a painful [age] that lasted a long time, during which the Iraqi people suffered reduced sovereignty as well as political and economic sanctions that damaged the country’s institutions as well as individuals.”
Lifting the sanctions, he said, “will make Iraq more able to develop and achieve prosperity for its citizens, and restore the world’s trust so it can deal with Iraq as a fully sovereign nation.”
He predicted the decision will allow Iraq to play a greater political and economic role in the Middle East, experience an economic recovery and attract new investment.
Iraq has long suffered the consequences of the sanctions, which were enforced militarily any time Iraq posed a threat to international peace. The country was economically cut off from the world, and its sea, air, land and communications links were severed. Its diplomatic relations with other states were cut, and it lost control of its financial resources and oil exports, which were placed under UN supervision under the oil for food program. A significant proportion of its revenues were used to pay states harmed by its Kuwait invasion.
“Iraq paid reparations to the states that were environmentally and economically harmed by the war, including Israel and Jordan,” but its reparations stalled in 2014 because of the fall in oil prices, according to legal expert Tareq Harb. “The government’s deal with Kuwait to pay the remainder of reparations in the form of gas exported via Basra prompted Kuwait to report to the UN that Iraq was fulfilling its obligations, resulting in a resolution in Iraq’s favor.”
Kuwaiti Oil Minister Essam al-Marzouq said Dec. 10 that the 10-year deal with Iraq provides for imports of 50 million cubic feet of natural gas a day in the first stage, later rising to 200 million. The deal appears to have been the key factor that persuaded Kuwait to call for the UN to lift the sanctions.
Iraqi parliament member Jassem Mohammad Jaafar, who is close to Abadi, gave Al-Monitor more details on the deal. “Before the sanctions were lifted, Iraq was not even able to open foreign bank accounts in the name of the government, and its economic and financial contracts and commercial activities were conducted through intermediaries in order to avoid lawsuits. That cost the Iraqi treasury enormously,” he said.
“From now on, Iraq can manage the legal and technical aspects of its financial resources itself — along with everything relating to deposits and foreign real estate holdings — and dispose of its own affairs,” he said. “Other countries will no longer hesitate to invest in Iraq, and foreign firms will be encouraged, as Iraq is an oil-rich country and also has major gas reserves and swathes of agricultural land that could be very profitable.”
Iraqi writer and analyst Wathiq al-Jabari, a member of the Tanmiya Center, told Al-Monitor that the resolution will have “positive social effects.”
“All efforts to freeze Iraqi funds in international banks have ended, which will enhance Iraq’s financial standing and its creditworthiness,” he said.
The decision to lift sanctions coincided with Abadi’s announcement Dec. 9 that the fight against the Islamic State was over and security and stability had returned to Iraq. He also played up the country’s investment climate now that it can once again work with international firms and banks. With its vast oil reserves, Iraq can look forward to an economic revival, providing the government is able to bring stability and work fast to stamp out violence and terrorism.
Armenia should not have taken part in the United Nations’ voting over the resolution warning against any diplomatic efforts to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, the director on the analytical center on Globalisation and Regional Cooperation said today, commenting on the country’s political stance on the document.
Speaking to Tert.am, Stepan Grigoryan addressed also the Foreign Ministry’s statement which he said was absolutely adequate and neutrally-worded.
Asked whether US President Donald Trump’s landmark statement made earlier this month may impact the US entry visa policies and different funding projects in Armenia, the analyst said he doesn’t expect any serious developments. “I don’t think it will impact the visa issuance procedures, but if Trump is as good as his word, we may certainly become vulnerable a little bit. It is an open secret that EU and the United States [are the only superpowers] offering assistance to Armenia. We must be honest enough to admit that,” he added.
Grigoryan noted that the US assistance to Armenia is not limited only to financial resources as they provides also considerable technical supplies to the country to promote technological development.
“I am hopeful we are not going into those big games; so they [the US] may not focus too much attention on us,” he added.
Meantime the expert considered the United States’ reaction absolutely justified, noting that the country largely responsible for generating the UN funds for most different projects.
Ahead of the United Nations General Assembly, House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-CA) and Ranking Member Eliot Engel (D-NY) sent a letter to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson asking him to take steps to prevent another violent incident involving Turkish security
“In anticipation of the 72nd regular session of the United Nations General Assembly on September 12, 2017, we are writing to ask you to take steps to ensure that there is not another violent incident involving the security detail of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan or other Turkish officials,” Royce and Engel write.
U.S. must ensure that the Turkish police and security personnel respect the laws of the United States and refrain from any aggressive actions, the lawmakers said, asking Secretary of State to reiterate “these expectations to the highest levels of the Turkish government”.
“Mr. Secretary, foreign officials, including security personnel, must respect U.S. law while visiting this country. Those who fail to do so must only be allowed to return to the United States to face the charges against them,” the letter says.
DAMASCUS,— The Syrian government has called on the United Nations to force Turkey to pull “its invasion forces” out of Syria, state media said on Friday.
Turkey’s military shelled Syrian government forces and their allies in northern Syria on Thursday, causing deaths and injuries, state-run SANA news agency reported.
Turkey launched its first major military incursion into northern Syria on August 24, 2016, deploying tanks and air power in support of rebel groups of Free Syrian Army FSA opposed to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Turkey’s operation aims to stop the Kurdish YPG forces from extending areas under their control and connecting Syrian Kurdistan’s Kobani and Hasaka in the east with Afrin canton in the west and cleaning the border area from Islamic State..
Syria’s foreign ministry urged the U.N. secretary general and security council to “force Turkey to withdraw its invasion forces from Syrian land and stop the attacks”, SANA said.
The Syrian government blames Turkey for “killing tens of thousands of its innocent sons and destroying Syrian infrastructure”, it added.
Northern Syria has become an increasingly complex battlefield in the multi-sided war, with the Russian-backed Syrian army, Turkish-backed rebels and U.S.-backed militias all waging separate campaigns against Islamic State.
Ankara is particularly concerned about the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia which it considers to be an extension of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) that has fought a three-decade insurgency inside Turkey.
Turkey fears the creation of an autonomous Kurdish region in Syrian Kurdistan — similar to the Kurdish region in Iraqi Kurdistan — would spur the separatist ambitions of Turkey’s own Kurds.
Syrian Kurdistan’s ruling PYD party has established three autonomous zones, or Cantons of Jazeera, Kobani and Afrin and a Kurdish government across Syrian Kurdistan in 2013. On March 17, 2016 Syria’s Kurds declared a federal region in Syrian Kurdistan. On Dec. 30, 2016 Syrian Kurds approved a blueprint for a system of federal government in Syrian Kurdistan, reaffirming their plans for autonomy in areas they have controlled during the civil war.
Russia and China have blocked a push by Western governments at the United Nations to punish the Syrian government over chemical weapons attacks, the latest in a string of vetoes by Moscow and Beijing on resolutions about the six-year-old conflict.
The February 28 veto of a UN Security Council resolution calling for sanctions against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s government raised criticism from Western powers and international rights watchdogs.
The resolution had been backed by Western governments in response to the conclusions of the UN and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) that Assad’s forces were responsible for toxic gas attacks and that Islamic State (IS) militants had deployed mustard gas.
Assad’s government denies responsibility for any chemical weapons attacks, and Russia — Assad’s chief backer — has expressed skepticism about the findings of the inquiry.
The proposed resolution called for sanctions against Syrian officials, military commanders, companies, and other entities allegedly involved in chemical weapons attacks in Syria.
The resolution reached the threshold of support from nine of the Security Council’s 15 members needed to be passed.
But the vetoes by permanent members Russia and China — their seventh and sixth, respectively, on Syria since the war erupted there in 2011 — prevented its approval.
The vote marked one of the first standoffs at the UN between Moscow and Washington since the inauguration of U.S. President Donald Trump, who has said he would like to cooperate with Russia to fight IS extremists in Syria.
Western governments delivered scathing criticism of Russia after the vote.
Trump’s ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, said: “It is a sad day on the Security Council when members start making excuses for other member states killing their own people.”
French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said Moscow bears “heavy responsibility towards the Syrian people and humanity as a whole.”
Ayrault voiced “deep regret” that the Security Council could not pass the resolution.
“It is crucial that we do not let the crimes of those who choose to use such weapons go unpunished,” Ayrault said. “This is why France took the initiative, with its partners, on this resolution.”
Moscow’s Deputy Ambassador to the UN Vladimir Safronkov denounced criticism of Russia at the council as “outrageous” and called the resolution a “provocation” by the Western “troika” — a reference to the governments behind the document: Britain, France, and the United States.
“Today’s clash or confrontation is not a result of our negative vote,” Safronkov said. “It is a result of the fact that you decided on provocation while you knew well ahead of time our position.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin said ahead of the vote on February 28 that the sanctions “are not acceptable now” because they would hamper peace talks.
The vetoes by Russia and China also drew sharp criticism from rights activists, with the New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) calling their votes a “cynical decision.”
Louis Charbonneau, the United Nations director for HRW, said that “in the wake of Russia’s seventh veto on a Syria resolution, UN member states should explore and pursue alternate avenues for accountability for the serious crimes of the Syrian government.”
The presence of Turkish troops on a potentially reunited Cyprus has split leaders taking part in UN-sponsored talks. Ankara has said a Greek Cypriot call for Turkish troops to leave the island was “out of the question.”
After a week-long conference in Geneva on the possible reconciliation of Cyprus’ Greek and Turkish halves, statements from Greek Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan have left a possible reunification in serious doubt. At the center of the disagreement are the approximately 30,000 Turkish troops stationed on the island.
“Our position remains… that we must agree on the withdrawal of the Turkish army,” Anastasiades told reporters in Geneva on Friday.
The Greek Cypriot foreign minister, Nikos Kotzias, also said there was no way to reunify the island while “occupation” troops are still stationed on it.
“A just solution [to division] means, first of all, eliminating what caused it, namely the occupation and presence of occupation forces,” Kotzias said.
At the same, Erdogan said the removal of all Turkish troops from northern Cyprus was “out of the question.”
The Turkish president’s strong words came after Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu gave reporters a more muted statement Thursday night, telling them that “the reality is that Turkey’s guarantorship is vital to Turkish Cypriot people” and that troops are “a force of stability” that must remain on the island.
The 1960 Treaty of Guarantee gave both Greece and Turkey along with Great Britain the right to intervene in the Republic of Cyprus in order to defend the new nation’s sovereignty. Ankara justified its 1974 invasion of the island on these grounds. Since then, Cyprus has remained divided between an internationally recognized Greek south and the north, which is recognized only by Turkey.
Though Greece and Greek Cypriots would like to see the guarantor system abolished, Erdogan also pushed that possibility aside.
“We have told Cyprus and Greece clearly that they should not expect a solution without Turkey as guarantor,” the Turkish leader told reporters Friday in Istanbul. “We are going to be there forever.”
Nevertheless, the Greek Cypriot president and other international leaders remain cautiously hopeful that the Geneva conference will provide clear steps to end to the island’s division.
“We are on a path that creates hope,” Anastasiades told reporters in Geneva after talking with his Turkish Cypriot counterpart Mustafa Akinci.
British Foreign Minister Boris Johnson, who also attended the conference, said real progress has been made.”
“With continued commitment and political will, I believe a historical agreement is within reach,” he said in a statement. Britain would agree to abolish the guarantor system and remove its military from the island if requested by Cyprus to do so. Cyprus was a British protectorate and Crown Colony from 1878 through 1960.
The Geneva Conference also marked the first foreign trip of Antonio Guterres in his new position as Secretary-General of the United Nations. He said a final peace agreement was “close” but that there would not be a “quick fix,” noting that implementing and securing an enduring peace deal would take significant work.
“You cannot expect miracles or immediate solutions,” Guterres said. “We are looking for a solid sustainable solution.”
Officials from involved parties will come together again on January 18 to work on technical security issues while simultaneous negotiations over still-contested issues such as land swaps and the composition of a unified government take place.
The United Nations says at least 6,878 Iraqi civilians lost their lives last year due to violence perpetrated by Takfiri terrorists in the Arab country.
The United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) said in a statement that 12,388 other civilians were injured in 2016.
UNAMI noted that the numbers “have to be considered as the absolute minimum,” citing its inability to verify civilian casualties in conflict areas as well as those who “died from secondary effects of violence after having fled their homes due to exposure to the elements, lack of water, food, medicines and health care.”
Furthermore, the data did not include casualties among civilians in Iraq’s western Anbar Province for the months of May, July, August and December, it added.
The figures further showed that only in December 2016, a total of 386 civilians were killed and 1,066 more wounded in Iraq, with the worst affected areas being Nineveh Province and the capital city of Baghdad in descending order.
Violence had claimed the lives of at least 7,515 civilians in Iraq in 2015, according UNAMI figures.
Over the past months, Iraq has been rocked by a wave of bomb attacks, mostly claimed by the Takfiri Daesh terrorist group.
The militants have recently increased their acts of violence across the country in revenge for the blows they have been suffering at the hands of Iraqi forces, particularly in the northern city of Mosul.
“This is, no doubt, an attempt by Daesh to divert attention from their losses in Mosul and, unfortunately, it is the innocent civilians who are paying the price,” said Jan Kubis, the special representative of UN Secretary General in Iraq and UNAMI head.
Daesh began its campaign of terror in northern and western Iraq in 2014.
Iraqi army soldiers and allied fighters are leading operations to win back militant-held regions.
YEREVAN. – The United Nations (UN) Office in Armenia on Monday issued a statement condemning the recent cases of violence against women in capital city Yerevan.
“The United Nations in Armenia strongly condemns the recent cases of violence against women in Yerevan and widely reported by media and social networks.
“In one instance, on 25 November 2016, a 37 year-old woman was fatally wounded by her partner in Shengavit administrative district, while in another case, on 26 November 2016, a woman was brutally beaten by her spouse during the day on Teryan Street in front of many passersby.
“It is a brutal and sad irony that this happened during the days when the United Nations, together with international partners, national authorities and civil society, is observing the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-based Violence, a campaign that runs annually from 25 November to 10 December.
“Stopping domestic violence, which is a serious violation of human rights, and bringing perpetrators to justice must be a priority not only for law-enforcement bodies, but for each and every citizen in our society. Indifference is as unacceptable as the crime itself, and the United Nations is determined to play its own part by ensuring that such cases are not left unpunished.
“These cases once again prove the urgency of adopting the Law on Domestic Violence, and we urge our partners, the Government and the Parliament of Armenia, to bring this legal protection mechanism to life as soon as possible. Any further delays may cost more lives,” the UN in Armenia statement reads.