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Predictable and Unexpected Compromise: UN Humanitarian Aid Comes to Syria for Another Year

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Pavel K. Baev

Shifts in regional impacts on the Syrian conflict zone determined Russia’s flexible stance in the debates in the UN Security Council on the issue of humanitarian aid. The compromise that has left one cross-border channel open was achieved through a bilateral US-Russia deal, but Ireland and Norway performed the work on preparing the resolution. Post-war reconstruction in Syria is progressing slowly, and Russia is concerned about the stability of the al-Assad regime. Most external stake-holders are content with the current situation, but economic dislocation and insufficiency of international aid generate discontent and amplify new sources of conflict. By mid-2022, follow-up debates in the UN Security Council may reflect a new escalation of the Syrian war.

Brief Points

  • Russia reckons international aid is crucial for ensuring the stability of the al-Assad regime and so has to agree on keeping the cross-border channel into the rebel-controlled Idlib province open.

  • External stake-holders tend to see the current situation in Syria as acceptable, but it remains fragile due to lack of funding for post-war reconstruction.

  • Continuation of US military presence in Iraq and Syria is uncertain, and Russia tries both to put pressure on and to cultivate dialogue with the USA.

  • Follow-on debates in the UN Security Council could encounter a more rigid stance by Russia as a new escalation of hostilities in Syria becomes more probable.