Walid Almoualem, Deputy Prime Minister of the Syrian Arab Republic. UN Photo/Paulo Filgueiras
30 September 2013 – The conflict ravaging Syria is not a civil war but a war on terror, the country’s Deputy Prime Minister said today in his turn at the rostrum at the high-level debate that opens the annual session of the United Nations General Assembly.
“There is no civil war in Syria, but it is a war against terror that recognizes no values, nor justice, nor equality, and disregards any rights or laws,” Walid Al-Moualem, who is also the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates, told the Assembly, which began its General Debate on 24 September, offering would leaders an opportunity to weigh in on issues of national and global concern.
Many of the speakers in the debate have expressed concern about the conflict in Syria, which began in March 2011 and has claimed over 100,000 lives, sent more than 2 million people fleeing for safety to neighbouring countries and displaced 4 million within the country.
“Confronting this terror in my country requires the international community to act in accordance with relevant resolutions on counter-terrorism,” Mr. Al-Moualem said, in particular “to take necessary and prompt measures to compel those well-known countries that finance, arm, train and provide a safe haven and passage for terrorists coming from different countries of the world.”
He said that Al-Qaeda and its offshoots, like Jabhat A1-Nusrah, the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, the Brigade of Islam and many others are fighting in Syria. He added that many countries did not want to recognize that fact, despite the scenes of murder, manslaughter and “eating human hearts” that were shown on TV screens.
“In Syria, Ladies and Gentlemen, there are murderers who dismember human bodies into pieces while still alive and send their limbs to their families, just because those citizens are defending a unified and secular Syria,” he said.
On the use of chemical weapons in Syria, which a UN team has confirmed and which the Security Council last week demanded be eliminated, he said that it was Syria that first requested an investigation into the use of the poisonous gasses many months ago.
He assured the Assembly of his country’s full commitment to its obligations as a State party to the Convention for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, now that a procedure had been agreed upon. In addition, he called for the establishment of a zone free of all weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East.
“However,” he added, there remained the question of “whether those who are supplying terrorists with these types of weapon will abide by their legal commitments, since terrorists, who used poisonous gases in my country, have received chemical agents from regional and Western countries that are well known to all of us.”
Affirming his Government’s desire for a political solution to the conflict, he called for a Geneva peace conference, the holding of which the UN-Arab League joint representative and various countries have been working to negotiate, to be convened without preconditions, so that Syrians along could determine the future governance of the country.
“It is now for those who claim to support a political solution in Syria to stop all hostile practices and policies against Syria, and to head to Geneva without preconditions,” he said.