Crisis in Syria

Sir, – Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney described Syria as "challenging and difficult" in response to a question from a Syrian refugee at the Institute of International and European Affairs on Friday who sought action regarding the tens of thousands disappeared by the Assad regime ("Coveney plans to travel to Moscow and Tehran to work on Syria solution", News, January 22nd).

However, it is fair to ask why it is challenging and difficult, and Mr Coveney did not dodge that question and offered as a reason the veto power of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council as the root of the problem. Indeed, while offering as an example the failure to deal with the use of chemical weapons by the Assad regime, he implicitly criticised Russia as it has consistently protected the regime from censure.

The failure of the UN Security Council to address the slaughter of peaceful protesters by Assad when the Arab Spring dawned in Syria in 2011 illustrates how Russia has repeatedly used the veto, often backed by China, to protect his regime since then. Today well over five hundred thousand are dead, half of the country’s population has been forced to flee their homes, and over six million Syrians are refugees and are afraid to return out of fear of the regime as Assad and his henchmen have made it clear they do not want them back.

One must welcome that Mr Coveney recognises the threat posed to the huge internally displaced population in Idlib, many forced to flee multiple times to escape Assad and Vladimir Putin’s bombers, through Russia’s bid to close the last remaining cross-border aid supply route to them. However, the real aid scandal is that to gain access to Syria, the UN handed over control of all aid to Assad and his henchmen, and lobbying Moscow not to veto maintaining that crossing as a strategy should be replaced by demanding that all aid be halted to Syria if that crossing is closed. Assad would not survive failing to provide for his supporters. Why has that threat never been made? – Yours, etc,



(Director, Syria –

The Impossible Revolution),

Dublin 3.