Many sovereign nations became entangled in the rivalry between two “superpowers,” the USA and the USSR/Russia. They became the middle ground for both rival nations to demonstrate their ugly show of strength.
In an attempt to win the narrative war, they cared less about the catastrophic outcome they yielded in the host nation. Gladly, things are changing with India stepping up and assuming its charge as a ‘responsible power.’ The best example of this beyond our neighbouring nations is being witnessed in Syria.
‘Constructive Power’ of the World, India, comes to rescue Syrians
For a decade now, Syrians have witnessed the political arm-twisting of two rival superpowers amid socio-political and humanitarian crises. Apart from that, Syria also became a hotbed for terrorists.
The United States, with the assistance of Turkey, has been recklessly using power to topple President Bashar al-Assad’s government. Contrarily, Russia provides assistance to the Syrian government. As a result, Assad’s government has resisted attempts to change the power dynamics while also addressing the threat of terrorism to some extent. But in this heavy mix of power tussles and chaos, humanitarian assistance and infrastructure development projects took a back seat.
Understanding the needs of common Syrian citizens, India has been providing assistance to the war-torn nation on a great scale. This was recently highlighted by Ruchira Kamboj, India’s Permanent Ambassador to the United Nations.
India provides financial help to Syria
She informed that India has offered lines of credit (LOC) worth USD 280 million to Syria. This assistance is provided to build a power plant and a steel plant in Syria.
She said, “India has offered Lines of Credit worth USD 280 million to Syria for building a power plant and a steel plant. A Next-Gen Centre for Information Technology was set up in Damascus in October 2021. About 1500 scholarships have been provided to Syrian students to study in India in diverse streams, including 200 scholarships in the current academic year itself.”
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Further, she added, India has been extending humanitarian, technical, and developmental assistance to Syria through bilateral as well as multilateral channels. Additionally, India has been regularly sending consignments of food and medicines to Syria, even during the time of the COVID pandemic. Ms. Ruchira Kamboj made these remarks while addressing the UNSC session on Syria’s political and humanitarian situation.
India’s stand on the Syrian political crisis
Just like in Afghanistan, in Syria too, India has been stressing on the Syrian-led and Syrian-owned political process. A process that will be in line with UNSC Resolution 2254, which was adopted in 2015. This means a process that provides a firm commitment to the sovereignty, independence, unity, and territorial integrity of the Syrian Arab Republic.
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India’s financial and humanitarian assistance has been well received by the Syrian people and its government. On several occasions, its Foreign Minister Fayssal Mekdad has stated that India stood by Syria during difficult times. In November 2022, he delivered a special address at the Manohar Parrikar Institute for Defense Studies and Analyses (MP-IDSA) in New Delhi. In his address, he talked about the current situation in Syria.
Accusing the US and Turkey of supporting anti-Syrian groups, the Syrian Foreign Minister called for a new world order. Back then, he said, “We can’t import wheat and we can’t grow sufficient food as the U.S. is occupying northeastern parts of Syria. Our oil wells are in northeast Syria and the Americans are selling oil from that area to Turkey and separatist groups”.
During his visit, the Syrian FM met Indian Foreign Minister Dr. S. Jaishankar. Indian Foreign Minister assured his counterpart of “humanitarian support,” including the supply of medicines and artificial limbs to Syria.
India rakes the issue of terrorism and sovereignty concerns of Syria
Notably, Indian Ambassador Ruchira Kamboj too highlighted some of the above-mentioned issues in Syria in her address.
She said, “In recent weeks, the security situation particularly in northeast Syria has worsened. Moreover, the activities of terrorist outfits are on the rise. We have also seen military operations inside Syria carried out by a neighbour. We express concerns over such unilateral actions violating Syria’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. We believe that the withdrawal of all foreign forces is essential to achieve a nationwide ceasefire. We note the recent meeting of the Ceasefire Task Force and hope that the parties will take steps towards cessation of hostilities”.
Apart from the issue of terrorism, the Indian Ambassador made a bold statement that humanitarian assistance cannot be a matter of political expediency.
Right from providing financial and humanitarian assistance, support in fighting terrorism, and speaking for a Syrian-led political system, India has been helping Syria in all manners possible to rebuild a war-torn nation wrecked by the infighting of two reckless powers. Time and again, India has shown that power should be used to help build nations rather than destroying it and then running frantically at their own created chaos.
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