Chemical weapons in Syria ‘most politicized’ case at UN: UAE envoy
Over the course of the 11-year war, Damascus has been repeatedly accused, without sufficient evidence, of using chemical warfare against its people
By News Desk - January 06 2023

(Photo credit: The National)

The UAE’s permanent envoy to the UN, Lana Zaki Nusseibeh, said on 6 January during a session at the agency’s headquarters in New York that the issue of chemical weapons in Syria has been one of the most “politicized” cases among the Security Council.

Nusseibeh called on all parties present in the Security Council to deal with the matter professionally, and in a spirit of ‘technicality,’ in line with the “non-politicization” policy of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).

“During this month in 1993, the Secretary-General opened the door for signing the Convention on the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons in Paris, and 130 countries signed it at that time, indicating the existence of a broad consensus in the international community,” Nusseibeh told the UN.

“Today, unfortunately, the Syrian chemical file is still one of the most politicized cases in this council, [something] we noticed during the first half of our membership in the Security Council,” she added.

The Emirati envoy also renewed the UAE’s firm stance against the use of chemical weapons “under any circumstances by anyone and in any place,” adding that the only way to move forward with this matter at the Security Council is through “constructive dialogue.”

During the session, Syria’s envoy to the UN, Bassam Sabbagh, emphasized Damascus’ consistent cooperation with the OPCW – aimed at closing the file once and for all – and called on all member states to deal with the issue professionally and impartially and not to “jump to preconceived conclusions.”

Syria gave up all chemical weapons in 2013 and joined the Chemical Weapons Convention after a sarin attack in the southwestern town of Ghouta left dozens dead. The attack was widely believed to be carried out by the Syrian government, which placed the blame on extremist opposition groups. In 2014, an investigative report by journalist Seymour Hersh confirmed the opposition’s possession of chemical weapons at the time.

A deadly 2017 attack in Idlib’s Khan Sheikhoun was also blamed on Damascus. This happened when the Syrian army was in an offensive position and had liberated significant swathes of territory, with experts suggesting that Syria had no motive for launching the attack.

In 2019, a year after Damascus was accused of yet another chemical attack in Douma, a report by MintPress News revealed that several journalists from a number of mainstream agencies had concluded that the attack was staged.

Additionally, it was revealed that the OPCW concealed the results of its fact-finding mission deployed to Syria to investigate the purported attack in Douma. The report contained information that questioned the alleged attack and was initially brought to light by an OPCW whistleblower.

Despite Abu Dhabi’s role in instigating the Syrian conflict through its support for armed opposition groups, as well as its spread of misinformation about the war through UAE-funded think tanks such as the Middle East Institute (MEI), the Emirati government has recently taken a diplomatic approach with Damascus and called for Syria’s return to the regional fold.

The UAE envoy’s latest comments at the UN signify the Gulf country’s new approach to Syria, and its willingness to end the conflict through dialogue, as well as a political solution.

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