Statement by Permanent Representative Vassily Nebenzia at UNSC briefing on threats to peace and security posed by US strikes against Iraq and Syria
We thank USG DiCarlo for the briefing. We have heard quite a lot of eloquent rhetoric on the USG’s part. We did not hear the most important thing though – unequivocal condemnation of violations of international law by the United States and the United Kingdom.
We thank the Guyanese Presidency for urgently calling this meeting of the Security Council under the agenda item "Threats to International Peace and Security", which we initiated to discuss yet another illegal and irresponsible action by the United States in the Middle East taking place against the backdrop of an escalation in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict zone. And Washington’s playing quite a role in this escalation, which has become unprecedented in terms of casualties.
On the night of February 2 to 3, four US Air Force F-16 tactical fighters and two B-1B Lancer supersonic strategic bombers carried out at least 85 "retaliatory strikes" on the territory of sovereign Iraq and Syria under the order of President J.Biden. The massive air strikes by the American Air Force, which killed civilians and military personnel; destroyed and damaged dozens of facilities once again demonstrated to the entire world the aggressive nature of the United States’ policy in the Middle East and Washington's complete disregard for the norms of international law.
The fact that British Royal Air Force took part in the attacks should not mislead anyone into thinking this was some kind of an international coalition. London has yet to answer for its zeal in supporting the purely provocative actions of the "big brother" in Washington. Much like the current attacks on Yemen, these actions by the Anglo-Saxons pose a direct threat to international peace and security and undermine the world order based on the rule of universal international law and the central role of the United Nations.
Perhaps such thuggish actions fit into the so-called "rules-based order". After all, as former Australian Ambassador to Iran John Lander recently said in an interview, it is "a set of ever-varying and constantly fluctuating rules devised by the United States for the benefit of the United States and its Western allies," adding that "one of the most difficult things about the rules-based order is finding out what those rules are". Since the United States insists on observing exactly this order that it and its allies find favorable (to justify, among other things, the strikes on Iraq and Syria), it becomes even more obvious that this American pseudo-legal construct has nothing to do with international law.
It is clear that the US airstrikes are specifically designed to further inflame the conflict. They target facilities and positions of the Syrian Armed Forces in the east of the country (mainly in Deir ez-Zor), where the Syrian military continues its persistent fight against what remains of ISIL, to whom Washington, contrary to its claims, is in fact providing tutelage and patronage. By attacking, almost without a pause, the facilities of allegedly pro-Iranian groups in Iraq and Syria, the United States is trying to purposefully draw major countries of the Middle East into a region-wide confrontation.
At the same time, CENTCOM claimed that their so-called operation was coordinated with the Iraqi authorities. However, the latter issued a statement where they called the US actions "another blatant aggression" and a violation of Iraqi sovereignty. They also called Washington's reports about the alleged coordination of strikes with Baghdad a deliberate lie aimed at distorting public opinion and avoiding legal responsibility. Obviously, the presence of the US-led international anti-ISIL coalition in the Republic has become a threat to the country's security and stability, as well as an attempt to involve it in regional and international conflicts.
Sure of its impunity, Washington continues to sow destruction and chaos across the Middle East. The largest US air operation in the region since 2003, presented by Joe Biden as an "act of retaliation" for a UAV attack of unidentified origin on a US base that is illegally located in Syria, cannot be justified. We perceive this saber rattling by the United States primarily as a desire to influence the political situation back at home and somehow improve the failed international image of the current US Administration in light of the presidential race that is gaining momentum. At the same time, the strategists in Washington do not seem concerned that such actions further upscale global tension and cause civilian casualties.
Recent events confirm that the US does not and has never really looked for solutions to the problems in the region. They only want to keep a dominant position in the world at any cost. That’s all the logic they are guided by. Therefore, Washington has sought and will continue to seek ways to “pour fuel into fire” and exacerbate the standing contradictions in the Middle East to the extent that benefits its ally Israel. There is absolutely no reason to count on any prudence of the American establishment and its readiness to take into account the interests of the countries of the region. On February 2 and 3, we were able to see this once again.
We strongly condemn another flagrant act of US aggression against sovereign states, which creates additional risks and increases instability in the region that is already ablaze. After all, it is quite clear that the incident on our agenda today exacerbated regional tensions ensuing from the unprecedented violence in Gaza, which has continued for four months now and was caused by Israel's brutal operation that the United States and its satellites have been covering up for as best they can. That includes blocking the efforts of the UN Security Council to establish an immediate humanitarian ceasefire. As a result, we can clearly see that the escalation has already gone far beyond the oPt, spilling over not only to the border between Israel and Lebanon, but also to the Red Sea and Yemen. It is clear that the unilateral forceful actions of Washington and its allies add to the chaos in the region. Also, such steps reduce to a zero international efforts aimed at bringing peace back to the Middle East and finding a just solution to the Palestinian problem.
We call on the international community to unequivocally condemn the irresponsible actions of Washington and its allies in the Middle East that violate the sovereignty of Iraq and Syria.