Off the Hook: Turkey continues Afrin operation despite UNSC resolution
Although the UN Security Council has called for a 30-day nationwide ceasefire "by all the parties" engaged in military activities inside Syria, the government of Turkey has self-servingly ignored it and claimed, quite erroneously, that it does not cover its military operation, code named Olive Branch.
The Turkish position is patently false and represents a deliberate misinterpretation of UNSC Resolution 2401 that was adopted unanimously on February 24th. This Resolution allows for continued military action only against the terrorist groups as designated by the UN. It states in part:
"Affirms that the cessation of hostilities shall not apply to military operations against the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as Da’esh), Al Qaeda and Al Nusra Front (ANF), and all other individuals, groups, undertakings and entities associated with Al Qaeda or ISIL, and other terrorist groups, as designated by the Security Council."
But, the problem with Turkey's position is that neither of the two principal Kurdish groups targeted by its military at the present moment, that is, PKK and YPD, are designated as terrorist by the UN Security Council. Therefore, Turkey is plain wrong in insisting that it can continue its illegal invasion of Syria under the guise of combating terrorism and thus to obviate the need to comply with the will of the Security Council. As a UN member, Turkey is legally obligated to follow the decisions of the Security Council and, henceforth, it is incumbent on the Turkish government to cease its military operation for the 30-day duration requested by the said Resolution. This Resolution also "[c]alls upon all parties to immediately lift the sieges of populated areas," which clearly means the town of Afrin as well, home to tens of thousands of internal refugees in addition to its own population. Afrin and the surrounding areas are increasingly in dire need of food and medical supply and the application of ceasefire would bring much needed humanitarian assistance to the hundreds of thousands of people presently under Turkish siege.
Turkey's offensive against Afrin is now imminent, aided by terrorist groups dressed as Free Syrian Army, bound to exact a heavy civilian toll. If Turkey continues to ignore the call by the international community to suspend its attacks on the Syrian Kurds, in light of a similar EU condemnation, then sanctions should be imposed on Turkey, including an arms embargo, for flouting the international law.
Unfortunately, both the US and other Western governments particularly in Europe appear to be willing to keep a blind eye to Turkey's unlawful military occupation of a part of Syria and its arrogant total disregard for the Security Council, focusing instead on the situation in Eastern Ghouta, where UN-designated terrorist groups are shelling Damascus on a daily basis. Letting Turkey off the hook is without doubt the wrong thing to do and reflects a hypocritical double standard that can only harm the image of the United Nations, in light of the absence of any statement by the UN Secretary General concerning Afrin. This egregious shortcoming on the part of Mr. Antonio Guterres is indeed quite astounding, and demoralizing. The UN chief ought to know that applying double standards with respect to a conflict-ridden country does not serve the interests of peace nor, for that matter, the image and prestige of his office.