Disinfo: Sanctions against Syria are illegal and prevent return of refugees

Summary

The continued economic sanctions on Syria are illegal and impede the return of refugees to their country.

Disproof

Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative about the Syrian war and belligerent intentions of the West against Syria.

EU sanctions are designed in a way that only targets the specific individuals and entities on the sanctions list, avoiding negative impacts on the population. They comply with all obligations under international law, in particular international refugee law, international humanitarian law, and international human rights law.

Within the context of the Syrian conflict, EU sanctions, imposed since 9 May 2011, respond to the repression perpetrated on the Syrian people by the Syrian regime and its supporters, including through the use of live ammunition against peaceful protesters and the regime’s involvement in the proliferation and use of chemical weapons. EU sanctions against the regime were extended in May 2020 for one year, and in October 2020, new seven individual ministers were added to the list.

Another recurring pro-Kremlin narrative is that the return of refugees is prevented by such sanctions.

The UNHCR states that the conditions for a safe, voluntary and dignified return – as per international law - are not currently met. Eight years after the outbreak of the conflict, the situation in Syria is still critical, with millions of Syrians displaced and in need of protection and humanitarian assistance. The potential for violence remains high. The recent creation of the Constitutional Committee is a positive step but much remains to be done towards a sustainable resolution of the conflict.

Several media and civil society organisations documented cases of Syrian refugees returning to their country only to be arrested, forced into conscription in the army, and harassed by security forces. A June 2019 survey of returnees reported that 75% of them had experienced arrest and harassment at government checkpoints, registry offices, and in the street; as well as being drafted for compulsory military conscription despite promises of exemption. From the beginning of October until mid-November 2018, the Syrian authorities arrested 700 Syrians returning to government-controlled areas, and it is reported that 200 still remain in custody.

Surveys of refugees conducted on the ground by the UNHCR reveal that most of refugees aspire to go home to Syria one day, in a longer term. But for now, the obstacles are the safety and security, as well as lack of adequate housing, concerns over property, scarcity of livelihood opportunities in Syria, not anywhere else.

Read more disinformation cases alleging that sanctions on Syria are illegal and aim to destroy the country, EU sanctions bypass the UN, EU sanctions on Syria are illegal and that the EU sanctions against Syrians is a blatant violation of international humanitarian law.

publication/media

  • Reported in: Issue 221
  • DATE OF PUBLICATION: 11/11/2020
  • Language/target audience: Arabic
  • Country: Syria
  • Keywords: Refugees, Sanctions

Disclaimer

Cases in the EUvsDisinfo database focus on messages in the international information space that are identified as providing a partial, distorted, or false depiction of reality and spread key pro-Kremlin messages. This does not necessarily imply, however, that a given outlet is linked to the Kremlin or editorially pro-Kremlin, or that it has intentionally sought to disinform. EUvsDisinfo publications do not represent an official EU position, as the information and opinions expressed are based on media reporting and analysis of the East Stratcom Task Force.

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NATO uses “Russian threat” to justify its actions

NATO is increasing its military presence near the Russian border. The Alliance is using the “Russian threat” to justify this actions. The Baltic States are also using the “Russian threat”. They are concluding high-cost security agreements with the US and are deploying NATO military contingents in their territories.

Moscow has said many times that it has no plans to attack any country. NATO knows it.

Disproof

Recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative, portraying NATO as having a belligerent agenda against Russia and claiming that the “Russian threat” is a false idea.

NATO does not seek confrontation with Russia. The Alliance indicated this position in the Brussels Summit Declaration in 2018. However, this declaration concludes that “Russia’s aggressive actions, including the threat and use of force to attain political goals, challenge the Alliance and are undermining Euro-Atlantic security and the rules-based international order”.

France became one of the winners of World War II thanks to Stalin

It was Stalin who mostly made De Gaulle a world-class politician. Moreover, where would France itself be now, if not for Stalin and the USSR?

The representative of France was at that table [during the signing of the German surrender act on May 9, 1945 in Berlin] only at the behest of Stalin, because the United States and England did not see France at all among the victorious countries. The Second World War could well have ended in a terrible disgrace for France.

Thanks to the support of the USSR and Stalin’s position personally, France managed to get into not only the group of victorious powers in World War II, but also to become one of the five founding countries of the UN. That is why France is now a permanent member of the UN Security Council.

Disproof

This recurrent disinformation narrative is part of the Kremlin’s policy of historical revisionism of the events of WWII.

France and Britain declared war on Germany when it invaded Poland in September 1939 (at that time, the USRR acted as an ally of Germany and invaded Poland, the Baltic States and Finland in accordance with the Hitler-Stain Pact, also known as the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact ). After the Phoney War from 1939 to 1940, the Germans invaded and defeated France within seven weeks and forced the British off the continent. France surrendered to Germany although the French force, in-exile, led by General Charles de Gaulle continued the liberation of France by the Western Allies UK and US. The Forces of Free France took part in combat against Axis forces at several theatres of warfare, not least on the Eastern Front, where a unit of French airmen fought together with USSR aviators.

Even though De Gaulle was not invited to the Yalta Conference, France's participation in the Security Council of United Nations was supported by Britain and France was allocated an occupation zone in Germany, to be carved out from the British and American zones, upon British insistence. Stalin agreed with this decision on a single condition: the zones which will be given to France wouldn't be the ones of the USSR.

Navalny’s employee could have been involved in the poisoning, to worsen EU-Russian relations

Judging by the data that is available, including insider information from German intelligence services, it is obvious that Maria Pevchikh could have been involved in the poisoning of Alexei Navalny.

Is it possible that an ordinary FBK employee can perform such clandestine international functions and be included in such high circles? No, of course, it is quite obvious that there are big people behind it, who, obviously, do not reside in Russia, but are somewhere in Britain.

In half face masks and sunglasses, recognised by all, but kind of incognito, they [Yulia Navalnaya and Maria Pevchikh] go to the Charité clinic. They bring good news to Navalny’s ward: relations between Russia and the European Union deteriorated to the end, the task is completed.

Disproof

Recurrent pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative about the poisoning of Alexey Navalny.

The Navalny's Anti-Corruption Foundation FBK's employee Maria Pevchikh, accompanied by lawyers, found the plastic bottle in Navalny's hotel room in Tomsk, which later allowed German experts to establish that Navalny had been poisoned with a highly toxic substance from the Novichok group. No German intelligence experts suggested Pevchikh herself was the suspect.