Back in July 2014, the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 2165, allowing humanitarian convoys, headed for war-torn Syria, to cross the four border-crossings of Bab al-Salam and Bab al-Hawa in Turkey, al-Ya’rubiyah in Iraq, and al-Ramtha in Jordan.
The authorization has been extended every year since then, and its current mandate was due to expire at midnight on Friday if the UNSC did not reach a last minute deal.
A few hours before its expiration, the 15-member council allowed cross-border aid deliveries to continue from two places in Turkey, but it dropped crossing points from Iraq and Jordan, and reduced it to a six-month period, instead of its usual one-year period, to avoid a Russian veto.
In December, the UN Security Council raised the issue of the renewal of the delivery system with Belgium, Kuwait, and Germany, drafting a resolution that dropped the Jordan crossing in a bid to compromise with Russia, which wanted to approve only two Turkish crossings for six months and had proposed its own draft text.
Russia and China vetoed the rival resolution, arguing that the scheme, adopted five years ago without the Syrian government’s consent, had become irrelevant by 2019.
Vassily Nebenzia, the Russian ambassador to the UN, said at the time that delivering aid from Turkey and even Iraq had been justifiable, although legally questionable, back in 2014 because many Syrian civilians lived in hard-to-reach areas controlled by terrorists back then.
However, Damascus in 2019 was strong enough to distribute humanitarian aid on its own, hence bypassing government checkpoints would be a sign of disrespect for the country’s sovereignty, he said, stressing, “We live in 2019, not in 2014.”