People’s Rights and Half a Decade of US Direct Intervention in Syria: Page 2 of 3

Posted on 24 March 2017

allies – France, UK, Turkey, UAE, among others -- have conducted a total of 7,592 airstrikes in Syria as of March 14, 2017, with the US dominating this number at 7,229 airstrikes. [15]

The Syrian President al-Assad has described US forces in Syria as “invaders,” and cited the multiple US military interventions and wars which only worsened conflicts in countries. [16]

On March 9, 2017, the US has deployed Marines in Syrian territory, to fight ISIS forces and reclaim the ISIS-controlled area of Raqqa. [17]

Later on March 16, 2017, the US was accused of hitting a mosque and killing civilians, as the US supposedly attacked a meeting of al Qaeda members in Syria. [18] Another airstrike on March 22 hit a school being used as a refugee shelter. [19]

Did the US violate people’s rights through their direct intervention?

Right to existence and life

US airstrikes, supposedlydirected against ISIS,run a real risk of also killing innocent civilians, given how members of ISIS in Syria prefer to live and organise in residential buildings, instead of camps typical of Al Qaeda in the past. [20]

According to the UK-based monitor Syria Observatory for Human Rights, these airstrikes have resulted to around 2,400 deaths, with 467 civilians, as of January 2017. [21]

Right to self-determination

Under the Algiers Declaration on the Rights of Peoples, the people have the right to determine their political status without foreign interference and to break from direct or indirect foreign domination. Self-determination is also affirmed as a right in the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights of the UN. [22]

The US and its coalition’s support for opposition forces during the first few years of the conflict was its means of pushing regime change in Syria. This interference in what has previously been an internal conflict between the Syrian government and opposition violated the right of the Syrian people to freely determine their political status.

The US towards the end of the Obama administration had to later change its strategy by focusing on ISIS/ISIL forces instead of the government, still unauthorized by the government of Syria. The origins of ISIS itself could be traced in US decisions made during its conquest and invasion of Iraq in the early 21 st century in the “war on terror.” [23]

Economic rights, right to development

Right to development is also upheld in the Algiers Declaration, and enshrined in a 1986 UN Declaration. [24] This right includes states’ role in creating national and international conditions conducive to development; and as a corollary, in also eliminating violations of peoples’ rights under oppressive situations such as foreign domination. [25]

In targeting ISIS in Syria, US airstrikes added to the destruction of infrastructure that are needed for the Syrian economy to function. [26] The US and its allies’ economic and financial sanctions on Syria also violate the people’s right to pursue their own developmentwithout any foreign interference.

Additional US sanctions against Syria prohibited any new investments; the provision of services; and the export of oil and most US goods to Syria. [27][28] Exceptions

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