Syria’s last aid crossing in balance as Biden to meet Putin

Jun 14, 2021, 9:19 PM | Updated: Jun 15, 2021, 12:45 am

President Joe Biden will seek to stave off another surge of civilian suffering in the devastating war in Syria when he meets President Vladimir Putin this week, appealing to Putin to drop a threat to close the last aid crossing into that country.

Russian forces have helped Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime survive the more than 10-year conflict and Putin hopes to be a broker for Assad in any international reconstruction effort for that country. Russia holds the key veto on July 10 when the U.N. Security Council decides whether to extend authorization for the aid crossing from Turkey.

Putin meets with the American president in Geneva on Wednesday in their first face-to-face since Biden took office. The Russian leader already has pressed successfully for shutting down all other international humanitarian crossings into Syria, and argues that Assad should handle the distribution of any aid.

The aid crossing from Turkey into rebel-held northwest Syria serves up to 4 million people in Syria’s last remaining rebel stronghold. A decade of civil war in the Middle East country has killed a half-million people, displaced half of the population, drawn in foreign armies and extremist groups and left the economy in ruins.

Shutting down the international aid corridor and putting Assad’s government in charge of any humanitarian distribution would help position Assad as the winner in the war and Syria’s rightful ruler in the aftermath, and deepen the regional influence of Assad’s ally, Russia, in any rebuilding of Syria.

“Assistance should be given through the central government,” Putin told NBC News in an interview ahead of his meeting with Biden.

If there are fears that the assistance would be stolen, aid groups can post observers, the Russian leader said.

Opponents say Assad’s regime has not hesitated to use civilian starvation and siege as a weapon in the war, and fear a destabilizing surge of refugees into neighboring Turkey if the crossing shuts down.

The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, visited the threatened Bab al-Hawa border crossing between Turkey and rebel-held northwest Syria earlier this month to warn that closing it would bring “senseless cruelty.”

Turkey, which already holds close to 4 million Syrian refugees, joins the U.S. in opposing closure of the crossing.

Mona Yacoubian, a senior adviser for the U.S. Institute of Peace think tank, said closing the Bab al Hawa aid crossing could “precipitate this humanitarian catastrophe” and a destabilizing surge of refugees.

Biden’s possible points of leverage with Putin, Yacoubian said, could include stressing the harm that a new round of civilian suffering in Syria could do to Russia’s image as it positions itself to oversee hoped-for Arab and other international aid to rebuild Syria.

There also could be consideration of granting humanitarian waivers on sanctions that the United States and others have levied on the Assad regime, Yacoubian said.

Russia argues that U.S. support for what started out as a peaceful uprising in Syria, and condemnation of Assad’s and other repressive governments during the Arab Spring, fostered instability and violence and boosted Islamic extremist groups.

Many in Biden’s administration were also in the Obama administration when it considered, but held back from, military intervention to stop Assad’s chemical attacks on civilians. They have since expressed regret that the United States’ overall handling of the conflict failed to stop the bloodshed.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Mitzi Rivas, left, hugs her daughter Maya Iribarren during an abortion-rights protest at City Hall ...
Associated Press

Supreme Court’s abortion ruling sets off new court fights

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Judges temporarily blocked abortion bans Monday in Louisiana and Utah, while a federal court in South Carolina said a law sharply restricting the procedure would take effect there immediately as the battle over whether women may end pregnancies shifted from the nation’s highest court to courthouses around the country. The U.S. […]
18 hours ago
FILE - President Joe Biden speaks on the White House campus, June 17, 2022, in Washington. The Bide...
Associated Press

Biden aims at China in new illegal fishing policy framework

LISBON, Portugal (AP) — The Biden administration is stepping up efforts to combat illegal fishing by China, ordering federal agencies to better coordinate among themselves as well as with foreign partners in a bid to promote sustainable exploitation of the world’s oceans. On Monday, the White House released its first ever National Security memo on […]
18 hours ago
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents gather before a raid to arrest immigrants considere...
Associated Press

Biden suspends rules limiting immigrant arrest, deportation

BOSTON (AP) — The Biden administration, reacting to a federal court ruling in Texas, has suspended an order that had focused resources for the arrest and deportation of immigrants on those who are considered a threat to public safety and national security. The Department of Homeland Security said in a statement Saturday it will abide […]
18 hours ago
An American flag waves in front of the U.S. Supreme Court building, Monday, June 27, 2022, in Washi...
Associated Press

Supreme Court backs coach in praying on field after games

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court said Monday that a high school football coach who knelt and prayed on the field after games was protected by the Constitution, a decision that opponents said would open the door to “much more coercive prayer” in public schools. The court ruled 6-3 for the coach with the conservative […]
18 hours ago
Associated Press

US officials return to Venezuela amid gas price hike

CLEVELAND, Ohio (AP) — Senior Biden administration officials have quietly traveled to Caracas in the latest bid to rebuild relations with the South American oil giant as the war in Ukraine drags on, driving higher gas prices and forcing the U.S. to recalibrate other foreign policy objectives. The delegation that arrived Monday in Caracas includes […]
18 hours ago
The Colorado River winds its way along the West Rim of the Grand Canyon in the Hualapai Indian Rese...
Associated Press

Grand Canyon starting water limitations after pumphouse outage

Grand Canyon National Park is starting water conservation measures on the North Rim due to an electrical failure involving the Roaring Springs pumphouse.
18 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

(Courtesy Condor)...
Condor Airlines

Condor Airlines shows passion for destinations from Sky Harbor with new-look aircraft

Condor Airlines brings passion to each flight and connects people to their dream destinations throughout the world.
...
Carla Berg, MHS, Deputy Director, Public Health Services, Arizona Department of Health Services

Update your child’s vaccines before kindergarten

So, your little one starts kindergarten soon. How exciting! You still have a few months before the school year starts, so now’s the time to make sure students-to-be have the vaccines needed to stay safe as they head into a new chapter of life.
...
Canvas Annuity

The secret to guaranteed retirement income

Annuities aren’t really a secret, but they are so misunderstood that they might as well be. Once you understand what an annuity is and how it can benefit you, you could decide this “secret” is the perfect supplement to your retirement plan.
Syria’s last aid crossing in balance as Biden to meet Putin