Hundreds of Syrian protesters returned to Syria’s streets last week in demand of the toppling of the regime.
Qatar and the United Nations explored the latest developments in Syria on Sunday as demonstrators in the war-torn country returned to the streets to demand the ouster of the Bashar Al Assad regime.
Discussions on the Syrian crisis took place in Doha between Qatar’s Director of the Arab Affairs Department at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Nayef Al Emadi and the Deputy Special Envoy of the UN’s Secretary-General for Syria Najat Rochdi.
According to the Qatari foreign ministry, the two officials “exchanged points of view on the political and humanitarian situation in Syria.” The UN official also praised Qatar’s ongoing support for the organisation’s efforts in the war-torn country.
“Grateful to Qatar for its strong support of UN political and humanitarian efforts/resolution 2254. Appreciate very constructive meeting with [Foreign Ministry] Director of Arab Affairs Department and Doha’s endeavors to alleviate the suffering of the Syrian people,” Rochdi said in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter.
The Gulf state’s engagement with global organisations in Syria are part of efforts to provide much-needed assistance to Syrians that have been struck by Assad regime violence since 2011, triggering a major refugee crisis.
According to the UN, Syrians make up at least 6.5 million of 35.3 million refugees worldwide.
Qatar has long called for a political resolution in Syria, consistently voicing its refusal to normalise with the Assad regime. Officials in Doha say such a move would be a betrayal of the Syrian people. In May, Qatar’s Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani left the Arab League meeting ahead of Bashar Al Assad’s speech – his first such appearance since Syria was reinstated into the bloc.
Protests return to Syria
On the ground, hundreds of Syrian protesters have taken to the streets to demand the the toppling of the Assad regime in scenes that are widely reminiscent of the 2011 uprising, or the Arab Spring.
The demonstrations initially erupted in the southern Druze city of Sweida before spreading to other areas in the country including northern Aleppo, Idlib, Deir Az-Zor, and Hassakeh.
“At one point most people were neutral or unsure, but now they don’t believe their lives can improve without political change,” Rayan Maarouf, Editor-in-Chief of local activist media collective Suwayda24, told The Associated Press (AP) last week.
Demonstrators were filmed chanting slogans calling for the ouster of Assad while tearing down posters of the Syrian leader to protest a major economic downfall that has continued to worsen over the past decade.
The Syrian currency has lost more than 80% of its value in three months and prices for basic commodities skyrocketed, per a recent statement by Geir O Pedersen, special envoy of the Secretary-General for Syria.
“Prices are now spiralling out of control for essential goods such as food, medicine, fuel, basic commodities,” he said, as cited by the AP.
The Assad regime has continued to tighten its grip on Syria with impunity despite multiple disturbing findings by rights organisations pointing to the murder and torture of thousands of Syrian civilians including minors.
Qatar has long called for investigations into crimes committed by the Assad regime since the 2011 revolution.
In January, Qatar expressed its “full support” for global efforts to hold the Assad regime accountable for the “horrific” Douma chemical attack in 2018.
“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs affirms that the recent report of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, which concluded that the Syrian regime was responsible for the heinous attack on the city of Douma, reveals to the world once again the ugliness and brutality of this unscrupulous and inhumane regime,” Qatar’s foreign ministry said at the time.
The statement added that the regime “continues its horrific policy of massacres, scorched land and destroyed cities” while crossing “all red lines imposed by morals, and required by law.”