In his address to the last day of the UN General Assembly’s annual high-level debate, Mr. Mekdad stated that hegemonic countries had implemented “straightjacketed agendas”, invested in terrorism and “put economies in a stranglehold”, with no regard for international law.

“Often, they use the excuse of spreading democracy and human rights but meanwhile states have been destroyed,” he added.

The truth behind ‘smart sanctions’

“What has happened in our region is but one example. Here, the terrorists that are being supported by some countries are being referred to as ‘moderates’, when they are actually tools” used to destroy the countries [Western powers] cannot subjugate.” he stated.

Moreover, some hegemonic countries have called for “smart sanctions” when they know that such measures are a form of collective punishment and killings against people supporting the “wrong” homelands.

“This is what is happening in Syria,” Foreign Minister Mekdad stated, where access to food, fuel, medications and other basic necessities are being undermined.

The unfortunate case of Syria and other countries makes it clear that the only responsible decision would be to establish a multipolar world order where everyone is guided by the UN Charter.”

A ‘painful’ decade for Syria

“We know what we’re talking about here...because ultimately, the war on Syria was an attempt by the West to maintain control over the world,” but, he stated that attempts to isolate Syria from the wider world and break the will of its people have failed.

Nevertheless, the past decade has been “painful” for the Syrian people who have witnessed, among others, organized terrorism “backed by a Government everyone is familiar with”, illegal military interference, attacks on their economy and the “imposition of ruthlessly imposed unilateral coercive measures.”

Noting that any illegal military presence in Syria goes against the sovereignty of the country, the Foreign Minister stressed that the fight against terrorism must be carried out alongside the Syrian Government in accordance with international law, urging the separatist militias to refrain to support the occupants.

“The hope embodied by the people of Iraq, had enabled them to snatch opportunities for life, progress and peace from the clutches of crisis and conflict,” the Prime Minister told leaders gathered in New York for the Assembly’s annual high-level debate.

The people of Iraq had also used that same spirit of hope to fight terrorism and ultimately defeat it on behalf of the entire world. “That task was arduous. Our people made enormous sacrifices, not only to liberate their land from the terrorist gangs of ISIL, but to also keep them from threatening people everywhere,” the Prime Minister explained.

“We succeeded in uprooting this destructive ideology,” he said, paying tribute to the “martyrs of Iraq” who had sacrificed their lives in defense of the values of justice, democracy and human rights. Iraq looked forward to receiving further UN support to reconstruct areas affected and occupied by ISIL terrorists.

Reconstruction of liberated areas

At the same time, he stressed that any potential UN aid to respond to the urgent and necessary humanitarian needs must enhance Iraq’s capability to rebuild destroyed infrastructure in a way that would help our cities and people, including Internally displaced persons (IDPs) to return to normal life.

Prime Minister Al-Kadhimi highlighted that the Iraqi Government had developed a comprehensive plan for the reconstruction of those areas that had been under ISIL control, as well as for the rehabilitation of infrastructure and the safe and voluntary return of displaced people, and he expressed profound thanks to donor countries and international organizations for their humanitarian support and assistance.

“From this podium, I reiterate Iraq’s calls for its territories to not be used under the pretext of fighting terrorism or protecting the national security of other countries in a manner that endangers our security and stability,” he stated, called strongly for strengthening cooperative ties and ensuring respect for the principle of sovereignty and territorial integrity.

In a joint news release issued late on Thursday, the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, and UN relief agency for Palestine refugees (UNRWA) said the boat had reportedly set off towards Europe on Tuesday from the port of Miniyeh, near Tripoli, Lebanon, carrying between 120 and 170 passengers.

The shipwreck off the coast of Syria late Thursday is simply tragic. The boat carried 120-170 migrants and refugees, mostly Syrians, Lebanese and Palestinians. We will offer support to bereaved families. @UNmigration@UNRWAhttps://t.co/lZYktLZWdy

— UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency (@Refugees) September 23, 2022

The refugees and migrants were mostly Syrians, Lebanese, and Palestinians. Passengers included women, children, men and elderly people.

Search and rescue operations have confirmed that at least 70 people died in Syrian waters.

At least 20 hospitalized

“Early reports indicate that 20 people were transferred to the hospital in the city of Tartous, some in a serious condition”, said the statement.

News reports said that boat was believed to be en route to Europe, but it is unclear what led to the sinking.

In Lebanon, the three agencies are following up with the relevant authorities and will offer support to bereaved families, the reported. UNHCR in Syria is also providing some material support to the survivors who are recovering from their ordeal in Tartous. 

“This is yet another heart-wrenching tragedy and we extend our deepest condolences to all those impacted,” said Filippo Grandi, UN High Commissioner for Refugees.

Solidarity call

“We call for full solidarity from the international community to help improve the conditions of forcibly displaced people and host communities in the Middle East, particularly in countries neighbouring Syria. Too many people are being pushed to the brink.”

António Vitorino, IOM Director General, declared that those simply looking for safety “should not be compelled to take such perilous and often deadly migration journeys”.

“Palestine, the Observer State in this Organization for 10 years now has proved that it qualifies for full membership. You have all recognized this,” he said, citing contributions that include chairing the G-77 and China developing country coalition. 

“We are the exception. We are the only ones in the world on whom double standards are being applied.” 

Killings, looting, demolitions 

President Abbas began his remarks by outlining how Palestinians have suffered under decades of Israeli occupation. 

“Israel is giving total freedom to the army and to the terrorist settlers who are killing the Palestinian people in broad daylight, looting their land and their water, burning and demolishing their homes, compelling them to pay for the demolition, or forcing them to destroy their homes with their own hands, and uproot their trees,” he said, speaking through an interpreter. 

He also addressed the killing of Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, among other incidents.  

The Al Jazeera correspondent was shot in May while on assignment in the West Bank. He said Israel acknowledged that she had been killed by a sniper. 

“I dare the United States to prosecute those who have killed this American national.  Why? because they are Israelis,” he told world leaders. 

Trust ‘unfortunately regressing’ 

Regarding peace prospects, Mr. Abbas stated that “our trust and the possibility of achieving peace based on justice and international law is unfortunately regressing.” 

He said Israel is ignoring international resolutions and undermining agreements and is no longer a partner in the peace process. 

“It has and still is, through its current policies, which are premeditated and deliberate, destroying the two-State solution. This proves unequivocally that Israel does not believe in peace. It believes in imposing status quo by force and by aggression.”  

He called for the UN Secretary-General to elaborate an international plan to end the occupation in order to achieve peace, security and stability in the region, in line with international resolutions and the Arab Peace Initiative.

“The highest goals of the Presidential Council will be [securing] peace and ending human suffering,” he told world leaders gathered for the high-level debate at the UN General Assembly.

As such, he continued, Yemen was now “on the path to restoring the State, ending the coup, restoring the system of rights and freedoms, equal citizenship, and ensuring that women and youth are empowered to create their own future and build the desired peace.”

President Al-Alimi affirmed the new Council’s adherence to the ideals of peace, in accordance with the terms of reference for a comprehensive solution to the Yemeni crisis set out in the Gulf Initiative and the relevant Security Council resolutions.

He also stated the Presidential Leadership Council’s commitment to establishing “an approach consistent with the Charter and functions of the United Nations, facilitating the work of its humanitarian agencies, political missions, and related oversight mechanisms, ensuring the political, economic and social rights of women, and preventing the exploitation of children and their recruitment into hostilities.”

Terrorist groups remain a danger

At the same time, Mr. Al-Alimi warned of the consequences of ongoing uncertainty in Yemen, saying that if progress on the political process slowed, “militias and terrorist groups are more dangerous in their cross-border threats, as well as their egregious violations of human rights.”

He accused the Ansar Allah group (Houthis) of “overturning” the national consensus emanating from the Comprehensive National Dialogue Conference, which ended in January 2014 with the participation of all Yemeni forces and parties, including the Houthis."/p>

Yet, he said, Houthi militias were impeding the presentation of the new draft constitution to a popular referendum, “and launched a massive invasion campaign to the capital Sana’a and the cities of Yemen and were threatening the President of the country and the Government of National Accord to Aden and … declared war on neighboring countries and the world at large.

“I explicitly declare that the Islamic Republic of Iran is not seeking to develop nuclear weapons and such weapons have no place in our defence doctrine,” Seyyed Ebrahim Raisi told Member States gathered for the high-level General Debate.

This is despite the fact that other governments have continued to produce and use nuclear weapons and “gift” them to others, he continued, lamenting the West’s “double standard position” towards his country’s nuclear activities as a “manifestation of injustice.”

Peaceful programme

“Countries that have to be disarmed are rewarded, and countries that have adhered to their commitments are even deprived of the rights contained in the NPT,” said Mr. Raisi, referring to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, which seeks to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons and weapons technology, to promote cooperation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy and to further the goal of achieving nuclear disarmament and general and complete disarmament.

“While Iran's peaceful nuclear programme includes only two per cent of the world's nuclear programmes, 35 per cent of inspections are of our facilities,” said the President.

“While Iran's peaceful nuclear programme includes only two per cent of the world's nuclear programmes, 35 per cent of inspections are of our facilities,” said the President.  

Indeed, he said: “Those who see the Iranian nuclear issue as a threat are nevertheless ignoring what they should do themselves: denuclearize.”

In 2015, a landmark accord – formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) – was reached between Iran, the United States, China, France, Russia, and the United Kingdom. Under this accord, Iran agreed to dismantle much of its nuclear programme and open its facilities to international inspections in exchange for sanctions relief.

Nuclear deal

In 2018, then-President Trump withdrew the US from the agreement and reinstated the sanctions.

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