An official in the Syrian Coalition said that the policies of mass forced displacement and demographic change that the Assad regime pursues are aimed at serving Iran’s sectarian plans in the region. He pointed out that the legalizations that the Assad regime has recently introduced, the latest of which is Law No. 10, have exposed the regime’s intentions to displace the Syrian people out of their homes.
Member of the Syrian Coalition’s political and legal committees Yasser Farhan said that the newly introduced law is aimed at legitimizing plans to change the demographic landscape in Syria in favor of the sectarian, expansionist Iranian regime. The new legalization is a follow-up to the procedures to change the "possession proceedings and title deeds" which were adopted earlier through the adoption of legislative decree No. 66 of 2012. The decree aimed to create two administrative zones southeast of the Al-Mazzah district and south of the Sothern Overpass in the districts of Al-Mazzah, Kafarsousa, Al-Qanawat, Al-Basateen, Darayya, and Al-Qadam in Damascus.
According to Law No. 10, property owners must declare their rights and submit documents proving their ownership within a period of 30 days. Property owners who are present must also elect their representatives in the committees for the valuation of property or they will appointed by the court, Farhan said. He stressed that this measure has exposed Assad regime’s real intentions, adding that the regime is seeking to exploit the absence of more than 13 million Syrians in order to confiscate their property through manipulation and the destruction of real estate records.
Farhan also said the new legislation allows administrative bodies to get their hands on property and public buildings as well as on the building blocks pending demolition. It allows services companies to buy shares in building blocks in return for partial funding of the costs of the reorganization of these blocks. This measure risks allowing officials of the Iranian regime to seize large, strategic areas in Syria and to exploit them in the future for political and sectarian purposes, Farhan warned.
Farhan noted that the introduction of the new legislation came under the pretext of reorganizing the informal settlements in Damascus, exploiting the inability of the owners of property to produce their proprietary documents within a deadline of 15 days as they are mostly displaced or on the Assad regime’s wanted list.
Farhan pointed out that the new legalization completely ignored the informal settlements in the parts of Damascus that are inhabited by Assad’s loyalists, such as Al-Mazzah 86 and Ush Al-Warwar.
The Assad regime, through such legislations, repeats the same procedures in the establishment of holding companies for reconstruction like the ones it established in the Old City of Homs and the district of Baba Amr and other parts of Homs city. Other procedures also included the purchase of real estate by brokerage firms working for Iran in Damascus, Homs and Deir Ezzor taking advantage of Law No. 11 of 2011 on the foreign ownership of residential property, Law No. 10 (1991) and Legislative Decree No. 7 (2000) which allowed the Iranians to acquire large properties under the guise of investment.
Farhan stressed that exploiting the circumstances of the Assad regime's war against the Syrian people and the absence or the displacement of the people are a sufficient reason to nullify all the legislations that the Assad regime issued after 2011. These circumstances are also sufficient to repeal these legalizations and restore the proceedings of possession and title deeds to their rightful owners.
Moreover, Farhan said that the Assad regime lost all legitimacy after it committed war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity in Syria. The regime also lost legitimacy under international resolutions calling for the establishment of a transitional governing body by the opposition and the regime. The legitimacy of the authorities of the Assad regime have become disputed, thus forfeiting the right to introduce new legalizations, he added.
Farhan went on to say that defending the Syrians’ right to return to their homes is the most feasible measure to thwart the Assad regime’s plans to change the demographic landscape in Syria. He pointed out that the international community has an obligation to ensure this right by the provision of protection and the creation of conditions for the restoration of stability and reaching a political transition.
Farhan pointed out that the Syrian Coalition’s legal committee has already submitted many memoranda to the UN Security Council and the United Nations to warn of the dangers of these legislations. The committee stressed that these procedures should be considered as a "war crime" along with the mass forced displacement which is being carried out by the Assad regime and its allies.
The Khan Sheikhoun chemical weapons massacre, in which nearly 100 civilians were killed, mostly children and women on April 4, 2017 was a major indicator of the Assad regime’s insistence on continuing to use this type of weapon in blatant defiance of international warnings.
In a press release issued on Thursday, the Syrian Coalition held the international community “responsible for the continued impunity for these crimes as it allows Russia to continue to disable the UN Security Council.” It stressed that “the repeated issuance of statements of condemnation and threats of punishment have proved futile. It is imperative, therefore, to stand up to Russia's support for these atrocious crimes.”
The Coalition renewed calls for the activation of Article 21 of UN Security Council resolution 2118 which threatened to impose measures under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter in the event of non-compliance with the resolution, including the unauthorized transfer or any use of chemical weapons by anyone in Syria.
“The international community has an obligation to take serious action and exert real pressure to hold criminals accountable and put an end to these crimes as well as the mass forced displacement of civilians,” the Coalition said.
According to a report the Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR) issued on Wednesday, the Assad regime has carried out as many as 214 chemical weapons attacks since the start of the revolution, including more than 10 attacks that took place after the Khan Sheikhoun massacre.
The Coalition added: “Indeed, allowing the criminals who planned and carried out these massacres to escape punishment for these crimes and for the mass forced displacement of Syrians will remain an absolute disgrace to the international community. Impunity for these crimes risks opening the door for a world in which war crimes and genocide are committed with prohibited weapons without the perpetrators fearing the consequences of their actions.”
A joint investigation by the UN and the Organization of Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) has confirmed the Assad regime’s responsibility for the Khan Sheikhoun massacre as well as for 27 other chemical weapons attacks. Russia responded by blocking the extension of the work of the joint panel using its veto power three times at the UN Security Council. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department)