Syria Current Affairs
The world’s foremost chemical weapons watchdog, Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) as granted itself new powers to help identify those responsible for chemical attacks in Syria. 82 members (exceeding required two-thirds majority) of the OPCW voted in favour of this proposal tabled by United Kingdom at special session of Conference of States Parties in The Hague. 24 countries including Russia, Iran and Syria voted against it.
With enhanced powers, OPCW now can put in place arrangements to identify the perpetrators of use of chemical weapons in Syria. It is considered as important step forward for arms control. It strengthens unravelling consensus against use of chemical weapons.
Until now, OPCW was only able to say whether chemical weapons were used – but not who had used them. It had limited power to only send teams to alleged chemical weapons attack, collect samples and draw their conclusions. They were having only limited power of determining whether attack is chemical weapons or not. But whatever evidence they turned up, they were not having powers to point finger at particular country or non-state actor as the perpetrator for the attack.
Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW)
OPCW is an intergovernmental organization that promotes, administers and verifies the adherence to the Convention on Prohibition of Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on their Destruction (CWC). This convention outlaws production, stockpiling, and use of chemical weapons and their precursors. 190 member-states have signed and ratified this convention including India. Six states- Angola, Egypt, Israel, Myanmar, North Korea and South Sudan are still outside the CWC. OPCW was established April 1997 and it is headquartered in Hague, Netherlands. It was awarded Nobel Peace Prize in 2013 for overseeing global endeavour for permanent and verifiable elimination of chemical weapons.
The Russia and Turkey have agreed to intensify military and intelligence contacts. They also have agreed on the need for aid to get to the northern Syrian city of Aleppo.
Decision in this regard was taken after meeting between Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Russian President Vladimir Putin on sidelines of World Energy Congress in Istanbul.
- The two countries also have signed a deal to construct two TurkStream gas pipeline pipelines to send Russian gas under the Black Sea to Turkey.
- Turkey will use one pipeline for its domestic consumption and the other will supply southeastern Europe, bypassing Ukraine.
Improvement in Relations
- This was the first time Russian President Putin visited Turkey after their relations were strained after Turkey, a NATO member had downed a Russian war plane in November 2015 alongside the Syrian border.
- Since then relations between both countries had ebbed after Russia had imposed economic sanctions against Turkey.
- Turkey is massively dependent on energy imports from Russia for its energy security. Besides, first nuclear power station of Turkey is also being built with Russian help.
- However, both nations still differ over Syrian strategy and plan. Russia has always stood by Assad regime in Syria throughout the years of unrest.
- Russia had further intensified its support to regime by launching an air campaign against rebels. Contrastingly, Turkey always stood against Assad and helped the rebel factions.
- Turkey’s decision was seen counterproductive as it had further strengthened the stronghold of ISIS in Syria and surrounding region and also intensified the Syrian civil war and leading to spread of terrorism and refugee crisis.