By Payman Yazdani

Logoglu: U.S. presence in Syria illegal in absence of UNSC mandate, Damascus invitation 

December 1, 2017 - 11:18

TEHRAN _ Touching upon the U.S. and some countries military intervention in Syria, the senior member of Turkey’s Republican People's Party (CHP) Faruk logoglu says these interventions without the UNSC mandate and Syrian government’s invitation are illegal under international law. 

Article 2(4) of the UN Charter states that “all members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations”.
In other words, the use of military force by a state against another state is illegal under international law.
This rule, however, is subject to three exceptions: military action in self-defence, military action authorised by the Security Council under Chapter VII of the UN Charter, and military action based on the principle of “intervention upon invitation”.
The principle of “intervention upon invitation” means a state might request other state or states to use military force within its territory invoking the international legal principle of intervention upon invitation, as the Syrian government did when asked the Russian military forces and some other allies to help the country protect its integrity against ISIL terrorists.
Contrary to the Syrian government’s invitation from Russia, Damascus has repeatedly called the U.S. military presence in its territory illegal and aggression.
To shed more light on the illegality of the U.S. actions in Syria, we reached out to the senior member of Turkey’s Republican People's Party (CHP), Dr. Osman Faruk logoglu.
Following is the full text of the interview:
Q: Is U.S. military presence in Syrian territory legal based on international laws from the very beginning?

A: The legality of the presence of any foreign troops in Syria can be based only on two foundations. One is a mandate from the UN Security Council.  The other is the invitation or consent of the Syrian Government.  In the absence of a UNSC Resolution to this effect, the position of the Syrian Government is the key.  And Syrian authorities have condemned U.S. military presence as aggression.  But let’s not forget that these criteria apply to all countries that are militarily involved in the Syrian conflict.  

Q: U.S. administration time to time has dispatched its forces to Syrian territory under the pretext of training Kurdish forces to fight ISIL, but nowadays we are witnessing that not only ISIL is almost defeated in Syria and Iraq but also recently some reports showed close cooperation between U.S. backed PYD and ISIL terrorists in Raqqa. Considering these facts, can the continuation of the U.S. military presence in Syria be justified legally especially when the Syrian legal government controls 90 percent of its territory and has announced the U.S. military presence illegal. Will the U.S. pull out its troops from Syria?

A: The legality issue is part of a greater problem. Syrian government’s main ally Russia is cooperating with the USA in Syria in the fight against terrorism. There is also the international coalition fighting ISIL and the U.S. is in the coalition.  Thus, one could safely conclude that the U.S. will not withdraw its troops from Syria until the final defeat of ISIL there and probably not do so even then until a peaceful resolution is achieved to the Syrian conflict itself. One should not exclude the possibility of a tacit understanding between the U.S. and Russia in this connection.

Q: If the U.S. wants to keep its forces in Syria, how can it legalize its presence?

A: The legality issue is not really an issue for the U.S. They can always explain their presence in terms of the fight against terrorism as a member of the international coalition.  They can also try to justify their presence in terms of international humanitarian law.  The Syrian government’s protests in this regard are of no avail, but they do constitute a record for the post-settlement phase of the Syrian crisis. 

Q: Russia has called U.S. military presence in Syria illegal. How can Russia help the Syrian government to put pressure on White House to pull out its troops from Syrian territory?

A: The Russians will not help the Syrian government to get U.S. troops out of the country.  To the contrary, the Russians need the Americans there to further their own goals in Syria.  Russia and the U.S. like its neighbours are all trying to establish spheres of influence in Syria.  The way to get all foreign troops out of the country is to bring peace to Syria.  This is why all must give their utmost support to the Geneva peace process under UN auspices. 

Q: The U.S. has created several military bases in Syria even in the areas which have nothing to do with U.S. claimed fight against ISIL. It seems the U.S. has another reasons for its illegal military presence in Syria and fighting against ISIL is just a pretext. What do you think of the U.S. real reasons to boost its military presence in the country?

A: The U.S. military presence in Syria is extensive.  But so is the Russian military presence in Syria, perhaps even more so. Eventually when the Syrian conflict comes to an end, U.S. may indeed withdraw from Syria. But will the Russians?

Q: Considering the close cooperation between the U.S. and armed Kurdish groups in Syria which Turkey considers them threat to its security, what will be the effect of U.S. military presence in the Kurdish controlled regions of Syria on Turkey’s national security?

A: President Trump has recently told President Erdogan that the U.S. will stop providing arms to the YPG.  Ankara has asked Washington to sever all ties with the YPG which is a terrorist entity as an extension of the PKK.  Turkey has vital strategic and security interests along its borders with both Syria and Iraq.  Thus whatever presence U.S. may have in the north of Syria cannot and must not constitute a presence against Turkey’s interests.  U.S. should act as an ally under all circumstances.

Q: Syrian Kurdish officials have announced the Kurdish forces will join Syrian army in future. How do you evaluate such an act both for the Syria and National security of Turkey?
A: Turkey supports and is committed to the preservation of the territorial integrity and national unity of Syria.  Hence, Syria must be under one flag, one capital and have one army.  If the Syrian Kurds are serious about being part of the Syrian army, this is good news for the future of Syria.  A stable, peaceful Syria would not be a threat to Turkey. "    

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