Syrian blood on the hands of world powers


NOTHING in recent times, perhaps with the exception of Israel, has exposed the ineptitude and sheer spinelessness of the United Nations and the blessed international community as Syria has. All the glorious international institutions and fine laws have proved useless in dealing with one obstinate and murderous tyrant.

The UN has repeatedly warned of the unraveling of Syria and its disastrous consequences for the rest of the region and the world beyond. UN Human Rights Commissioner warned that Syria would be “transformed into hell!” Well, how different hell would be from what we have been witnessing in Syria for the past seven years?

More than half a million are dead and more than half of Syria’s population now lives as refugees across the region and beyond.

But rest assured; the world has become used to UN warnings. It will dust itself off and move on, as it always has. It has dealt with far worse with equanimity. A million deaths in Iraq, for instance, all to assuage the Oedipal insecurities of a certain leader of the free world. In the end, as Stalin famously argued, it is merely a statistic.

Like Bush Junior, Assad Junior has been trying hard to prove he is his father’s true son and successor. He has already outshined his father in the cold, clinical ruthlessness and the number of men, women and children he has sent to their death without batting an eyelid. The years of medical education and training in the West seem to help.

If Assad and his gang have the blood of half a million innocents on their hands, Russia and Iran must take some credit too for enabling him with their crucial support. Without the veto of Russia and China, shielding Assad and thwarting all international efforts to end the regime’s war on its own people, this appalling tragedy wouldn’t have been sustained this long.

By standing with Assad, obviously to protect their own geopolitical interests, Moscow and Tehran are guilty of sending hundreds of thousands of Syrians to their death.

On the other hand, the West and the rest of the international community too must share responsibility for the Syrian catastrophe. By failing to confront the killer regime in Damascus, the world community is complicit and guilty in this continuing genocide in full glare of the world media.

Even the assorted Leftist and liberal groups, journalists and rights activists who have valiantly confronted the West on its wars and excesses have let the Syrian people down. They have tended to view this war and Assad’s appalling atrocities against his people, destroying entire cities and driving hundreds of thousands of Syrians into neighboring countries as just another “Western ploy against another Third world nation.”

Which is nothing but an affront to the epic sacrifices ordinary Syrians have offered over the past seven years. What will it take for us to recognize that this is a heroic struggle for freedom by a long oppressed and tyrannized people?

If anything, the Syrian struggle is even more noble and inspiring because of their endless, sheer courage and all that they have suffered so far at the hands of an utterly ruthless regime. The world needs to stand by the Syrian people.

Intriguingly, the US which has demonstrated an excessive zeal for regime change in the Middle East all these years has been uncharacteristically tolerant of the shenanigans of the bloodthirsty Baathist regime in Damascus.

Remember what happened in Libya? Ignoring the thaw and new bonhomie with Muammar Qaddafi, the US and NATO lost little time in throwing their lot behind the rebels and eventually hunting and killing the colonel like a wild animal. Not even a show trial a la Saddam Hussein for the man who was warmly embraced by the likes of Blair, Sarkozy and Berlusconi.

In Syria’s case though, the leading lights of the Western coalition have done little except offer pointless platitudes asking Assad to end the bloodshed.

Clearly, the West cannot countenance the alternative that a post-Assad scenario could throw up in Syria.

As an Arab scholar once put it, for all their posturing and mutual hostility, Syria has been a “useful enemy” for the US and Israel. The simmering conflict in Syria with the energies and resources of Arab and Muslim states all split and expended among themselves thus actually favors Israel and its patrons.

While an inflamed Syria deflects the attention from Israel’s continuing occupation and stealing of what little remains of Palestinian lands, the general instability and insecurity this one-sided war perpetuates in the volatile region helps the world powers and their ever-voracious war and arms industry. So the longer this deadly and draining conflict drags on, the better it is for global players on both sides of the divide.

— Aijaz Zaka Syed is an award winning journalist and editor. Email: