By Owei Lakemfa
UNIVERSAL powers converged this Tuesday under the auspices of the United Nations Security Council to deliberate on the alleged use of chemical bombs in the Douma District of Syria. The gory images of alleged victims of the attack had gone viral. On the eve of the meeting which was ostensibly to discuss the alleged attack and identify its perpetrators, President Donald Trump found the Syrian Government guilty and threatened retaliatory actions.
At the Council, as usual, debates gave way to acrimony and threats of retaliatory measures even before any investigation. The United States, US, presented its resolution to the meeting pronouncing Syria guilty and seeking the establishment of an independent agency to investigate the attack. It was vetoed by Russia. Then the verbal cannons were let loose. The U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley said: “History will record that, on this day, Russia chose protecting a monster (Syrian President Bashar Assad)over the lives of the Syrian people.” To this, the Russian Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia, retorted: “You do not want to hear the fact that no traces of a chemical attack were found in Douma. You simply have been looking for a pretext to justify the use of force against Syria.”
He also said: “We are using the veto in order to protect international rule of law, peace and security, to make sure that you do not drag the Security Council into your adventures.” To which Haley shot back: “Russia has trashed the credibility of the Council. Whenever we propose anything meaningful on Syria, Russia vetoes it. It is a travesty.”
After shooting down the American resolution, the Russians presented their two resolutions which as expected, were defeated. So nothing concrete came out of the Security Council meeting.
The basic questions; whether indeed there was such an attack or if the images are part of ‘fake news,’ could not be answered. Also, no effective mechanism was put in place to determine this or who carried out the attack and for what purpose. Such tragic matters with potentially serious consequences, have been reduced to the drama of the absurd since 2014 when then President Barack Obama drew the invisible red line and threatened to bomb the Assad government out of existence as it did the Libyan government headed by Muammar Ghadaffi in 2011. Such a blind attack might have handed the terrorist organisations – ISIS and the al-Nusra Front, their first ‘Caliphate’ courtesy of the Americans and their North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, NATO, allies.
If indeed there was an attack, is there the remote possibility that it was carried out by a third force; possibly the terrorists or the Israelis who stand to benefit from a Western attack on Syria? There is the issue of motive; what would be the motive of the Assad government when the war is going so well for it and it is uprooting the last strongholds of the rebels and terrorists especially around Damascus?
My argument is not that the Syrian government is incapable of using such deadly chemicals, but there should be a chance of investigating such claims before conclusions are reached. With the Security Council muddling up the waters, it would be difficult for a neutral body to make a conclusive investigation.
Rolling from the drama of massive retaliatory expulsion of diplomats by Russia and the West over the use of nerve gas against Russian double spy, Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia in Britain, international diplomacy is being turned into a dangerous circus where one side may make a false move and the other retaliates.
Allegations on the use of deadly bombs have been largely discredited since the 2003 invasion of Iraq under the false pretense that the Saddam Hussein government not only had weapons of mass destruction, but was about using them.
The Syrian Civil War is supposed to have been a civil protest against the Assad government; overnight, it became a war in which sophisticated arms are used, giving the impression that it was not spontaneous after all. It was in that war that we saw the Western-created, Jordanian-trained and Saudi-funded ISIS in action before it took over vast territories especially in Iraq over which it declared a Caliphate. That was when the founders of the Frankenstein ISIS properly re-designated their monster ‘freedom fighters’ as terrorists.
The Syrian conflict has become a mini World War with the most powerful armies; the Russian and American forces involved as well as the Israeli and Turkish armies and countless militia including the Lebanese Hezbollah. In the war, Christian minorities have been massacred and enslaved by the terrorists while at least 465,000 of Syrians have been killed, 6.1 million displaced and 5.5 million turned to refugees. The country itself, is one heap of ruins.
Perhaps, the group that has proportionally made the most losses, are the Kurds. They are a homogeneous people sliced into Turkey, Iran, Iraq and Syria as minorities. When the Iraqi forces which had been decimated by ISIS, was too paralysed, and perhaps, frightened to fight, and Turkey tucked itself into its own side of the borders supporting pockets of Syrian rebels, it was the small but courageous Kurdish fighters, especially the Peshmerga (those who face death) that filed out to take on the far superior ISIS forces. With American air support and military supplies, they halted the ISIS and began to push them back in Iraq, while the Syrian military relentlessly pounded them in Syria, forcing them to concede territories. With the near defeat of ISIS, the war-weary Kurds were abandoned by the Americans, leaving them open to be pounded by Turkey. America and the West do not want to annoy the Turks who they are paying to keep illegal immigrants from European shores. They are also aware that the Turks are being wooed by the Russians even after downing a Russian fighter jet. The Kurdish Question does not fit into the Western agenda; the Kurds were simply a sacrificial lamb.
There are no concerted efforts to end the bloody Syrian Civil War because the West knows that it will be a victory for the Syrian government; so, international power brokers concentrate on negotiating territories, ‘humanitarian corridor’ ‘safe passage’ for rebels and their families and ceasefire to allow evacuation of besieged cities.
On March 29, Trump announced he would be withdrawing American troops from Syria: “We’ll be coming out of Syria like very soon. Let the other people take care of it now.” This has been replaced this week with the heightened rhetoric of further American military intervention in that country. If the Americans strike, and the Russians refuse to be bystanders, Syria may provide the world with a highway to universal conflagration.