Syria: Politicisation of human misery

By Ameen Izzadeen
Politicisation of human rights or trying to gain political mileage from human misery is undoubtedly inhuman, if not demonic.
It appears that this is what the powerful nations are doing in Syria. The suffering of the Syrian people, who have been going through hell for the past five years, has become a propaganda tool for the United States and its allies to use against the Syrian regime and its ally, Russia. In the past few weeks, the Syrian Army backed by Russia, Iran and the Hezbollah militia has been making remarkable battlefield advances in its effort to liberate the ISIS-infested eastern part of the historic city of Aleppo.
Military analysts believe that the victory for the Syrian troops in eastern Aleppo could expedite the end of the civil war in the regime’s favour. This is why the United States and its allies are using every weapon in their armoury to stop the march of the Syrian forces. First, the US failed to honour its part of the deal in the truce it reached with Russia. Then US aircraft killed some 80 Syrian troops in a bombing raid and called it a mistake. But this failed to stop the Syrian-Russian victory march.
The US President Barack Obama who will be in office for only three more months will not commit ground troops in Syria. Neither will he order Nato to carry out more airstrikes on Syrian army positions without risking the possibility of a tough retaliation from Russia which has now deployed its sophisticated S-300 surface-to-air missiles in Syria in a bid to checkmate any further US military adventurism. Yet hawkish Hillary Clinton foolishly calls for the setting up of a no-fly zone over Aleppo to contain the Russians, quite in contrast to Donald Trump’s pledge to work with the Russians to find a solution to the Syrian crisis.
Unable to stop the Syrian Army’s victory march or counter Russia’s military power, the US-led alliance then unleashed its second weapon, propaganda, which is more powerful than bunker busters. US civil rights champion Malcolm X said, “The media’s the most powerful entity on earth. They have the power to make the innocent guilty and to make the guilty innocent, and that’s power. Because they control the minds of the masses.”
Footage from eastern Aleppo began to dominate the Western media coverage of the Syrian war. Front pages carried pictures of bodies of children being recovered from beneath rubble in the aftermath of Russian airstrikes.
In this propaganda avalanche, Syria’s legitimate troops are not referred to as the Syrian military or Syrian forces. Robbed of their legitimacy, they are described in the mainstream western media or Corporate Media as pro-government soldiers or forces loyal to the Syrian regime.
True, civilian massacres should draw universal condemnation, whoever does it. A war crime is a war crime whether it is done by the Syrian forces, the Russians, the Americans or non-state actors such as ISIS.
But singling out war crimes to one conflict is not only hypocritical but inhumane.
When the United States Secretary of State John Kerry last Friday accused Russia of committing war crimes in Aleppo, one wondered whether it was like pot calling the kettle black or ISIS calling al-Qaeda a killer.
“Russia and the {Syrian} regime owe the world more than an explanation about why they keep hitting hospitals, and medical facilities, and children and women… These are acts that beg for an appropriate investigation of war crimes, and those who commit these would and should be held accountable for these actions. This is a targeted strategy to terrorise civilians,” Kerry said.
But the US does not call Saudi Arabia a war criminal for last week’s funeral house massacre in Yemen. Nor did it call Israel by that name for killing some 750 Palestinian children during a month long Israeli bombing in 2009.
Such double standards were evident in the manner that the US protected Israel during the Sabra and Shatila massacre in Lebanon in 1982, the Qana massacre during the 1996 Lebanon war and the civilian deaths during the 2005 attack on Southern Lebanon. Instead of any tough measures, this war crime committing nation receives US$ 4 billion in taxpayers’ money annually as aid from the US. If the money had been given to various cash-strapped UN programmes — instead of Israel, a developed country with some 400 nuclear warheads — the world would have been a better place.
The United States’ own war crimes record is no better than that of Israel which it zealously serves.
Forget Hiroshima and Nagasaki, never mind Vietnam, just look at the United States’ recent wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya. These were certainly not wars led by commanders who carried to the battle field copies of the Geneva Conventions, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights or the UN Charter.
The United States’ bombing of Iraq in 2003 was more intense than Russian attacks in Aleppo. Tens of thousands of civilians, including children, died in US strikes codenamed “Shock and Awe”. There is overwhelming evidence to prove that the United States used depleted uranium in Iraq to quash the revolt of the people who sought the freedom of their country.
The Dutch peace group, Pax, in a 2014 report said the data it collected showed that many of the depleted uranium rounds were fired in or near populated areas of Iraq.
Even today, thousands of children in Iraq are dying of cancer or born with serious birth defects because of depleted uranium poisoning. The United States’ use of depleted uranium as a weapon in civilian areas is as appalling as the use chemical weapons by both the regime and the rebels in the Syrian war. But the Corporate Media or the presstitute made very little noise about this war crime.
Civilians also died in Nato airstrikes in Libya. The New York-based Human Rights Watch in a 2012 report said that eight Nato bombing raids killed 72 civilians, a third of them children. But Libyan sources claim that as many as 2,000 civilians were killed by Nato airstrikes on the Gaddafi stronghold of Sirte alone. With the embedded Corporate Media hyping only about atrocities of the Gaddafi regime, the victims of Nato crimes suffered alone.
Similarly in Syria, the Corporate Media won’t mention that on the other side of extremists-controlled eastern Aleppo where some 250,000 people are being used as human shields, some 2.5 million people are leading a normal life in the government-controlled Western Aleppo. They won’t talk about civilians killed in rebel attacks.
It is amid this propaganda war that Moscow and Washington yesterday pledged to resume talks aimed at finding a lasting ceasefire in Syria. But the Syrian crisis being a labyrinth of power games involving, apart from the US and Russia, countries such as Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Iran, a solution is possible only if Syria returns to status quo ante.
(This article first appeared in the Daily Mirror, Sri Lanka)

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About ameenizzadeen

journalist and global justice activist
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