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We are all deeply frightened

Apr 17,2018 - Last updated at Apr 17,2018

The lesson learned, time and again in our region, is that the use of military strikes as punishment for international misconduct has proven to be utterly futile, particularly when military action is not backed by credible evidence and is taken without UN approval, as was the case recently in Syria.

Usage of banned weapons of mass destruction, chemical or otherwise, is certainly a crime that requires drastic international action. However, such action should be preceded by a number of steps to establish whether or not such weapons were actually used and by whom. 

The other condition for dealing with such flagrant violations of international law is that disciplinary measures, even if decided by UN relevant bodies, should be applied comprehensively to all violations rather than selectively to convenient ones. UN performance has been seriously marred, indeed deeply weakened, by the undue and the wrong application of double standards.

Military action taken against Syrian locations last Saturday by the US, Britain and France, has generated more questions than answers. It has been widely criticised, even in the Western media, for having preceded investigation of the chemical weapons use allegations in Syria rather than waiting for investigation results. The UN Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons investigation team was on its way to Damascus as missiles were raining down on Syrian locations.  

This is why the military strike has been viewed with much scepticism, and as such, has mostly turned out to be self-inflicting and counterproductive.

In a telling Vanity Fair article on April 15, titled "The Syrian strike proves we still haven't learned from Iraq", T.A. Frank asks "What does it mean to find an event such as the bombing of Syria on Friday frightening?" Frank adds that the fear felt by "some of us was deep rather than acute", because, while Americans have been lucky enough for the last 150 years to view war from a safe distance, this time "The United States was choosing to take a terrible risk, that of escalating our intervention into a conflict with Russia, even before inspectors on the ground could get to work to establish what happened,” Frank said. He added: "Rarely have the powers that claim to be protecting us looked more irresponsible or sinister.” 

The Middle East is yet to recover from the US-led invasion of Iraq 15 years ago. That war was justified on the basis of Iraq’s possession of weapons of mass destruction. Not only were the alleged weapons never found, but the belligerent powers that planned that war knew well beforehand that Iraq possessed no such weapons. Therefore, to back their premeditated aggression, fake evidence had to be invented in ways that were openly scandalous, deceitful, unethical, dangerous and shameless. The disasters brought on by that war on all sides, the attackers specifically, are still resonating with no visible end in sight. That war plunged the Middle East into eternal chaos, and it sowed the seeds for the worst types of terrorism, religious and ethnic conflicts, radicalisation, violence and collapse of existing order. What is happening now in Libya, Yemen and Syria is directly related. As the hands of the very foreign powers that complain about the prevailing chaos were specifically instrumental in precipitating the Middle Eastern instability and turmoil, decade after decade, we had good reason to believe that maybe the hard lessons had been learned. This does not seem to be the case; the same foreign powers are not rushing to the region with fire extinguishers to put out the very fires they started, rather they come with tanks full of fuel to feed them and to spread more disorder, completely unmindful of the fact that the fire has spread to their own terrain and will continue to crawl in their direction. 

The situation in Syria is indeed disastrous. All participants in that war are guilty. Why should they be there to start with? Is it really out of concern for the lack, in Syria, of the same kind of democracy that thrives in their own countries? Is it out of concern for the misery to which the Syrian people have been subjected to in the last seven years? Or is it just to pursue shortsighted, self-serving interests at the expense of other people's destiny and right to peaceful life?

While we have been hoping that the hard lessons had been finally learned, we are, once more, reminded that the same pattern of power politics designed to serve specific schemes, for the benefit of Israel primarily and its expansionist colonial plans in Palestine and beyond, are guiding the dangerous behaviour of influential western powers. This is not going to help anyone in the region, including Israel. This hostile behaviour is further widening the gap between the Arab Muslim world and the concerned western powers. It will make any possible reconciliation much more difficult, and will also hurt the very interests of the western powers themselves.

In Syria and elsewhere in the middle East, what is needed is wisdom, fairness, principled politics, responsible and orderly behaviour based on the rule of law. There are no signs that we are even close to achieving that.

Therefore, we in this region are also frightened by this kind of "irresponsible and sinister” rush to war for no convincing and justifiable reasons. Politics based on fabrications, outright lies, perpetual conspiracy and unrestricted use of force is no basis for a sound and reassuring international order. We are all deeply frightened.

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