Tide Of Times ‘Oust-Assad’ Agenda Flounders
War in Syria has become a source of embarrassment to the United States and its closes allies in Europe because they have not attained what they set out to do in that oil-rich West Asian country in 2011. According to estimates made by Western agencies, half a million people lost their lives since the conflict erupted.
Whatever the precise total number of casualties, it is indisputable that hundreds of thousands of people have been killed. Civilian casualties are mounting by the day. For instance, more than 300 civilians in Mosul were killed on account of the United States’ air strikes in the city over a period of five weeks in February-March. Nearly a hundred other civilians were killed near Mosul within a week in March. All this is just the tip of the iceberg.
The United States and its close allies in Europe point their fingers at Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for an April 4 poison gas attack which, according to Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitor, claimed the lives of no less than 87 people, including 31 children. Damascus describes the chemical weapons attack claims as “100 per cent fabrication”.
Washington termed the poison gas attack allegedly by Damascus on civilians as “barbaric”—a charge Moscow, Tehran and Assad, however, reject. Who might have the motive and power to mobilise or instigate such a horrendous act? Assad, in power for 17 years, says: “Our impression is that the West, mainly the United States, is hand-in-glove with terrorists. They fabricated the whole story in order to have a pretext for the attack.”
Even as an official probe was already underway, Russia and Iran pressed for a new team to probe the chemical attack whose perpetrator is yet to be identified with firm evidence. They demanded an investigation by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).
Propaganda in times of such charges and counter-charges only contributes to confuse the atmosphere in the absence of substantive evidence. Hence it is mere one side’s words against another. If the differing sides possess enough strength to forestall each other, the outcome is a deadlock.
The war or words underscores how confusion is created in the absence of irrefutable evidence about a particular incident. The mid-1960s may be recalled when Indonesia saw at least 500,000 “communists” killed on Suharto orders, and the Indonesia president had a tacit approval of the US and its capitalists allies who refrained from condemning the heinous killings that in today’s parlance would be assessed as a genocide.
The media in the West did not give the horrendous killings in the detail it did in killings elsewhere, as if conforming to the dogma held by some sections that some suspected communists are “better dead than red”. It also showed the paranoia that gripped the capitalist West against communists or those seen to sympathised with communists. Suharto, as a result, was able to impose his authoritarian rule for three decades until he was compelled to step down in the wake of massive public protests in the streets against him in the closing years of the 1990s.
And the same media that were so reticent in discussing the mass killings of suspected communists never get tired of recalling the June 1989 Tiananmen Square killings that claimed several hundred lives. They are extremely reluctant to mention also the Kwangju deaths numbering at least 3,000 during the army-backed rule in South Korea in the early 1980s, when the men in brass in Seoul had built a solid rapport with Washington.
Osama bin-Laden was killed with the then US President Barack Obama watching live him being liquidated by American commandos in Pakistan. Yet Washington is most reluctant to pull out even after spending more the $800 billion and failing to restore the chaos it aggravated.
Based on Falsehood
In an editorial, The New York Times wrote: “George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld, supported by Tony Blair, went to war with Iraq…after voluminous studies and books and wave upon wave of terrible consequences… It would seem there is no doubt that these leaders created a false case for invading Iraq and then utterly mismanaged the occupation.” Blair’s message of blind loyalty to Bush read thus: “I will be with you, whatever.”
More than 4,500 Americans, 200 Britons and several hundred thousand Iraqis, mostly civilians, lost their lives in the war that commenced in 2003 but is yet to conclude.
In the 1991 Gulf war, the US propaganda machine manipulated the American news media to rely on a falsehood that showed a film footage highlighting the fictitious bombing of a hospital in Kuwait by the Saddam Hussein regime. It created a hospital scene with test-tube babies in incubators affected by the bombing that never happened. The supposed eyewitness account relied upon was a girl, who later turned out to be no other than the daughter of the Kuwaiti ambassador to Washington.
If George H. Bush was the US president in 1991, his son George W. Bush was the presiding deity of the White House when the fictitious report was cooked up to claim that Saddam Hussein possessed banned weapons of mass destruction—a lie but expedient at that time for invading Iraq and ousting its president in 2003.
In Syrian case, too, there is no definitive proof as to who exactly was responsible for using the poison gas. Washington without hesitation named Assad for the crime and Europe predictably, as it did in the case of Baghdad possessing banned weapons, supported the claim. Russian President Vladimir Putin denies that Damascus had anything to do with the poison gas and accuses Washington of planning to create such situations elsewhere in Syria to discredit the Assad government.
The French, British had raised their banner of a regime change in Damascus but Moscow signalled against it, and Beijing was right behind Moscow on this. The Moscow-Beijing undeclared but tacit understanding has checked the previously held virtual monopoly of agenda-setting by the US-led Europe. “Assad-out” agenda has foundered, much to the chagrin of its setters and sponsors.
Russia in early March 2017 exercised a veto to reject the “politically biased” resolution at the United Nations Security Council and vetoed the US led proposal suggesting that Assad used banned chemical weapons. China too sided with Russia that said the resolution would interfere with the ongoing ceasefire in that war-ridden oil-rich Arab country. The US charged China and Russia of putting their friends “ahead of our global security”.
The fact is that there has been a significant shift in the tide of the US-led monopoly of the West in Syria. Balance in the world order, as the past quarter of a century has so strongly shown, prevents a single side or alliance dictating to the rest of the world. Unipolar world has its consequences.
Kamini Rajbhandari is managing director of Nepal Telecom (NT), the state-owned telecommunication service provider of Nepal. Rajbhandari has been leading...