By John Wight on December 16, 2016
What stood out most during the verbal broadside unleashed by Washington’s ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, at her Iranian, Syrian and Russian counterparts over the fighting in Aleppo, was her ability to do so with a straight face. It was testament to the ability of US exceptionalism to keep its proponents cocooned from reality.
“Aleppo will join the ranks of those events in world history that define modern evil, that stain our conscience decades later. Halabja, Rwanda, Srebrenica, and, now, Aleppo,” Power said, from the vantage point of a moral high ground resting on foundations of quicksand.
Rather conveniently, the US Ambassador neglected to add Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, or Libya to her list, countries ravaged and destroyed in service to US and Western imperialism. Or how about Gaza and Yemen, where Israel and Saudi Arabia, Washington’s closest Middle East, have engaged in the mass slaughter of civilians? Yes, there was no mention of that either by Ms Power.
When it comes to Aleppo’s suffering, the scenes of celebration by thousands of its citizens over their liberation refutes the attempt by Power and others in the West to paint the Syrian Arab Army, made up of soldiers from every sector of the country’s religious, ethnic, and cultural mosaic, as a latter day Waffen SS, an army of occupation executing women and children at random. At the same time, of course, Salafi-jihadist groups such as the Nusra Front (now Jabhat Fatah al-Sham) and Jaysh al Islam have been painted as the modern day equivalent of the French resistance or Partisans.
It has been preposterous to behold, part of an intense campaign of demonization motivated not by any concern for human rights or civilians, as maintained, but over the fact that Washington and the West’s objective of regime change in Damascus has been denied.
The narrative being spun that civilians are being executed in east Aleppo has been disputed by the sight of thousands of those very civilians seeking sanctuary in government held west Aleppo throughout the fighting. Many of those civilians have reported people being shot at by armed groups for daring to try to leave. Ultimately, the reports widely carried in the Western media of atrocities being committed by pro-government forces remain unverified. There have been no Western journalists in east Aleppo throughout the conflict, for the simple reason that none dare set foot in that part of the city, knowing full well that they would likely be kidnapped and/or murdered in the event.
No one with a heart could deny the scale of human suffering that has taken place in Syria, with Aleppo its most grievous recent example. This brutal conflict, as it enters its sixth year, is one that involves the armed forces of a secular government of a pluralist country, along with its allies, pitted against an Islamic Khmer Rouge in various guises, backed by the Saudis, Qataris, Kuwaitis, and Western governments that have throughout this war played a game of good jihadists versus bad jihadists.
Clearly, the sheer number of people who have perished and suffered is so shocking it is hard to comprehend. This number includes upwards of 60,000 Syrian troops, as revealed by the UK’s Middle East correspondent, Robert Fisk, back in August. Fisk, along with his colleague at the UK Independent newspaper, Patrick Cockburn, has long enjoyed an estimable reputation as one of the world’s foremost Western reporters working out of the region. Yet now both he and Cockburn find themselves being widely calumniated as pro-Assad stooges by the ‘victory to the revolution’ mob that habituates much of the left in the West.
The point that needs to be made is that no serious person could deny that many thousands more civilians would have perished in the event Nusra and other such groups managed to succeed in taking control of Aleppo, rather than pro-government forces.
Meanwhile, placing Aleppo in its proper context leads us to the irrefutable role of Washington in prolonging the suffering of a country whose only crime is that it was deemed next in line for regime change, but which unlike those that have gone before – Iraq and Libya – has proved strong enough to withstand it.
For those in doubt, Washington’s objective of destabilizing Syria dates back to at least 2006, evidenced in the classified memo, made public by WikiLeaks, that was sent from the US embassy in Damascus to Washington in December of that year. It contains an analysis of the Assad government, its strengths and weaknesses, and how it might be undermined. What should be borne in mind is that there is a direct correlation between this long term US strategy when it comes to Syria, and the disinformation that has been rolled out in response to the fact that Syrian forces, supported by its Russian, Iranian, and Lebanese allies, are winning the conflict.
This is not to allege that there was not a movement for reform in Syria back in 2011, inspired by an Arab Spring that had swept across the region demanding democratic and political change. And this is not to suggest that the Syrians who supported this movement did not have any legitimate grievances with their government. But there is a marked difference between reform and ruin, and it is the latter course upon which this movement embarked when it was taken over by Salafi-jihadists intent on the mass slaughter and extermination of the country’s minorities.
Samantha Power knows all this, of course; she knows it but chooses to ignore it, favoring instead moral tirades of the sort she unleashed at the UN against those who are fighting to save yet another Arab country from the fate of the sectarian abyss fashioned in Riyadh and supported by Washington as a lesser evil when compared to a secular Arab state that refuses to kowtow to its writ.
In the last analysis, being lectured to by a representative of Washington on human rights violations and war crimes is like being told to sit up straight by the Hunchback of Notre Dame.