‘‘Mission Accomplished’’?

It is a living hell—Syria. It is not Syrian territory that is being divided but humanity. Quite expectedly the latest alleged atrocity in Syria’s agonising seven-year-old civil war invited immediate condemnation from the United States and European Union but Moscow and Teheran, Assad’s backers dismissed allegations of a chemical attack as ‘‘bogus’’. Maybe, allegation of use of toxic gas against civilians is true. Maybe not. But it is certainly an excuse for Donald Trump to talk tough. They used to talk tough before a full-scale invasion of Iraq under the pretext of halting Saddam’s programme of weapons of mass destruction. At that time it was somewhat easy for Washington to do whatever they liked, unilaterally because Russia was nowhere in the war scenario. This time Moscow is very much involved in the Syrian war making it difficult for Trump and his allies to make it a cake-walk.

In response to an alleged chemical attack in Syria US President Donald Trump, on April 11, said that ‘‘missiles will be coming’’ only to destablise the already fragile situation in the region. And 3 days later America alongwith Britain and France launched air strikes on Syria and Russia denounced the bombing as an ‘‘act of agression’’ that will exacerbate humanitarian catastrophe in Syria.

Rescue workers in Syria reported finding at least 42 people dead in their homes from apparent suffocation. The alleged chemical offensive appeared to break the will of Douma’s rebels who finally agreed to leave the place. The rescue volunteers working under the banner of the White Helmets, mostly deal with the aftermath of government air strikes. But they have risked sniper fire to rescue bodies of government soldiers as well, to give them a proper burial. Bakers, tailors, engineers, pharmacists, painters, carpenters, students and many more, the White Helmets, are from all walks of life. Many have paid the ultimate price for their noble mission—2011 have already been killed while saving others. Amidst total gloom and despair this civic society group provides hope for millions.

Meanwhile UN once again proves that it is no better than a toothless tiger. The all powerful Security Council routinely passes empty resolutions with no mechanism of enforcement. It’s more like India’s National Human Rights Commission.

The UN Security Council passed Resolution 2139 in 2014 which banned barrel bombs and other indiscriminate weapons. They promised to take further steps if their resolution was violated. More than two years later, thousands more barrel bombs have been dropped, killing thousands more women and children. And now the alleged use of toxic gas in Douma. The Council didn’t act. And most Syrians think the Council won’t do anything concrete even in the near future other than dishing out ‘slippery wording’ that allows all stakeholders to continue their genocidal campaign.

In 2015, they passed another resolution banning the use of chlorine as a chemical weapon. They said if chemical attacks continue, they would take action under the ‘‘Chapter VII’’ of the UN charter—which would allow them to use force to protect civilians. Again they did nothing in the field. As per western media reports there have been dozens of chemical attacks since the Security Council first reacted to the situation. Right now Syrians are raising the slogan ‘stop the chlorine, stop the bomb’. But the Security Council is unlikely to go beyond passing another resolution.

There is every reason to believe that America and western powers are trying to convince the world about Assad’s barbaric act with an inflated scenario of ‘chemical war’.

‘Barrel Bombs’ are horrible. Some times they are filled with Chlorine and they are the biggest killer of civilians in Syria today. As the conflict in Syria worsens after the joint air strikes by America, Britain and France, ordinary people are paying the highest price. More than 50 bombs and morters a day land on some neighbourhoods in Syria as per conservative estimates of the Syrian Civil Defence—the White Helmets. The civil defence body has so far saved, more than 114,431 lives and this number is growing.

As long as the tumultuous Syrian civil war grinds on the dance of death, displacement and physical destruction shows no sign of ending. Human Rights Watch, in its latest report stated that the number of deaths since the conflict began tops 400,000 and other UN agencies’ estimates of refugees abroad at 5 million and those internally displaced, living in basements and tents, at 6 million. Today Syria symbolises many Vietnams, not one Vietnam. The Syrian government has been consistently denying western accusation of using banned weapons such as chlorine or sarin throughout the country’s civil war. But the public opinion across the world is divided. As this is being written, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) is likely to convene a meeting to discuss alleged use of chemical weapons in the Syrian Arab Republic. The point of discussion is Douma—the scenario of chemical attacks. Not all European countries are with Trump’s reckless war-mongering. Chancellor Angela Merkel said Germany would not participate in US-led military action in Syria. But who is going to investigate? Nobody. Because the UN Security Council failed to adopt two competing resolutions that would have established a mechanism to investigate use of chemical weapons in Syria as well as another concerning a fact-finding mission in the war-torn country. The Council failed to rally the votes needed to launch an independent mechanism of investigations into the incident as delegates simply voiced their frustration over the stalemate and policy paralysis.

But Washington has no respect for UN nor its attempt to form an independent body to investigate the allegations. Defying peace marchers across the world Trump devastated Syria as Bush did a few years ago in Iraq.

Simply stated, every idea of human solidarity, every faith is being tested in Syria. And nothing will remain the same. It was true at the beginning of the Syrian crisis, in 2011, and it is true now.


Vol. 50, No.42, Apr 22 - 28, 2018