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COLUMNISTS

Syria’s Civilian Suffering – Western Imperialism Resorts to Medieval Barbarity

Finian CUNNINGHAM | 14.04.2013 | 00:00
 

The human suffering in Syria, which has escalated from crisis to disaster over the past two years, is the nefarious work of Western governments and their regional allies. It is a simple, provable, glaringly obvious truth. Yet, the thought-control Western mainstream media manage to somehow turn reality on its head, and make a virtue out of something vile and unspeakably villainous. 

Western imperialism has created a human tsunami of suffering in Syria. And rather than making any effort to mitigate this suffering by delivering on much promised refugee aid, the Western powers seem to exploiting the massive misery for political advantage to further undermine the Syrian state and government. This tactic of enforced human deprivation is straight out of the Middle Ages, when invading armies would hold siege of cities by enforcing starvation on the occupants. 

Two reports this week testify to the above conclusion – albeit indirectly. The first comes from various United Nations relief organizations for refugees. The UN agencies say that food, water and other basic provisions to some 1.3 million refugees that have poured out of Syria and to more than 4 million remaining within the war-torn country will soon no longer be afforded. The dire situation is because only a fraction of the $1.5 billion pledged earlier this year by international donors has actually been received.

Reuters cited Panos Moumtzis, the UN refugee agency’s regional coordinator for Syrian refugees, as saying: «The speed with which the crisis is deteriorating is much faster than the ability of the international community to finance the Syrian humanitarian needs».

The suffering in Lebanon, where most of the Syrian refugees have fled, seems particularly acute. A spokesman for the World Food Program gave this grim warning: «In one month, and with the current funding, more than 400,000 Syrian refugees in Lebanon will no longer receive food assistance».

The number of people displaced inside and outside Syria – more than 5 million – represents about 20 per cent of the total population. In the space of just two years, Syria has gone from a relatively wealthy, stable and peaceful state that was one of the most politically and culturally pluralist in the Middle East to a post-apocalyptic charnel house. 

How could such a rapid descent into barbarism be possible? Could a once-stable society really implode like this without external forces bearing down?  Why do Western governments seem able to readily find hundreds of millions of dollars worth of material and logistics to aid so-called rebel groups in Syria, yet remain so parsimonious when it comes to the crying needs of refugees? Is such human suffering being used as a tactical weapon by Western governments? How can Western media organizations, in particular, get away with not asking such pertinent questions?

A plethora of militant groups – many of them not even Syrian, but rather comprised of foreign mercenaries – have in the same time frame spawned from pockets of sporadic resistance towards Syrian government forces to become heavily armed battle groups that are now capable of holding down towns and provincial areas, while carrying out indiscriminate car bomb attacks on the capital, Damascus, and the country’s second city, Aleppo. 

Given the nature of the indiscriminate bomb and gun attacks on civilians by these militants, and countless sources of evidence for massacres, executions and other heinous violations, as well as the lack of support from the general populace, these militants can rightly be termed «terrorist» in an objective sense. They have admitted so themselves with one of the main fighting groups – the Al Nusra Front – this week openly declaring its affiliation with Al Qaeda. The latter, we have been told over and over again for the past decade and more by Western governments and news media, is supposedly the number one terrorist threat facing the world. 

In yet another whistle-stop tour of the Middle East, US Secretary of State John Kerry talked euphemistically about «galvanizing the Syrian opposition». Kerry is coming a bit late to the game – at least in public. For months now, his British and French counterparts, William Hague and Laurent Fabius, have been brazenly calling for overt arming of Syria’s «opposition» (that is, terrorists) to overthrow the government of Bashar Al Assad. 

This official posturing is but a charade. These Western regimes have already been supplying weapons, funding, training and logistics to Syria’s death squads. Last month, Croatian media sources reported that the US and Britain had coordinated the supply of 3,000 tonnes of weaponry – 75 plane loads – out of Zagreb to militants in Syria. One of the recipients was the Ahrar Al Sham group, which is aligned to Al Nusra and, by extension, Al Qaeda. 

The airlift of weapons dates back to at least November 2012 and was conducted in liaison with Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Jordan. That weapons conduit is just one of many that the Western powers have been running into Syria over the past two years. 

The myopic Western mainstream media are so pre-occupied with advancing government spin on a day-to-day basis that they fail to see or acknowledge the big picture, even when that big picture falls on their heads with clunking conclusions. 

Firstly, Syria is being ravaged by militant groups that seem to have miraculously materialised out of thin air. Even if we don’t describe these groups as terrorists, but give them the more favourable label of «rebels» as the Western media choose to do, it is still abundantly clear that these groups would not be anywhere near as armed-and-dangerous if it were not for the material support from the Western governments and their regional allies. Violence in Syria is therefore largely a Western creation. Instead of elaborating on that line of investigation, the Western corporate media evade and obfuscate. 

But the added indictment is that these groups are evidently terrorist in their operations. The facts of indiscriminate multiple car bombs in Damascus and Aleppo that have killed hundreds of civilians, women and children, make this definition incontestable. So there you have it: Western governments, despite all their lofty rhetoric about international law, human rights and the war on terror, are in alliance with terrorists. These governments are using terrorism to achieve their political ends of regime change in Syria. How damningly contradictory of every supposed Western government precept and principle is that?

It seems incredible that the Western media are unaware of long-held plans – going back decades – by the US and its Western allies to topple the Syrian government. US President Dwight Eisenhower and his British counterpart Harold McMillan dallied with the scheme back in 1957. Then it was revived under the watch of President George W Bush in 2007, according to American journalist Seymour Hersch. Under the cover of the Arab Spring revolts across the region in 2011, the US, British and French planners got their opportunity to fully destabilize Syria. That agenda for regime change in Syria has gained impetus from the Western imperialist agenda to re-draw the oil-rich Middle East in its image and interests, to undermine Iran and to cut off Russia and China from vital natural resources. This geopolitical perspective explains much more about what is happening in Syria than naïve Western media narratives about a «Syrian Arab Spring revolt for popular democracy». 

The second conclusion from events in Syria that the Western media incredibly feign to ignore is that the sudden and dramatic increase in suffering of some 5 million displaced and homeless Syrians is indisputably correlated with the above dramatic increase in Western-sponsored violence in the country. If it weren’t for the flow of arms and money to Syrian terrorists from Western governments and their regional conduits, it is a safe bet that 5 million Syrians would be presently enjoying the relative comfort of their homes rather than subsisting in tents and hovels in bordering Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey and Iraq. 

Thirdly, it can be concluded that the lack of funds that the UN refugee relief agencies are decrying stand in stark contrast to the hundreds of millions of dollars that Western governments and their Gulf Arab dictator allies have readily delivered to the Syrian terrorist network. The US and Britain have between them stumped up over $300 million of «non-lethal aid» to Syria’s «opposition». Those funds have been matched by the oil-rich dictatorships in Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. And that’s just the publicly declared amounts. Who knows how many more millions of dollars are flowing in from black budgets to fuel the violence?

In stark contrast, where is the aid for the UN refugee relief effort? Reuters reports that UN coordinator Panos Moumtzis is soon to visit the United States, Brussels and London with a begging bowl «to chase» promised, but as yet undelivered, donations.

Meanwhile, on the ground, aid workers say they are already in desperate straits. «It is a catastrophe. We are being asked to do more and more with less and less,» said UNHCR’s Lebanon representative Ninette Kelley in the southern coastal town of Tyre. «We simply don’t have the resources that we need in order to provide the assistance that is so desperately needed by the refugees».

So let’s draw this further damning conclusion. Syria’s humanitarian crisis of 5 million people living under tents and now facing no food or water is a direct result of Western states playing a callous game of regime change, funding terrorist groups to wreck a society and bring a sovereign government to its knees. One has to conclude that the unconscionable «mis-allocation» of funds is a deliberate calculation by the Western powers and their proxies to maximize civilian suffering and thereby intensify the political pressure on the Syrian authorities. 

This use of human suffering for political ends is of course a war crime, committed by the Western governments and conveniently obfuscated by their servile media. The barbarity of using human deprivation as a weapon harks back to the starvation sieges inflicted on cities by European armies in medieval times. And yet the same tactic is today being deployed against Syria, with barely a whimper of concern or question from Western mainstream media – supposedly bastions of free speech and critical, independent thinking. 

At the beginning of this piece, we mentioned a second report this week that implicates the Western governments for Syria’s suffering – albeit indirectly. That report comes from the US-based Human Rights Watch group. The 80-page document entitled ‘Death from the Skies’ is presented as a damning study of civilian atrocities allegedly as a result of Syrian army air strikes. The report is, however, more accurately a damning study of pro-Western government bias by HRW. It relies heavily on «opposition activists» for testimonies and data, and it focuses entirely on sites allegedly attacked by Syrian government forces. HRW casually admits that «opposition» groups have committed atrocities yet it focuses solely on alleged government crimes. Perversely, given the above evidence of illegal Western, Turk and Arab arms funneling into Syria, HRW reserves exclusive censure for Russia and China for their official supply of weapons to the Syrian government – supply arrangements that have long been in place under bilateral legal trade agreements.  

«Russia and China’s refusal to support even mild resolutions have paralyzed the [United Nations] Security Council, preventing it from taking action that would meet its responsibility to protect the Syrian people from serious violations of international human rights and humanitarian law,» says the HRW report. But there is no condemnation of the far more urgent and extant source of violence in Syria stemming from Western governments and their criminal sponsorship of terrorist groups. 

The disproportionate cause of violence in Syria from Western-backed forces is inadvertently indicated by the HRW report. It says that it recorded about 4,300 civilian deaths allegedly from Syrian army air strikes on population centres between July 2012 and the end of March 2013 – a period of nine months. 

Even if we accept that figure as accurate, it still pales in significance to the total death toll. This week Reuters reported that at least 10,000 people have been killed in Syria over the past two months alone.  Over a nine-month period that death rate would scale up to 45,000. That total death toll equates to 10 times what HRW attribute to victims of Syrian government air strikes. In other words, the discrepancy implies that the preponderance of violence and victims is being perpetrated by non-government forces – the very groups that the Western regimes and their allies are financing and arming.

There can be no mistake or misunderstanding. Syria is a humanitarian disaster made by the West. And, to add massive insult to the massive injury, there is not even a token of aid to the millions of Western-generated victims. Indeed, the West is too busy creating more victims and suffering to expedite its pathological imperialist agenda in Syria and the wider region.

And all the while, the Western mainstream media, with their pretentious claims of free-thinking and speech, act as the dutiful fog machine, hiding the facts, blurring reality and choking any questions that might reveal the grotesque obscenity of what the Western regimes are up to… 

 
Tags: Al Qaeda Middle East Syria US Kerry
 

 
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Finian CUNNINGHAM


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