US SLAMS RUSSIA FOR DEFENDING SYRIA OVER CHEMICAL ATTACK THAT CLAIMED CIVILIAN LIVES

The article originally appeared on India Today.

The United States has come down heavily on Russia for raising questions over a United Nations report that has blamed Syria’s dictator Bashar al Assad for using chemical weapons to kill innocent civilians.

The United Nations-Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (UN-OPCW) released last week its latest report on the Khan Sheikhun sarin gas attack on April 4, 2017 in Syria which had killed over 100 Syrians including children and women concluding that it was indeed the Assad regime that had released the poisonous gas.

The report by the UN-OPCW Joint Investigative Mechanism (JIM), a body of experts formed by the UN Security Council unanimously, said “the panel was confident that the Syrian Arab Republic was responsible for the release of sarin at Khan Sheikhun on 4 April 2017” which was instantly countered by Russia, one of the few allies of the Syrian dictator.

Rejecting the JIM report and the experts behind it, Russia had said the panel of experts had failed to meet the norms of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) in case of Syria with serious lapses and an inept investigation concluding that “a thorough reading of the report showed it to hardly be professionally prepared and it was rather amateurish and was generally based on speculations and selective use of facts.”

Slamming the Russian stand, The White House said, “Russia’s attempts to undermine and eliminate the JIM show a callous disregard for the suffering and loss of life caused by the use of chemical weapons and an utter lack of respect for international norms.”

Calling the Russian bluff, The White House said this April attack was the fourth time the JIM confirmed use of chemical weapons by the Assad regime “underscoring the brutal and horrifying barbarism of Bashar al-Assad” and that protecting such a dictator by Russia even more egregious.

Refuting the Russian demands of a new set of rules for chemical weapons investigators in Syria, the US “implored the UN Security Council to renew the mandate of the JIM so that it may continue to identify the perpetrators of these horrific attacks and send a clear message that the use of chemical weapons will not be tolerated.” Last month Russia had vetoed a proposal in UNSC to extend the JIM’s work in Syria but later on had said that it would soon come up with its motion to set norms for JIM’s extension.

THOUSANDS KILLED IN SYRIAN CHEMICAL ATTACKS

Thousands of Syrians lost their lives in chemical attacks. Though under international pressure, in 2013, Syria signed the Convention on Chemical Weapons that bans production, storage, use and transportation of chemical weapons, it has been alleged that Syria never disclosed its full chemical arsenal for international inspection and destruction.

And these allegations are not baseless. An ABC News report earlier this year, quoting the White House, listed about at least over a dozen chemical attacks in Syria since 2012. These include the chemical attack of August 2013 in Aleppo which killed around 1500 people and left thousands crippled with symptoms of nerve gas attack. There was an international hue and cry but the responsibility could not be affixed.

Also, a BBC report in May this year, based on intelligence documents, said Syria was still making chemical and biological weapons at three sites. The report further said that both Russia and Iran were aware of it. Also, a Human Rights Watch report published the same month said there was evidence of use of nerve gas by Syria in multiple chemical attacks.

After Assad’s chemical attack on April 4 in Idlib city’s Khan Sheikhun, the US had launched a missile attack on a Syrian airbase that was reportedly used to launch the Idlib chemical attack. It was the first direct US military attack on Syria. Syria had then denied its hands and Russia had strongly defended it. On the contrary, it blamed the Syrian rebels for the attack, like it does every time.

ASSAD’S STRENGTH: RUSSIA, CHINA AND IRAN’S SUPPORT

Ignoring the global calls for isolating Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Putin has been standing firm to support him, morally and militarily. Russian fighter jets pounding Syrian rebels and Islamic State bases are a regular occurrence. Almost all major western nations are against al-Assad. If he is standing tall even after that, it is because of Russian support only.

Assad got another big world power in his favour when China, in August 2016, announced to join Russia in providing humanitarian assistance and military training to Syria.

In February 2017, Russia and China vetoed a United Nations Security Council Resolution aimed to impose more sanctions on Syria for using chemical weapons. Then Syria has Iran’s support. Shiite Iran has a religious connect to defend the Syrian government of Alawites, a Shia offshoot, and strategic interests in defeating Syria’s Sunni rebels.

©SantoshChaubey

US HITS BACK, SAYS RUSSIA PROTECTING BASHAR AL ASSAD AND HIS CHEMICAL ATTACKS IS EGREGIOUS

The United States has come down heavily on Russia for raising questions over a United Nations report that has blamed Syria’s dictator Bashar al Assad for using chemical weapons to kill innocent civilians.

The United Nations-Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (UN-OPCW) released last week its latest report on the Khan Sheikhun sarin gas attack on April 4, 2017 in Syria which had killed over 100 Syrians including children and women concluding that it was indeed the Assad regime that had released the poisonous gas.

The report by the UN-OPCW Joint Investigative Mechanism (JIM), a body of experts formed by the UN Security Council unanimously, said “the panel was confident that the Syrian Arab Republic was responsible for the release of sarin at Khan Sheikhun on 4 April 2017″ which was instantly countered by Russia, one of the few allies of the Syrian dictator.

Rejecting the JIM report and the experts behind it, Russia had said the panel of experts had failed to meet the norms of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) in case of Syria with serious lapses and an inept investigation concluding that “a thorough reading of the report showed it to hardly be professionally prepared and it was rather amateurish and was generally based on speculations and selective use of facts.”

Slamming the Russian stand, The White House today said, “Russia’s attempts to undermine and eliminate the JIM show a callous disregard for the suffering and loss of life caused by the use of chemical weapons and an utter lack of respect for international norms.”

Calling the Russian bluff, The White House said this April attack was the fourth time the JIM confirmed use of chemical weapons by the Assad regime “underscoring the brutal and horrifying barbarism of Bashar al-Assad” and that protecting such a dictator by Russia even more egregious.

Refuting the Russian demands of a new set of rules for chemical weapons investigators in Syria, the US “implored the UN Security Council to renew the mandate of the JIM so that it may continue to identify the perpetrators of these horrific attacks and send a clear message that the use of chemical weapons will not be tolerated.” Last month Russia had vetoed a proposal in UNSC to extend the JIM’s work in Syria but later on had said that it would soon come up with its motion to set norms for JIM’s extension.

Thousands of Syrians have lost their lives in chemical attacks. Though under international pressure, in 2013, Syria signed the Convention on Chemical Weapons that bans production, storage, use and transportation of chemical weapons, it has been alleged that Syria never disclosed its full chemical arsenal for international inspection and destruction.

And these allegations are not baseless. An ABC News report earlier this year, quoting the White House, listed about at least over a dozen chemical attacks in Syria since 2012. These include the chemical attack of August 2013 in Aleppo which killed around 1500 people and left thousands others crippled with symptoms of nerve gas attack. There was an international hue and cry but the responsibility could not be affixed.

Also, a BBC report in May this year, based on intelligence documents, said Syria was still making chemical and biological weapons at three sites. The report further said that both Russia and Iran were aware of it. Also, a Human Rights Watch report published the same month said there was evidence of use of nerve gas by Syria in multiple chemical attacks.

After Assad’s chemical attack on April 4 in Idlib city’s Khan Sheikhun, the US had launched a missile attack on a Syrian airbase that was reportedly used to launch the Idlib chemical attack. It was the first direct US military attack on Syria. Syria had then denied its hands and Russia had strongly defended it. On the contrary, it blamed the Syrian rebels for the attack, like it does every time.

©SantoshChaubey

HUMAN COST OF SYRIAN CIVIL WAR

On March 15 this year, Syrian civil war completed its sixth year, and going by the state of affairs now, even after the first ever direct US missile attack on a Syrian regime airbase, no end looks in sight.

The result is the human cost – the biggest human crisis since the World War II.

Since the beginning of the Syrian civil war, around 5,00,000 Syrians have been killed in the civil war, some 7,00,000 are trapped in various conflict theatres and over 6 million are internally displaced.

To cap it is the number of Syrian refugees. According to the UN, at the end of March 2017, the number of registered Syrian refugees, scattered in different countries, stood at 5.1 million. It is more than ten times the count of Syrian refugees in 2012. And the actual number may be even higher. Unofficial figures quote over 7 million Syrian refugees and over 12 million internally displaced.

Dependent and helpless, children are the biggest losers in any civil war. According to UNICEF, 23 million Syrian children had to flee the country while another 3 million are living in conflict theatres and cut-off regions and they need immediate help. According to the website http://www.iamsyria.org, the Syrian civil has killed around over 50,000 children.

12 million human lives, including millions of children, dead, trapped in conflict theatres, forced to flee their homes and even their country, that is the human cost the Syrian civil war and it is still unfolding.

According to a report from the Syrian Centre for Policy Research, the ongoing Syrian civil war has wiped 11.5 per cent of the Syrian population.

Thousands have died in their desperate rush to cross the Mediterranean Sea to find refuge in Europe, 5000 of them alone in 2016.

Thousands of them have been killed in chemical attacks. Though under international pressure, in 2013, Syria signed the Convention on Chemical Weapons that bans production, storage, use and transportation of chemical weapons, it has been alleged that Syria never disclosed its full chemical arsenal for international inspection and destruction.

And these allegations are not baseless. A recent ABC News report, quoting the White House, speaks about at least over a dozen chemical attacks in Syria since 2012. These include the chemical attack of August 2013 in Aleppo which killed around 1500 people and left thousands others crippled with symptoms of nerve gas attack. There was an international hue and cry but the responsibility could not be affixed.

Yesterday’s US missile attack on a Syrian airbase was in response to a chemical attack in Syria’s Idlib city which killed over 100. It was the first direct US military attack on Syria and was targeted at a Syrian airbase that was reportedly used to launch the Idlib chemical attack. Syria has denied its hands and its ally Russia has strongly defended it. On the contrary, it has blamed the Syrian rebels for the attack, like it does every time.

The never ending Syrian crisis has forced the biggest migration of people since the Second World War – a wave that countries, especially the European ones are feeling too difficult a crisis to handle. Syrians are the biggest migrants group in Europe – those who have got asylum – those who are still waiting in the ‘nowhere’ zone – and those who lost their lives while trying to reach those elusive borders of the European continent.

©SantoshChaubey

FROM AYLAN KURDI TO OMRAN DAQNEESH: SYRIAN CRISIS HAS ONLY GONE FROM BAD TO WORSE!

Five years ago, in 2011, when the Syrian revolution had begun, the US administration led by President Barack Obama had asserted that ‘Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s days are numbered’. Hillary Clinton, then the US Secretary of State and now the Democratic Presidential nominee, had reiterated this ‘version’ in 2012. It had given the Syrian people, those opposing Assad and the Syrian rebels, hope then that the Arab Spring would soon see a successful rebellion in the country.

Five years down the line, Syria has become the worst humanitarian crisis since the days of the Second World War. The images coming from the country are horrible. They leave you choked, sometimes in tears. And some of them become the global rallying points – like last year, when images of a three year old dead Syrian boy Aylan Kurdi washed ashore on a Turkish coast while trying to cross the Mediterranean to get into Europe – or last week this year, when the images of a five year old Syrian boy, Omran Daqneesh, stained with blood and rubble – became the global expression of outrage.

These two images symbolize what Syrians are going through. They have nowhere to call home – not in Syria – not outside Syria. Omran Daqneesh’s image is from Aleppo, a Syrian town that is considered rebels’ stronghold. Alylan Kurdi was found dead on a European coast. The five years of the Syrian civil war has effectively obliterated the past, the present and the future of the millions of Syrians.

Aylan-Omran

Image Courtesy: Reuters

When the Aylan Kurdi’s image had hit the world headlines in September 2015, some 13 million Syrians needed immediate humanitarian support. The figures from an Amnesty International report say that by September 2015, the Syrian civil war had left 220,000 dead, over 4 million refugees and 50 percent of its leftover population internally displaced (some 10 million).

From September 2015 to August 2016, the Syrian crisis has only gone from bad to worse. Now there are over 6.5 million Syrian refugees scattered in different countries. The civil war death toll now stands at around 500,000. If we draw a plausible line according to the figures available from the Syrian rebel factions and as per the increased hostilities aided by the Russian bombings, the internally displaced population now stands at around 12 million.

Yet the world community does nothing more than counting the Syrian dead while the number of victims is rapidly going up.

On one side, an emboldened dictator-cum-mercenary-cum-warlord-cum-butcher, after the Russian support, is slaying his countrymen in flocks, using even the chemical weapons. Then there are terror outfits like the Islamic State or the Al Qaeda affiliates or even the Syrian rebel factions. They have sandwiched the common Syrians – killing them, forcing them to live under siege or forcing them to flee the country – to a place where they don’t know if they will see the next dawn.

This ongoing horror has given us another event that once again raises questions on us being the members of a globalized world run by a globalized code with a unifying organization like the United Nations. Barring few, almost all countries are its members.

Events like Syria say the UN is failing; the world community is failing – because the Syrian crisis/civil war is now in its sixth year while the major police nations of the world, who invade an Afghanistan, an Iraq or a Libya, have let that happen. Afghanistan invasion could have been a spontaneous response to the 9/11 attacks in the US but the flimsy grounds on which the Iraq offensive had been launched has always been in questions. The latest British public inquiry report into the Iraq war, the Chilcot Report, which was submitted on July 6, 2016, states that Saddam Hussein didn’t pose imminent threat and that the war should have been averted.

In this globalized world, Syria has become the only war-torn/civil-war-hit country to see a decline in its population – with hundreds of thousands killed and millions displaced. According to reports, since the crisis began in 2011, Syria has seen some 11.5% decline in its population.

The never ending Syrian crisis has forced the biggest migration of people since the Second World War – a wave that the European countries are feeling too difficult a crisis to handle. Syrians are the biggest migrants group in Europe – those who have got asylum – those who are still waiting in the ‘nowhere’ zone – and those who lost their lives while trying to reach those elusive borders of the European continent.

The countless images coming out of Syria – of Omran Daqneesh, of Aylan Kurdi, of Syrians dying in chemical and explosive attacks, and of ghost towns with ravaged buildings – sum up the horror tens of thousands of human-beings are forced to live day in, day out, seeking the shore to fix their lives, a shore that is increasingly becoming elusive.

Yes, we live in a world that has always been plagued with ‘humanity killing developments’ like wars, crusades, religious wars, ethnic cleansings and the Holocaust, yet images like these, again and again, leave us thoughtless, speechless, soulless and lifeless. They say all. Their backdrop becomes hauntingly clear just by a mere look. Images like these make our lives beyond redemption. They put us all, the combined human masses of the world, in the dock over a crime that humanity can never get rid of. They rightly negate our claims of being the citizens of a civilized world.

©SantoshChaubey

SYRIAN HOLOCAUST

On June 28, an offensive against the Islamic State led by the US backed Syrian rebels who were trained by the Pentagon miserably failed as the US fighter jets failed to provide the most important strategic element – the air cover. They instead chose to divert the planes to another target in Iraq. The result – the rebels had to retreat incurring heavy loss – along with the fear psychosis that the US may now abandon them mid way in future operations. Okay, that may be like stretching it too far as the US has justified its move, but when we see the human crisis in Syria – when we see the biggest human travesty since the Second World War – it gives enough room to question the intentions of the world community – and the US decision to divert its fighter jets is just symptomatic of that.

After the Holocaust, Syria is the biggest horror humanity has seen and to make the matters even worse, it is still ongoing with no end in sight.

On one side, an emboldened dictator-cum-mercenary-cum-warlord-cum-butcher, after the Russian support (courtesy another dictator), is slaying his own countrymen in flocks, using even the chemical weapons.

Then there are terror outfits like the Islamic State or the Al Qaeda affiliates or even the Syrian rebel factions.

They have sandwiched the common Syrians – killing them, forcing them to live under siege or forcing them to flee the country – to a place where they don’t know if they will see the next dawn.

This ongoing horror has given us another event that once again raises questions on us being the members of a globalized world run by a globalized code with a unifying organization like the United Nations. Almost the whole globe is member of the UN.

Events like Syria say the UN is failing; the world community is failing – because the Syrian crisis/civil war is now in its sixth year while the major police nations of the world, who invade an Afghanistan, an Iraq or a Libya, have let that happen. Afghanistan invasion could have been the spontaneous response to the 9/11 attacks in the US but the flimsy grounds on which the Iraq offensive had been launched had always been in questions. The latest British public inquiry report into the Iraq war, the Chilcot Report, which was submitted on July 6, states that Saddam Hussein didn’t pose imminent threat and that the war should have been averted.

In this globalized world, Syria has become the only war-torn/civil-war-hit country to see a decline in its population – with hundreds of thousands killed and millions displaced. Syrians are the biggest migrants group in Europe – those who have got asylum – those who are still waiting in the ‘nowhere’ zone – and those who lost their lives while trying to reach those elusive borders of the European continent.

The never-ending Syrian crisis has forced the biggest migration of people since the Second World War – a wave that the European countries are feeling too difficult a crisis to handle. Last year, in 2015, there were more 1.3 million migrants seeking asylum in Europe and the pack was led by Syria.

According to reports, since the crisis began in 2011, Syria has seen some 11.5% decline in its population. From this assessment, if the pre-conflict Syrian population in 2010 was 21.5 million, it should be around 19 million now. According to the Syrian Centre for Policy Research, the five years of Syrian civil war has killed some 470,000 Syrians while some 480,000 are forced to live under siege.

But when we count in the ongoing refugee crisis in Europe or the Syrian refugee crisis in totality, the inland Syrian population looks even thinner. Some 5 to 6 million Syrians are in different refugee camps – in Turkey, Lebanon, and Jordan and in many European countries.

This – the population decline – has not been seen even in the war-torn nations and the crisis hotbeds like Somalia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Yemen.

Now compare this to the other major ongoing war theatres in the world – Iraq and Afghanistan.

A study report by some universities including the University of Washington in 2013 stated that over 5,00,000 people were killed in the ongoing Iraq war since its beginning in 2003. Iraq Body Count, a Britain based organisation that collects its information from media reports, puts the count to around 2,50,000.

An MIT report (Iraq: The Human Cost) says the ongoing Iraq war has displaced around 3.5 million to 5 million people. But the figure includes both internal and external refugees. Here we need to keep in mind that the external Iraqi refugees were basically in the camps of Jordan and Syria. So it is a double blow for them – first they had to leave their home for Syria. And then even Syria!

In Afghanistan, the ongoing war since the US led invasion in 2001 had killed around 1,00,000 by December 2014 as per a Brown University report. The same report puts the Afghan refugee count to around 2.7 million whereas the war has displaced over 7,00,000 internally.

The Afghan war has been ongoing since the last 15 years – and the Iraq war since the last 13. Yet, the Syrian war has overshadowed both of them in terms of the human cost of the war – in a span of just six years – in terms of human lives lost – and in terms of humans lives displaced. To make things worse, unlike the Afghani and Iraqi migrants, who basically migrate to the countries sharing land borders, the Syrian refugees are forced to cross the Mediterranean Sea which killed around 4000 of them in 2015.

And there is no end in sight. The dictator, the rebels, the lynchpin and the “occasional vigilantes’ (the police nations of the world) – all are out there – frozen on their respective poles – even if it means half a million killed – half a million internally displaced – and six million in refugee camps.

Hundreds of thousands of Syrians have died. Hundreds of thousands are in danger zones, facing imminent threat to their lives. Hundreds of thousands are starving to death. Millions in refugee camps are stuck not knowing what to do with their lives. Majority of schools and hospitals in Syria are gone, ruined or annihilated in the ongoing war.

It is the next Holocaust the world has created – like it had done with Adolf Hitler. The first Holocaust was in making much before the organised pogrom began on a large scale in 1940 but the world refused to intervene – something that finally ended up killed around 10 million including the six million Jews.

Where the Syrian Holocaust would end?

©SantoshChaubey

THE SYRIAN HOLOCAUST

After the Holocaust, Syria is the biggest horror humanity has seen and to make the matters even worse, it is still ongoing with no end in sight.

On one side, an emboldened dictator-cum-mercenary-cum-warlord-cum-butcher, after the Russian support (courtesy another dictator), is slaying his own countrymen in flocks, using even the chemical weapons.

Then there are terror outfits like the Islamic State or the Al Qaeda affiliates or even the Syrian rebel factions.

They have sandwiched the common Syrians – killing them, forcing them to live under siege or forcing them to flee the country – to a place where they can see the dawn of next day.

And this ongoing horror has given us another event that once again raises questions on us being the members of a globalized world run by a globalized code with a unifying organization like the United Nations. Almost the whole globe is member of the UN.

Events like Syria say the UN is failing; the world community is failing – because the Syrian crisis/civil war is now in its sixth year while the major police nations of the world, who invade an Afghanistan, an Iraq or a Libya, have let that happen.

As a result, in this globalized world, Syria has become the only war-torn/civil-war-hit country to see a decline in its population – with hundreds of thousands killed and millions displaced. Syrians are the biggest migrants group in Europe – those who have got asylum – those who are still waiting in ‘nowhere’ zone – and those who lost their lives while trying to reach those elusive borders of the European continent.

According to the reports, since the crisis began in 2011, Syria has seen some 11.5% decline in its population. From this assessment, if the pre-conflict Syrian population, in 2010, was 21.5 million, it should be around 19 million now. According to the Syrian Centre for Policy Research, the five years of Syrian civil war has killed some 470,000 Syrians while some 480,000 are forced to live under siege.

But when we count in the ongoing refugee crisis in Europe or the Syrian refugee crisis in totality, the inland Syrian population looks even thinner. Some 5 to 6 million Syrians are in different refugee camps – in Turkey, Lebanon, and Jordan and in many European countries.

This – the population decline – has not been seen even in the war-torn nations and the crisis hotbeds like Somalia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Yemen.

Hundreds of thousands of Syrians have died. Hundreds of thousands are in danger zones, facing imminent threat to their lives. Hundreds of thousands are starving to death. Millions in refugee camps are stuck with their lives. Majority of schools and hospitals in Syria are gone, ruined or annihilated in the ongoing war.

And we, in the larger world community, are to blame for it. We are letting the Syrian Holocaust happen.

©SantoshChaubey