A Bridge Too Far

US representative at the UN, Samantha Powers, lamented the recent vetoes that China and the Russian Federation have cast in the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) against referring war crimes in Syria to the International Criminal Court (ICC). Her disappointment, she declared to the world, was that not only the Syrian government would get away with war crimes it has committed, but also the «terrorists” who behead people and commit crimes against minorities. She presented the UNSC Resolution as balanced, designed to investigate war crimes by all parties to the Syrian conflict. France and the US were among the thirteen UNSC members that voted for the Resolution.

French (and Western) propaganda painted a picture of the Syrian conflict as one between the state and a legitimate opposition that resorted to war to reclaim Syria for democracy from the claws of the Syrian regime. The French pointed out that Lakhdar Brahimi, the UN envoy to Syria, had resigned his position earlier because he could not bring the two sides together. The French blame Brahimi’s resignation on the Syrian regime for refusing to make concessions to the armed opposition. Instead, the Syrian regime has banked on military victory. The US and French enunciations respectively clearly contradict events on the ground. First, there is hardly an armed opposition that is not radical Islamist and many of those opposition groups have links to al-Qaeda, if not directly associated with it. Second, in light of the above, the French (and the US) are effectively calling upon the Syrian regime to negotiate with international radical Islamist terrorists.

On another level Samantha Powers’ contrived lament regarding the two vetoes cast recently at the UNSC is easily exposed in light of the multiple times the US had vetoed UNSC Resolutions condemning Israeli atrocities against the Palestinian people. The US outcry against human rights violations on the part of the Syrian regime, assuming that those charges are true, would pale in comparison to the crimes against humanity that George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld had committed in the invasion of Iraq, not to mention Afghanistan that they had orchestrated. Those individuals constituted the true axis of evil and yet, they had never been investigated by the ICC for crimes against humanity.

Erasure of history was obvious when Samantha Powers, reflecting the US position, did not acknowledge what the peoples of the Middle East already know: that the US gave the green light for its regional allies to use Islamist Jihadist, including al-Qaeda, to put an end to the Syrian regime. The notion that the Syrian regime’s refusal to arrive at an agreement with the «democratic” opposition, eventually led to the radicalization of the opposition and the introduction of al-Qaeda and its affiliates into the Syrian war, is simply ludicrous. This Western repeated mantra does not hold water with the peoples of the Middle East. The introduction of tens of thousands of foreign Jihadist into Syria required logistical support and funding from US regional allies. Hillary Clinton, the then US Secretary of State, herself, had urged the armed opposition not to lay down their arms or negotiate with the Syrian regime. The US-supported «democratic” opposition has been exposed as nothing but a bunch of collaborators with the Israeli enemy. In Geneva II, for example, the US has dismissed the real democratic opposition to the Syrian regime in favor of a bunch of corrupt collaborators led by al-Jarba, a non descript pawn of Saudi intelligence. Unlike the popular opposition represented by the Coordinating Committees that command presence across Syria, those US-supported collaborators hardly represent anyone on the ground.

So what was the significance of introducing the UNSC Resolution at this political juncture? What was the French-US strategy in this regard? The French have said that it was important for the West to «expose” the Russian (and Chinese) position regarding Syria. The French boasted that over 65 countries and almost all of the NGOs (world wide?) were on their side. Therefore, it was necessary to isolate the Russians and Chinese internationally and expose to the world their moral bankruptcy.

Such discourse, however, does not make much difference in the world of diplomacy and strategic rivalry. It simply remains in the confines of the circle of states that already support the US and French position. Those states do not constitute the entire international Community. The BRICS countries alone are more populous than the pro-US «international community” and represent vibrant economies insofar as the crisis-ridden capitalist economies go.

The reason for the recent move in the UNSC has to do with overall US (and French) strategic goals: it is part of a strategy to weaken the Russian economy through sanctions and (1) keep the diplomatic initiative in the hands of the West while depleting Russian diplomatic resources to the fullest extent possible to ease the pressure on the Ukrainian government in the run up for the elections; and (2) decrease Russian developing diplomatic capability in Egypt and other countries in the Middle East. But such Western attempts have backfired: while the Russians have received a serious setback in the Ukraine, they quickly moved to control the damage as evidenced by the secession of Crimea and the troubles in Eastern Ukraine. Furthermore, the Russian-Chinese gas deal, which US propaganda has begun to trash, is critical not only in terms of direct economic benefit once it comes on line in 2018 as expected, but more importantly is the migration of Russia away from its complete dependency on Western Europe for energy exports.

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