Jumping the gun on Syria
by Stuart Littlewood
British people woke for a second morning to the chilling realisation that the US and UK were not waiting for the results of the UN’s enquiries in Syria before launching military intervention. There’s also a suggestion that the UN inspection team’s remit does not include determining blame for the chemical attack (if that’s what it was).
The BBC has also been telling the nation that there’s no legal requirement for the prime minister to consult Parliament before committing an act of war. This sounds incredible. So too does the idea being circulated that a military strike could happen without UN Security Council approval.
Furthermore, we are now hearing from the government’s media serfs on a regular basis that Syria has not signed up to the Chemical Weapons Convention, as if that settles the matter. The CWC declares that “all States Parties have agreed to chemically disarm by destroying any stockpiles of chemical weapons they may hold and any facilities which produced them, as well as any chemical weapons they abandoned on the territory of other States Parties in the past.”
But neither has Egypt and she still receives massive military aid from the US. And guess who still hasn’t ratified (i.e. formally confirmed) the treaty? Israel, showing the same contempt with which that regime treats nuclear non-proliferation.
The US is a signatory but also a major violator of the CWC while Israel won’t open its chemical weapons facilities to international inspection.
Many fingers point to Israel as the likely perpetrator of the chemical weapons atrocity. It is after all the region’s chief troublemaker. Israel illegally invaded Lebanon in 1978. Before their 1982 re-invasion the Israelis prepared the ground for war by callously manipulating their provocations and Lebanon’s responses in order to provide ‘justification’, a tactic they have also used against Hamas in Gaza. When the ‘justification’ came Israel retaliated with disproportionate air and artillery strikes against Palestinian targets in Lebanon, including the refugee camps.
The Sabra and Shatila camps near Beirut were bombed for four hours. An international commission concluded that Israel “committed acts of aggression contrary to international law”, that the government of Israel had no valid reasons for invading Lebanon, and that Israel was responsible for the killings in Sabra and Shatila. The United Nations General Assembly declared the Sabra and Shatila massacre an act of genocide.
UN Resolution 1701 required the Israeli army to withdraw behind the Blue Line and both parties to respect that boundary. It also required Israel to hand over all maps of landmines in Lebanon. However Israel still occupies the Shebaa Farms area. There is discussion as to whether this formally belongs to Syria or Lebanon. It certainly doesn’t belong to the Israelis. Nevertheless Israel repeatedly breaches 1701 by crossing the Blue Line and violating Lebanese airspace.
In Israel’s 2006 war on Lebanon, Amnesty International called on both Hezbollah and Israel to end attacks on civilian areas and identified the destruction of entire civilian neighbourhoods and villages by Israeli forces, attacks on bridges with no apparent strategic value, and attacks on infrastructure indispensable to the survival of the civilian population. They said Israeli actions suggested a “policy of punishing both the Lebanese government and the civilian population”. AI also highlighted the IDF’s use of white phosphorus shells (a crime repeated in Gaza in 2008/9), and after the ceasefire some parts of southern Lebanon were uninhabitable for a long time due to unexploded cluster bombs left lying around by Israel.
So Israel is certainly sadistic enough to be the culprit in the Damascus case.
Israel also seized the Golan Heights above the Sea of Galilee from Syria in 1967 and unilaterally annexed the area in 1981, a move that was not recognised internationally. Apart from its military value the Golan is an important rainwater catchment area. Israel desperately wants to hold onto this stolen territory.
For those who don’t know, prime minister Cameron and foreign secretary Hague are both fervent members of Conservative Friends of Israel, Hague since he was 15. Cameron is a self-declared Zionist and both have pledged undying support for Israel no matter what. Hague went so far as to arrange a change to Britain’s universal jurisdiction laws in order to provide a safe haven for Israelis suspected of war crimes and crimes against humanity.
Cameron and Hague both voted “very strongly” for the Iraq war, according to theyworkforyou.com. In other words, they both failed to exercise due diligence and establish the truth about Saddam’s supposed weapons of mass destruction before approving the almost total destruction of Iraq and the obscene slaughter that went with it. This recklessness is all the more contemptible when both were members of the opposition charged with holding the government of the day (Blair’s) to account. After such a shocking demonstration of poor judgement, Cameron and Hague and all the others who approved the Iraq war should, in my opinion, never have been allowed to hold public office again.
Yet here they are, salivating at the prospect of more mega-bloodshed. And from the sidelines Blair, who should be in chains at The Hague or preferably swinging by the neck from a lamp-post on Tower Bridge, pops up again to urge an attack on Syria.
What can British citizens do to stop this next warmongering tragedy? Parliament probably will be recalled, so it may be worth writing to tell one’s MP what’s expected of him. I did so yesterday along these lines…….
“Britain is planning to join forces with America and launch military action against Syria within days in response to the gas attack believed to have been carried out by President Bashar al-Assad’s forces against his own people…” These are the chilling headlines this lovely summer’s bank holiday.
“Gas attack BELIEVED to have been carried out…” (by Assad’s forces). No incontrovertible evidence, however, and nothing that justifies an armed response. Only a belief, no more than a hunch, when reason actually points the finger elsewhere.
Will the British people and their Parliament be consulted before fateful action is taken? I hear that Downing Street said summoning the Commons from its summer break had not been ruled out, but stressed Mr Cameron “reserved the ability to take action very swiftly if needed”, according to Sky News.
Why not wait for proof? On whose behalf are Hague and Cameron speaking, anyway? Certainly not for the British public, who have had enough of illegal and interfering wars.
The trigger-happy duo, always straining at the leash, clearly have their own agenda and scant regard for either hard facts or international law let alone the consequences. Anyone with a slightest knowledge of the Middle East and the Tory leadership’s affiliations can easily join the dots. And the picture formed is not a pretty one.
What is the Party doing, please, to rein in its dangerous loons before it’s too late?
26 August 2013
About the Author
Stuart Littlewood’s articles are published widely on the web. He is author of the book Radio Free Palestine, which tells the plight of the Palestinians under occupation. For further information please visit www.radiofreepalestine.org.uk “Lawlessness must have painful consequences for the lawless, not their victims.” He is a frequent contributor to Intifada-Palestine.com