Thanks to drone filming technology, Al-Jazeera Arabic channel aired publicly, a few days ago, a news report showing the scale of destruction in Homs, as a result of the Russian aerial bombardment and the Syrian regime’s explosive barrels. The view from the air looks panoramic but horrific due to the scale of devastation. Homs, Dera’a, and other part of the Damascus outskirts once thriving towns and cities full of life and cradles of civilization are now ghost towns, deserted by most of their inhabitants.
The UN and Western powers have been witnessing for 5 years the bombardment of Syrian towns and villages by a brutal regime who is interested only in guarding its stronghold in Damascus even if the price is to destroy 80% of the population along with Syria’s infrastructure and every form of life.
What we witness nowadays is much worse than what Berlin saw in 1945. WWII came to free Germans from a dictator, while now the same powers are inept regarding probably a much worse dictator. Homs, Hama and other Syrian cities are witness to the death of the UN as an effective institution and with it seemingly has gone the human conscience of many countries.
By not actively stopping the Syrian regime from committing crimes against humanity, are the UN and the ‘civilised’ countries partners in this crime? By not averting the Russian bombardment of Syrian cities, are the UN and other Western powers complicit in the crime?
Why does the ‘civilised’ world stand idle in face of the human catastrophe that the Syrians are going through? Are they from a lower race? Is their blood cheaper than any other human blood? Or is this the mere hypocrisy of modern day world politics which values a victim over another victim because of their colour, race, or religion?
According to the Syrian Centre for Policy Research, so far about 470, 000 people have been killed, which is about 11.5% of the total population. The number of people who have fled because of the war is about 5 million i.e. 45% of the population before 2011. The number of injured may reach 2 million soon.
While this human catastrophe is taking place, the CIA Director, John Brennen, claims that Daesh is the problem to focus on because they have used chemical weapons in its attacks! (Al Jazeera.net). The same was said about Saddam Hussein! But how about the Assad regime which has been proved guilty of using illegal weapons and continually committing war crimes against Syrian civilians? It is like ignoring the big elephant in the room.
Daesh is not the root of what is occurring to people in Iraq and Syria but it is a symptom of dictatorship, corruption and a result of decades of disadvantaged communities living under brutal rule. Fighting Daesh is nothing but a lame excuse to extend war and instability in Syria and Iraq. It can also become a further excuse for an intervention in Libya or in other parts of the Arab world.
Western powers agreed in their meeting last Friday in Munich to halt attacks within one week. This does not necessarily mean a complete ceasefire. In a recent interview, Bashar Al Assad declared that he is not committed to any ceasefire, which undermines all the Munich negotiations. Russia and the USA also agreed to monitor the plan for a ceasefire!
It is obvious that most the Western powers are not interested in saving the Syrian people stranded in various towns and villages of Syria. Facilitating the passage of humanitarian aid is a basic response which is very long overdue. What the Syrian refugees need is immediate protection by ending the violence and taking to account the perpetrators. Ironically we hear that the Turkish Prime Minster confirming on Friday that the Russian Air raids are also targeting schools and hospitals.
Influential players do not seem to care about the aspirations of the Syrian people for freedom, dignity and democratic rule. The Munich agreement doesn’t talk any longer about removing a brutal regime holding onto every inch of power in the country for decades. So far the priorities of the USA foreign policy seem very much distanced from the concerns of Syrian people who yearn for a stable, democratic Syria free from the dictatorial regime of Bashar Al Assad.
To his credit, the Saudi Foreign Minister- Adel Al Joubir, announced in Germany on Friday that it is not possible to defeat Daesh without removing the Bashar regime. He also argued that the Syrian regime is the source of Daesh, and the one who supported their activities and has business deals with them.
This is supported by research done to trace oil and gas sold by Daesh controlled installations. the gas plant in Taqba, central Syria, found to be run by the HESCO company, owned by Mr George Haswani which, until recent European Union sanctions were implemented against it,had been supplying the areas that Assad’s army controlled. Other oil and gas fields in Daesh hands that were thought to be operated by personnel who remained on the payroll of the regime’s oil ministry, enabling the Regime to use oil and electricity supplies as ways to win people’s loyalty (Revealed: The Oil Middlemen between the Syrian Regime and ISIS, The Telegraph, USA, March 17th 2015).
As a side issue, a European official at an international oil company has stated that Israel has become the main marketer for Daesh oil exports to Europe, importing it through the Port of Ashdod. This is confirmed by a colonel in the Iraqi Intelligence Services who anonymously gave information to the Al Araby Al Jadeed (The New Arab) newspaper website about how Daesh smuggles each day 30 000 barrels of oil using 70 to 100 trucks, from the reserves which, since 2013, it controls in Syria and Iraq. Seventy five percent of Israeli oil comes from dubious sources, labelled as coming from Iraqi Kurdistan, but often coming from Daesh controlled wells. (Raqqa’s Rockerfellers: How Islamic State oil flows to Israel, The New Arab, November 26 2015). Without these buyers and this cooperation, Daesh would be unable to earn the 19 million dollars on average per month that fund its military operations, mostly against the other Sunni Syrian opposition groups and civilians,and not Assad’s regime according to dozens of Daesh deserters who were interviewed by The International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation and Political Violence (ICSR), who just produced a report (The defectors’ handbook to destroying The ‘Islamic State’, The Telegraph, Sunday February 14 2016).
The solution to the chaotic situation in Syria starts by dealing with the real source of the terror and his allies. The crux of the matter is the need to support the legitimate Syrian opposition which represents the Syrian people’s aspirations, and is actually fighting the regime that has caused 95% of the bloodshed and destruction in Syria (Syrian Network for Human Rights, 2015).
Unfortunately, so far and due to its flaws, the Munich plan,or lack there-of,is anticipated to further deepen the sectarian division in Syria and give the regime and the Russian army further time to implement their plan of gaining ground and establishing a new status quo.
This article was first published on The Peninsula- Qatar, on February 15 2016. Dr Noureddine Miladi is a university professor of media and communication. He can be reached via email: email@example.com.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.