Since the Second World War, every US president has played some sort of a double game in the Middle East. President Donald Trump has already ordered an attack in Yemen, which resulted in slaughtering innocent people, bombed Mosul and Aleppo, effectively killing scores of civilians, despite promises during his presidential campaign that he won’t be starting any new wars. He also passed laws to prevent Syrian refugees from entering the US and is also deporting immigrants. Hence, Trump’s claim of bombing Syria owing to the images of Syrian children that moved him fails the sniff test. “When you kill innocent children, innocent babies — babies, little babies — with a chemical gas that is so lethal,” Trump said, “that crosses many, many lines, beyond a red line. Many, many lines.” The man is either bipolar, ignorant or willfully hypocritical since the US just dropped a bomb that indiscriminately killed people in about a square mile of earth. His emotions seem to be just fine with continuing to partner with a nation that bombs families during funeral processions in Yemen.
Over the years, both US political parties have helped the president expand his military authority. Donald Trump has the ability to carry out drone strikes, listen in on phone conversations and invade anywhere in the world without any real checks and balances within the US government. The laws are consistently changed or some fancy jargon is cooked-up to bend laws that cannot be changed. Obama was famous for keeping his interpretation of the Patriot Act confidential for years to secretly collect data on millions overseas and at home. Unfortunately, for Americans and the rest of the world, this almighty altar has now been passed onto a narcissist with a predisposition of a child.
Around 500,000 people have died in the Syrian civil war through shootings, rocket attacks, air raids, chemical strikes, torture and the US air campaign against ISIS. Yet, the hundreds killed by chemical weapons are the only ones that invoke an international response. Yes, chemical weapons are brutal but so are mortar shells and drone strikes. Also, as was widely reported, didn’t the Obama administration work with Russia and other international agencies to destroy Syria’s chemical weapons in 2014? These are relevant questions, especially when US military intervention anywhere in the world is always sold as an action taken out of love and concern for freedom and justice. More often than not, US intervention resorts to bombing. Rather than ushering peace and prosperity, this policy creates more threats than it eliminates.
The past few years have proven that the Syrian people have no friends, Western or Arab. Trump’s administration has not offered any plans for Syria beyond the latest bombs. The US is arming the opposition at the same time when the US ambassador to UN, Nikki Haley, stated that they are not focused on overthrowing President Bashar al Assad. This appears to signal that the status quo is desirable since the Syrian opposition is unlikely to accept any deal which will leave Assad in place. The real story is that this war is being fought between the US, Saudi Arabia and Turkey on one side against Russia and Iran on the other. Just like Afghanistan this has also created a serious humanitarian crisis. The Syrian war has created three million refugees who lack the neighbouring harbour that Pakistan offered Afghan refugees. Syrian refugees are spread across Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, Egypt and Europe. The world powers are seeing a direct impact of the Middle East aggression show up in Western countries in a form other than terrorism. If only for their own well-being, they would be wise to rethink their approach in keeping the region destabilised and commit to help the victims of this conflict.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 17th, 2017.
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