We have just seen what has been done to Libya in the name of human rights and the ‘responsibility to protect’. Uncounted thousands of Libyans were killed in eight months of bombing and missile attacks by French, British and American warplanes. There is prima facie evidence that war crimes were committed but there is not even the suggestion that someone will be held accountable. Further back stands Iraq, invaded in 1991 and then subjected to a decade of sanctions which ended the lives of about one million Iraqis, including hundreds of thousands of children. The second war launched in 2003 brought the overall civilian death toll since 1991 to somewhere between 1.5 and two million Iraqis. Again, prime facie evidence of war crimes and crimes against humanity without any of the perpetrators being punished. The kind of lies told before the attacks of 1991 (babies being thrown out of their incubators in Kuwait) and 2003 (weapons of mass destruction) were duplicated in the propaganda war which preceded the aerial assault on Libya this year (mass killing and Viagra-fuelled rape).
To their eternal shame, the Arab League and governments which sell themselves on their Muslim credentials took part in or came in behind this war on a Muslim country by three non-Muslim governments. Now a third Arab country is being laid out on the chopping board, not in North Africa but at the very heart of the Middle East. The US, France, Britain and their Arab allies can sense that a momentous victory is at hand and they are pushing as hard as they can, using every weapon at their disposal. At the end of the road lies the possibility of armed intervention through the declaration of a ‘no fly’ zone and a cross-border operation to establish a ‘buffer zone’ or what the French Foreign Minister, Alain Juppé, prefers to call a ‘humanitarian corridor’. These are propaganda phrases, of course. What the advocates of intervention are talking about is war and everything it entails – widespread destruction and the death of thousands of people.
Reconstructed Syria’s future is already being written. A leading figure in the Syrian National Council, Burhan Ghaliun, has said that a new government would break relations with Iran and would overturn the present strategic relationship with Hizbullah. The connections of other members of this council with the Gulf States, the US State Department and Israel’s lobbyists in Washington are further evidence of how Syria is to be remolded if the present government can be brought down. Short of the toppling of the Islamic government in Iran, it would be hard to think of a greater triumph for ‘the West’ and its reactionary allies across the Middle East, not to mention the benefits for Israel. Are those Arabs joining the chorus against the Syrian government in the name of human rights even thinking about this?