By Tarek Fatah
October 15, 2013
For the half a million people around the globe who had signed petitions urging their country’s parliamentarians to nominate Malala Yousafzai for the 2013 Nobel Peace Prize, Friday morning brought deep disappointment.
The possibility the Nobel Committee would overlook the Pakistani teenager and instead choose another worthy nominee was always there.
However, the fact the wise men of Oslo rewarded failure instead of Malala was particularly insulting to many.
American author Dr. Zuhdi Jasser summed it up best. He called the decision of the Nobel Committee to award the Nobel Peace Prize to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) a “cruel joke on the Syrian people.” Dr. Jasser is an American of Syrian ancestry and has been in the forefront of the Syrian opposition to the Assad regime.
Until the announcement by the Nobel Committee, few people had heard of the OPCW. Not that we were unaware of the Syrian regime’s possession of chemical weapons.
In fact, the OPCW’s record of its own efforts to highlight Syria’s chemical weapons and disarm the regime was one of total failure. Never once did the OPCW initiate a campaign against Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad.
Had the Russians not intervened and forced Damascus to hand over its chemical weapons arsenal to the UN, there is no way we would be seeing the OPCW in action today, let alone honoured with a Nobel Peace Prize, instead of the courageous Pakistani teenager who stood up to terrorism and survived a bullet to her head.
If it was the elimination of Syria’s chemical weapons that decided the fate of the 2013 Nobel Peace Prize, then the rightful winner should have been Russian President Vladimir Putin (as ugly as the thought may be), for it was he who made it possible for the UN to start destroying Syria’s chemical arsenal, not the OPCW.
The Nobel Committee had already received a nomination to that effect. A Russian advocacy group had nominated Putin for the Nobel because, it said, he “actively promotes settlement of all conflicts arising on the planet.”
What is particularly odd about the awarding of this year’s Nobel Peace Prize is the fact nominations for the award closed February 1, 2013, long before OPCW inspectors entered Syria. (The Nobel committee said it was honouring the organization for the sum total of its work.) As if on cue, a day before the group was honoured with the Nobel, OPCW Director General Ahmet Uzumcu was trumpeting his organization’s success in Syria, while effectively praising the Assad regime.
He asserted on October 9 that Syria’s “cooperation has been quite constructive, and I will say that the Syrian authorities have been cooperative.”
Among those nominated for the 2013 Nobel Peace Prize was Denis Mukwege, a doctor who has treated thousands of women gang-raped and tortured during the civil war in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Had Dr. Mukwege won the Nobel, the fans of Malala Yousafzai would have most certainly said he was a worthy recipient.
However, with the Nobel Committee in Oslo overlooking this brave teenager in favour of the OPCW, can ordinary people around the globe be blamed for believing the Nobel Peace Prize is nothing more than one more tool of propaganda?