By Abdulrahman al-Rashed
10 April 2018
This is not the first or second or even tenth time that chemical attacks target people in Syria and suffocate them like insects.
The life of thousands of Syrians may be of no value for those who are indifferent towards what’s happening; however, the entire world is in danger due to these precedents which have become familiar and acceptable due to keeping silent and not holding criminals accountable. Silence over what the three regimes are doing in Syria will make all of the region’s cities an open arena for murder using chemical gases as wars expand and given the world’s cold reaction to using them.
Mass murder against Syrian civilians has been ongoing for four years now. The first time we heard of it was on March 19, 2013 in Aleppo’s suburbs. It was followed by another chemical attack on April 29 in Saraqeb and by another on August 21 in Ghouta. Three days later, Jobar was attacked and a day later, on August 25, a chemical attack also targeted Sahnaya. All these consecutive attacks were carried out in the same year. No one was held accountable although these attacks were many. The Syrian regime continued to deny these attacks were chemical in nature despite the mounting evidence and it kept saying it was a mere media charade and an exaggeration of events. The Syrian opposition, in cooperation with the UN, had to transfer a body of someone who was killed by Sarin gas to examine it and run tests thus proving that a prohibited nerve agent was used.
Three Criminal Regimes
The problem is not about the availability of evidence as there is many, and it’s not about the three criminal regimes. The problem is in the international community and its institutions which, in alarming manner, ignore crimes that are usually viewed as an attack against them and as a threat to the human race. The three regime’s boldness, i.e. the Syrian, Iranian and Russian, to use chemical weapons against civilians in Syria and keeping silent over these practices encourage governments and organizations to resort to chemical weapons because they are cheap, easy to use and efficient and they achieve the aim of psychologically terrifying people.
Let’s compare between this and the reaction to the attempt to assassinate the Russian agent in Britain and which was only carried out as a result of underestimation and submissiveness. This was not the first time this happens but no one was held accountable for the crimes which preceded this recent incident. For example, a Russian man died while jogging in 2012 and the case was closed although there were suspicions he was poisoned.
The recent incident in Britain about a month ago targeted a Russian double agent and his daughter who both fell ill following a mysterious attack which is believed to be a nerve-agent attack. Britain deemed this a dangerous attack on its soil and expelled a large number of Russian diplomats and said it will boycott this year’s World Cup in Russia. The British measures alone did not have enough weight and Moscow mocked them; however, several countries stood in solidarity with Britain, imposed sanctions on Russia and expelled a large number of diplomats too. We haven’t witnessed such reactions since the Cold War. Moscow now wants dialogue because it sensed the gravity of what happened and of what was attributed to it, whether it is in fact involved or innocent.
Like the Syrian regime, Iran does not mind sacrificing its citizens and does not hesitate to carry out mass murder against those it is hostile towards. Like Iran, it will not hesitate to resort to its chemical weapons to kill thousands of people everywhere it fights. Wars are ever-increasing and tools of mass murder and mass destruction no longer know any boundaries.
Abdulrahman al-Rashed is the former General Manager of Al Arabiya News Channel. A veteran and internationally acclaimed journalist, he is a former editor-in-chief of the London-based leading Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat, where he still regularly writes a political column. He has also served as the editor of Asharq al-Awsat’s sister publication, al-Majalla. Throughout his career, Rashed has interviewed several world leaders, with his articles garnering worldwide recognition, and he has successfully led Al Arabiya to the highly regarded, thriving and influential position it is in today.