Thursday, 22 August 2013

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Special Dispatch|5418| August 22, 2013

Following Reports On Chemical Attack In Syria, Articles In Arab Press Blame International Community, U.S. For The Massacre

Following reports that over 1,000 people, most of them women and children, died in an August 21, 2013 chemical attack by the Syrian regime in the Al-Ghouta region near Damascus, heads of the Syrian opposition placed the blame for the attack on the international community and especially on the U.S., who, they said, have failed to confront the Assad regime for over two years. George Sabra, president of the Syrian National Council and a senior official in the Syrian National Coalition, an umbrella organization of the Syrian opposition, said: "It's not just the regime that is killing us and our children. It's America's hesitancy that is killing us. It's the silence of our friends that is killing us. It's being abandoned by the international community that is killing us. It's the indifference of the Arabs and Muslims that is killing us..."[1] A letter sent by the Syrian National Coalition to the U.N. Security Council said: "The Security Council's failure to discharge its responsibility regarding the situation in Syria places the usefulness of this [body] in question... and threatens what is left of its legitimacy..."[2]
Articles published today (August 22, 2013) in the Arab press, and especially in the Saudi and Qatari press, likewise held the international community and the U.S. responsible for the massacre. Especially noteworthy are two articles. The editorial of the London-based daily Al-Quds Al-Arabistated that it was the inaction of the international community in the past two years that had led to the massacre. Tariq Al-Homayed, a columnist and former editor in the London-based Saudi daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, wrote, in a similar vein, that the massacre resulted from the absence of a clear American policy in the Middle East.
The following are excerpts from the two articles.
Victims of the Al-Gouta massacre (image:, August 22, 2013)   

Al-Quds Al-Arabi: It Is The International Community That Committed The Massacre

Al-Quds Al-Arabi claimed in its editorial that the international community's silence over the past two years was the real cause of the massacre in Syria: "The pictures and sights of women and children [killed in] the massacre in Rif Damashq [province], which claimed hundreds of victims, were horrifying. At dawn yesterday [August 21, 2013], Syrian regime forces committed a horrifying and unprecedented massacre when they shelled the [region] of western and eastern Al-Ghouta [in Rif Dimashq province]. Footage broadcast on the satellite channels and on YouTube showed the bodies of children and infants, as well as pictures of children in a state of fainting or asphyxiation... The fact that this massacre was carried out while an international inspection team[3] was staying [only] a few kilometers away is cause for bewilderment...
"In committing this massacre, the Assad regime provoked the international community and defied the American administration, which [had previously claimed] that the use of chemical weapons would constitute a red line. [The Assad regime] responded [to this] by telling the world that it would be the one to decide the lines and their color and that it would do as it pleased.
"Last evening, hours after the massacre was committed, the UN Security Council assented to requests by a number of parties and convened an emergency session. However, given the horror provoked by the sights of the [events] in Ghouta, is it [really] important whether the UNSC convened or not? Is it [genuinely] important whether the UNSC expressed its astonishment and condemned or expressed grave concern [about the massacre]? [For] this will have no impact, as long as the UNSC contents itself with flowery pronouncements and does not invoke Chapter 7 [of the UN Charter][4]...
"This horrifying massacre, which resulted in the death of more than 1,000 people, half of them women and children, who were killed in their sleep – was [actually] committed by the international community via the hands of the Bashar Al-Assad regime. [The international community's] silence, and [the fact that] it was content with publishing announcements over the past two years, are the true causes of this outcome." [5]

Tariq Al-Homayed: It Was America's Muddled Policy In The Region That Encouraged Assad To Perpetrate The Massacre

In a similar vein, Tariq Al-Homayed, the former editor of the London-based Saudi daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, wrote that it was America's failed policy in the Middle East, especially in Syria and Egypt, that had encouraged Assad to perpetrate the massacre in Al-Ghouta. Assad's strength, he said, stemmed from Obama's weakness.
He wrote: "Had it not been for Obama's muddled policy in the region – and Egypt is the latest [example of it] – Assad would not have dared to continue his crimes, like the crime of yesterday's massacre in eastern Al-Ghouta, in which a terrifying number of Syrians died, most of them women and children (and the numbers are still rising). Obama's position on the Egyptian crisis gave Assad a clear indication that he could continue [evading responsibility]. Washington's position [on the events] in Egypt indicates one of two things: Either it wants to avoid [intervening in] the Syrian crisis by [intervening in] the Egyptian issue [instead], or else it has no idea whatsoever how to deal with the events and it is unable to take any strategic position on the imminent collapse of the region... Assad, with the reasoning of a mafia don, assessed [the extent of] Washington's incompetence [in dealing with the events], and understood that he could take advantage of the discrepancy between the positions of [the various Arab], regional and international parties [concerning Egypt] – a discrepancy that exists because of the muddled American [policy]... That is why he committed his heinous crime yesterday..."
Al-Homayed also attacked the U.S., without naming it explicitly, for its failure to support the popular revolutions in Egypt and Syria, and hinted that it is supporting terrorism in these countries: "...The heinous crime that [Assad] committed against women and children [yesterday] reminds us of the wisdom of [Saudi] King 'Abdallah bin 'Abd Al-'Aziz, who, in his historic [August 16, 2013] speech, warned those who were interfering in the affairs of Egypt [hinting at the U.S. and the West] that they were 'supporting the terrorism they were claiming to fight.' Indeed, that is what is happening right now in Syria, and this is what happened in Egypt! Those who thwart the Egyptian state by supporting a Fascist group [i.e., the Muslim Brotherhood] are supporting terrorism, especially when they ignore [the fact] that 30 million Egyptians came out against the Muslim Brotherhood. Those who ignored the Syrian revolution – which was initially non-violent despite Assad's violence – and continued to ignore it for two years even after 100,000 people were killed and [despite] the interference of Iran and Hizbullah [on Assad's behalf], are likewise supporting terrorism...
"The truth is that it is not surprising that Assad continues to commit his crimes against Syria and the Syrians, for Assad's strength stems from Obama's weakness."[6]      

[1] Al-Quds Al-Arabi (London) , August 21, 2013.
[2], August 21, 2013.
[3] At the start of the week, a team of U.N. inspectors arrived in Damascus to investigate claims that chemical weapons had been used in some of the country's regions.
[4] Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter allows the U.N. Security Council to "determine the existence of any threat to the peace, breach of the peace, or act of aggression" and to take military and nonmilitary action to "restore international peace and security".
[5] Al-Quds Al-Arabi (London), August 22, 2013.
[6] Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), August 22, 2013.