Russia’s diplomatic efforts to avert a potential international conflagration over Syria are to be lauded. But it would be preferable if Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and others in Moscow refrained from referring to US officials as “our American partners.”
Washington is not a “partner” or “colleague” to anyone who is serious about upholding international law and peace. Its behavior is that of an outlaw state that needs to be faced down, not pandered to.
Ironically, Washington says that the world needs to take a tough stance towards President Bashar al-Assad of Syria, otherwise other alleged tyrants will be emboldened. The truth is that the world needs to take a tough stand on Washington to curb its predatory aggression that seems to know no bounds.
Lavrov and his American counterpart John Kerry are currently holding talks in Geneva in a bid to come up with a credible formula by which the Syrian government can hand over its stockpile of chemical weapons.
The proposal that Syria submits these weapons to international control was formally announced at the start of the week by Russia’s top diplomat.
It was greeted enthusiastically by the Syrian government, which within days signed up to the international Chemical Weapons Convention banning such munitions. US President Barack Obama also made a surprise swerve from his war agenda, disclosing in a televised nation-wide address that he would explore the Russian initiative.
This development appears to provide a welcome diplomatic alternative to the drive for war that the United States has been pushing. The US threat of military action against Syria escalated dramatically since 21 August following an alleged chemical weapons attack near the Syrian capital, Damascus, in which it appears that several hundred people were killed.
With US warships toting more than 200 cruise missiles mobilized in the East Mediterranean and plans to deploy long-range B-52, B-1 and B-2 fighter bombers, the world was watching the makings of a catastrophic collision, given that any such attack on Syria would inevitably draw in other antagonists, including nuclear-powered Israel and Russia, as well as Iran and America’s allies Britain, France and the Persian Gulf monarchies.
Hence, there was palpable international relief when Russia proffered the gambit for Syria to decommission its arsenal of chemical weapons.
The plan, in principle, has been endorsed by European governments, China and Iran, and the United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon.
However, the chemical solution, so to speak, is being framed in a manner that does not bode well. It is incumbent on Russia and others to ensure that the US and its allies do not abuse the initiative to create just another lever for their criminal agenda of regime change against the Syrian government.
At the opening of the Geneva meeting on Thursday between Lavrov and Kerry, the American diplomat displayed his usual arrogance by asserting in the joint press conference that “the Syrian regime” was guilty of using chemical weapons. Kerry also said that the US reserved the right to use military force if Damascus does not deliver on commitments to disarm these munitions.
This high-handed attitude from Kerry flies in the face of the facts that the perpetrators of the latest chemical weapon attack near Damascus were the Western-backed militants. Russia’s Lavrov should have abruptly struck down this American arrogance and calumny.
Disturbingly, the Russian diplomat showed too much humor and camaraderie in the face of outrageous American criminality.
The Americans and their Western allies have not presented a scintilla of credible evidence to support provocative claims that the Assad government used chemical weapons. Western claims are negated by Syrian government denials, and by official Russian reports that it was the so-called rebels who committed this and previous chemical weapons crimes, in a blatant effort to trigger the very kind of military intervention that Washington is threatening.
Several other sources refute Western assertions, such as admission by the militant groups themselves, and testimony from recently released European journalists who say their militant captives acknowledged responsibility for the attack.
The release of classified US army files also show that Washington knew that the mercenary groups were in possession of the deadly nerve agent sarin. The latter disclosure supports other evidence that the US and its allies colluded in the atrocity on 21 August, which they have audaciously blamed on the Syrian government.
On the basis of fabrication and lies, Washington dispatched an armada of warships in order to point a gun at the head of the Syrian people.
Moreover, the Obama White House threatened that it would attack Syria unilaterally regardless of the United Nations Security Council. As Russian President Vladimir Putin, among others, noted, such action amounts to the crime of aggression. Even without firing a single cruise missile, the mere threats that Washington has issued and continues to issue constitute a crime of aggression.
Syrian President Assad is entirely correct therefore to insist that his country’s disarmament of chemical weapons must be on condition that the US drops its unlawful military threat immediately.
Furthermore, any proposal to remove Syrian government chemical munitions must be part of a multi-lateral process.
Some of the other urgent factors that need to be addressed include Western stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction that are threatening peace and stability in the Middle East, principally those of Israel, which is why Syria has historically acquired its arsenal.
Another essential part of a multilateral process is for the US and its allies to halt immediately the supply of weapons and mercenaries into Syria. This criminal covert destabilization has been going on for more than two and half years and is the primary reason why the country is ensnared in a conflict that has resulted in 100,000 deaths and up to seven million refugees out of a population of only 22 million.
Washington’s state terrorism is central to the problem in Syria, including the use of chemical weapons by foreign-backed mercenaries. The US is in no moral or legal position to lay down demands on the Syrian government over its compliance with the Chemical Weapons Convention.
Syria’s ally Russia needs to adopt a more militant attitude towards the US and its Western co-conspirators. The US is not a colleague or partner. It is a criminal party that should feel the full force of international law.
Pretending otherwise is only pandering to Washington’s state terrorism, and instead of finding a chemical solution to the Syrian crisis, the very real danger is that we are only postponing American aggression.
Finian Cunningham, originally from Belfast, Ireland, was born in 1963. He is a prominent expert in international affairs. The author and media commentator was expelled from Bahrain in June 2011 for his critical journalism in which he highlighted human rights violations by the Western-backed regime. He is a Master’s graduate in Agricultural Chemistry and worked as a scientific editor for the Royal Society of Chemistry, Cambridge, England, before pursuing a career in journalism. He co-hosts a weekly current affairs programme, Sunday at 3pm GMT on Bandung Radio.