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Syria: West’s scapegoat for Iran

Published Aug 30, 2013 07:26am


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"We should have been traumatised into action by this war in 2011. And 2012. But now? Why?" -Photo by AP
"We should have been traumatised into action by this war in 2011. And 2012. But now? Why?" -Photo by AP

Before the stupidest Western war in the history of the modern world begins — I am, of course, referring to the attack on Syria that we all now have to swallow — it might be as well to say that the cruise missiles which we confidently expect to sweep on to one of mankind’s oldest cities have absolutely nothing to do with Syria. They are intended to harm Iran. They are intended to strike at Tehran now that it has a new and vibrant president — as opposed to the crackpot Mahmoud Ahmadinejad — and when it just might be a little more stable.

Iran is Israel’s enemy. Iran is therefore, naturally, America’s enemy. So fire the missiles at Iran’s only Arab ally.

There is nothing pleasant about the regime in Damascus. Nor do these comments let the regime off the hook when it comes to mass gassing. But I am old enough to remember that when Iraq — then America’s ally — used gas against the Kurds of Hallabjah in 1988, we did not assault Baghdad. Indeed, that attack would have to wait until 2003, when Saddam no longer had any gas or any of the other weapons we had nightmares over.

And I also happen to remember that the CIA put it about in 1988 that Iran was responsible for the Hallabjah gassings, a palpable lie that focused on America’s enemy whom Saddam was then fighting on our behalf. And thousands — not hundreds — died in Hallabjah. But there you go. Different days, different standards.

And I suppose it’s worth noting that when Israel killed up to 17,000 men, women and children in Lebanon in 1982, in an invasion supposedly provoked by the attempted PLO murder of the Israeli ambassador in London — it was Saddam’s mate Abu Nidal who arranged the killing, not the PLO, but that doesn’t matter now — America merely called for both sides to exercise “restraint”. And when, a few months before that invasion, Hafez al Assad — father of Bashar — sent his brother up to Hama to wipe out thousands of Muslim Brotherhood rebels, nobody muttered a word of condemnation. “Hama Rules”, is how my old mate Tom Friedman cynically styled this bloodbath.

Anyway, there’s a different Brotherhood around these days — and Obama couldn’t even bring himself to say “boo” when their elected president got deposed.

But hold on. Didn’t Iraq — when it was “our” ally against Iran – also use gas on the Iranian army? It did. I saw the Ypres-like wounded of this foul attack by Saddam — US officers, I should add, toured the battlefield later and reported back to Washington — and we didn’t care a tinker’s curse about it. Thousands of Iranian soldiers in the 1980-88 war were poisoned to death by this vile weapon. I travelled back to Tehran overnight on a train of military wounded and actually smelled the stuff, opening the windows in the corridors to release the stench of the gas. These young men had wounds upon wounds — quite literally. They had horrible sores wherein floated even more painful sores that were close to indescribable. Yet, when the soldiers were sent to Western hospitals for treatment, we journos called these wounded — after evidence from the UN infinitely more convincing that what we’re likely to get from outside Damascus — “alleged” gas victims.

So what in heaven’s name are we doing? After countless thousands have died in Syria’s awesome tragedy, suddenly — now, after months and years of prevarication — we are getting upset about a few hundred deaths. Terrible. Unconscionable. Yes, that is true. But we should have been traumatised into action by this war in 2011. And 2012. But now? Why?

Upper Hand:

I suspect I know the reason. I think that Bashar al Assad’s ruthless army might just be winning against the rebels whom we secretly arm. With the assistance of the Hezbollah — Iran’s ally in Lebanon — the Damascus regime broke the rebels in Qusayr and may be in the process of breaking them north of Homs. Iran is ever more deeply involved in protecting the Syrian government. Thus, a victory for Bashar is a victory for Iran. And Iranian victories cannot be tolerated by the West.

And while we’re on the subject of war, what happened to those magnificent Palestinian-Israeli negotiations that John Kerry was boasting about? While we express our anguish at the hideous gassings in Syria, the land of Palestine continues to be gobbled up. Israel’s Likudist policy — to negotiate for peace until there is no Palestine left — continues apace, which is why King Abdullah of Jordan’s nightmare (a much more potent one than the “weapons of mass destruction” we dreamed up in 2003) grows larger: that “Palestine” will be in Jordan, not in Palestine.

But if we are to believe the nonsense coming out of Washington, London, Paris and the rest of the “civilised” world, it’s only a matter of time before our swift and avenging sword smiteth the Damascenes.

To observe the leadership of the rest of the Arab world applauding this destruction is perhaps the most painful historical experience for the region to endure. And the most shameful. Save for the fact that we will be attacking Shias and their allies to the handclapping of Sunnis. And that’s what civil war is made of.

By arrangement with The Independent

Comments (24) Closed

Anees Aug 30, 2013 01:21pm

Every single letter gushes out the truth - and reality.

Jawed Sheikh Aug 30, 2013 02:30pm

Jawed Sheikh: It could not have been better articulated. The silence of the Muslim World is most condemnable.

Jawed Sheikh Aug 30, 2013 02:31pm

Jawed Sheikh: Very well articulated. The silence of the Muslim World is most condemnable.

Civilian Aug 30, 2013 02:38pm

Shame on these so-called Muslim countries dictator sheikhs who try to save their rule over their kingdoms by blood-bathing innocent Muslims in other countries, whether it's Iraq, Libya, Yemen, Afghanistan, or Syria . these rulers are the Munaafiqeen.

khan Aug 30, 2013 03:42pm

actually We don't like assad and neither does the west .. letthem attack so this war can finish .. more than a hundred thousand people have died and billions of dollars in infrastructure damage.

dan Aug 30, 2013 04:15pm

I have read a lot of your articles and you always present an interesting point of view, but I would like to point out that history and nations do require leaders like mans "crackpot" an other mans "hero" read Churchill's personal life history and background he was in his own league a crackpot, Adolf in his own...but millions followed them...just a thought.

ahsan Aug 30, 2013 04:25pm

So true. Excellent article. The West has not learned any lesson from Libya. By toppling secular Asad , it will only create another extremist monster to wreak havoc in the Arab world.

Saadat Khan Aug 30, 2013 05:12pm

This article to me is a gospel of truth and a symbol of objective journalism.

Tanwir Aug 30, 2013 06:47pm

Robert Fisk is one of the conscientious journalists on the planet earth who rolls out facts and figures with history that appeals but changes the perception about this so called 'civilized world'.

Amin Aug 30, 2013 07:28pm

It is amazing because it's true. Which makes it even sadder.

We are keyboard warriors. Nothing else.

pathanoo Aug 30, 2013 08:03pm

If even the author is correct on all allegations regarding the hypocrisy of American policy of the past; is it OK to let Bashar Al Asad gas his people? In his blind hatred of America, the author is loosing his humanity. What does he suggest? The world do nothing and let the innocent men. women and children of Syria be gassed by htis murdering thug Assad? So, then later on he can blame America for not protecting the innocents for some devious reasons which I am sure he will manufacture. You can't win with these BLIND AMERICA HATERS.

pathanoo Aug 30, 2013 08:09pm

@Anees: Oh! Really? All "Every single letter gushes out" is blind hatred of America. Obviously, we overlooked the gassing of Iranians by Sadam Husain but then what would you expect us to do? Kiss the Ayatollah Khomeni? Remember that venal old men had allowed the take over of the American Embassy and imprisonment of american Diplomats for over a year. Was that not reason enough to side with your enemies enemy?

O Khan Aug 30, 2013 08:32pm

@Anees: Regarding the previous actions of US, yes all said here is true.

But what do you suggest about the current situation; let the Alawi

pir.wajeeh Aug 30, 2013 08:48pm

what should be done by un and OIC to stop the blood shed by hezbullah, iran and syria if us and other western powers dont intervene.

Chaudhary Aug 30, 2013 11:17pm

A dared article from experienced Journalist.

najeha Aug 30, 2013 11:46pm

This article is the true depiction of USA's biased approach when it comes to policing the rest of the world. This is to me just another attempt by the wertern world, after Iraq and Egypt, to spread choas in Middle East, there by breaking its might, spreading disunity, and reducing it to shackles from which it will take decades recover.

Farhan Aug 31, 2013 01:10am

Another important incident is the use of chemical weapon in Vietnam by the US by the name Agent Orange. Even after 3 generations there are genetic impacts on the new born babies in that area. And now the US have a sudden surge of moral responsibility. Ironic.

Shahpur Aug 31, 2013 01:58am

Excellent Statement Of Facts.

Ben Aug 31, 2013 02:32am

The war is not the solution at all .... It will result in regional instability and can cause its consequences to global level to other allies of Muslim brotherhood. If they are after Syria today, next will be you.

Ali Aug 31, 2013 06:07am

The author while well versed in history is almost criminally negligent in minimizing the suffering of the women & children suffering such a tragedy in Syria. It was & is never acceptable to use these heinous chemical weapons against anyone especially innocent civilians. The author's conclusion that west wants to defeat Iran by proxy may hold ground except Iran is not using its influence to save the innocents being tortured in Syria. Iran is not asking the dictator Assad to step down or stop using these weapons against his own people. Iran should have been on the forefront of those speaking against use of such weapons, having seen their own people suffer from them. It is sad that as Muslims we do not have a unified voice to object to wrong doing of someone from amongst ourselves.

Cara Aug 31, 2013 10:57am

We cannot ignore the death of 100000 people and apart from few muslim countries rest of the world is quite long time the time has come to take action against the crime and bring the people to justice. Asad is so called god who does not obey him get killed . There is. A great difference between Obama and bush . It's difficult for America to take action because of seriousness of the conflict but you have to draw a line somewhere.

CiPher Aug 31, 2013 04:49pm

An excellent unbiased analysis.

Why not to attack nearby Egypt too, where army swallowed more then 1000 human beings.. Why the HUSH on that issue ..!!

just curious Sep 01, 2013 12:28am

"Nor do these comments let the regime off the hook when it comes to mass gassing." But where's the evidence that it was indeeed Assad's regime who gassed the people there? @ Pathanoo: But where's the evidence?

TI Sep 01, 2013 03:23am

The author forgot to mention that it was US who came to save Bosnians and Kosovars when Serbian were buturing them. Criticize US when it matters, however, give them credit when needed. Now, 100,000 people have been killed by Asad family and it must be stopped. Asad father was a buture also. He killed around 30,000 back in 80s. Did any Muslim country say anything? Blind hatered towards US is not helpful. Stop being so cynical!