x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 24 January 2018

US puts its own interests ahead of the Syrian people

The US, once a moral power in the world, has sold out the Syrian people to protect its own interests, an Arabic observer writes. Other subjects today: tumult in Egypt and Malala's Nobel hopes.

The US has abandoned its ethical duty towards Syria’s people, to protect its regional interests

On Monday, US secretary of state John Kerry praised the Syrian government and said he was “very pleased” at reports that the process of destroying Syria’s chemical weapons arsenal has begun.

Mr Kerry went on to give credit to President Bashar Al Assad for complying with the international decision on the weapons.

Abdullah Iskandar, the managing editor of the pan-Arab daily Al Hayat, found this appalling, writing in the newspaper: “The only thing missing was for him to promise [the Assad regime] that he would send some military aircraft in compensation for those that were shot down by opposition forces.”

Mr Kerry’s statements were made at a joint press conference with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov, who is still insisting that it was the opposition that used chemical weapons in Syria, and not the regime.

“Regardless of US intentions, Mr Kerry has failed the Syrian ethical test twice: once when he deemed it acceptable to condone genocide by a chemical agent and again when he insinuated that it is acceptable to kill civilians by other means,” he added.

The way the international community is dealing with the use of chemical weapons in the Ghouta massacres near Damascus last August isn’t restricted to Syria. The fact is that a precedent has been set whereby the world has condoned the use of chemical agents in a conflict.

Henceforth, it will be difficult to enforce in other areas of the world the international laws that have been overlooked in Syria.

The US-Russian agreement over the elimination of the Syria’s chemical weapons arsenal includes consent to an expected political solution at the second Geneva conference in November.

As a preamble to this solution, the US would overlook accountability for the use of chemical weapons. The proposal also ensures that those within the Assad regime, including perhaps those who gave the orders for the use of chemical agents, would be part of the negotiations and the anticipated accord in Geneva.

“This would fulfil all Russian requirements and therefore secure the long-awaited solution for the Syrian war in a way that responds to the intersecting regional interests of Russia and Iran,” the writer noted.

The US administration is supposed to be a beacon of democracy and human rights and the political and ethical sentinel of the free world.

But in the name of peacekeeping, it is falling short of prosecuting the killers in Syria.

To protect some of its interests, the Obama administration made costly concessions to Russia and Iran.

“The administration let go of the spirit that triumphed over Nazism and dictatorship and has turned a blind eye to the Syrian people’s struggle for freedom and democracy,” the writer concluded.

Who really benefits from chaos in Egypt?

Was it necessary for Egypt’s ceremonies celebrating the October War to be tainted with the blood of 53 Egyptians killed and 271 injured, only because the Muslim Brotherhood still aspires to return to power? So asked columnist Rajeh Al Khoury in the Lebanese daily Annahar.

More importantly, the writer went on, who benefits from trying to revive the failed authority of the former Islamist president, Mohammed Morsi, and inciting civil strife in Egypt, which could inflame the entire region?

“These are legitimate questions now that a road map has been agreed upon for a return to democracy,” he said, and now that the Brotherhood has opted for violence and sabotage as a way to reclaim authority.

“The US intelligence apparatus seemed adamant in trying to make the Brotherhood’s term in power successful starting they took office,” the writer observed. “And when they fell, the US seemed more horrified than the Brotherhood themselves were.”

It is interesting in this context that the former chairman of the US military joint chiefs of staff, General Henry Hugh Shelton, told Fox News recently that the US has had plans for the past two years to destabilise Egypt and Bahrain. He also said that General Abdel El Sisi and King Hamad of Bahrain foiled the conspiracy that aimed to bring chaos to the GCC in a way that allows large oil companies to control the Gulf’s resources.

Nobel for Malala would mean a better future

The 2013 recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize will be named today. Widespread speculation suggests that the award will go to 16-year old Pakistani student Malala Yousufzai, and if that happens it will signal the beginning of a new future, columnist Bakir Awaida wrote in the London-based daily Asharq Al Awsat.

Malala became a global symbol of education for girls when she survived an assassination attempt. The Pakistani Taliban tried to kill her because she had defied them and insisted that girls have a right to education.

Malala’s attempted murder is not a single unprecedented crime. The Islamic world abounds with female victims of so-called crimes of honour and oppressive practices that aim to subjugate women.

But, despite widespread tyranny, Arab and Islamic history and daily modern life are full of examples of brilliant women who achieved admirable success.

“This is precisely what these backward powers are trying to delete from the minds of the new generation in their attempt to paralyse thought and creativity,” the writer opined.

The future is promising for women. Whether or not Malala is awarded the Nobel Peace Prize today, her nomination is in itself a triumph of what she represents: the future.

* Digest compiled by Racha Makarem