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  • Dec 22, 2014
  • Updated: 7:57pm
CommentInsight & Opinion
LEADER

International action against Syria hinges on inspections

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 28 August, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 28 August, 2013, 3:20am

Syria's civil war has wrought a heavy toll, with more than 100,000 people killed, two million made refugees and a quarter of the country's 23 million population displaced. That has not been enough for the international community to act decisively, the experience of Iraq hanging heavily over decision-making. But matters would be different were chemical weapons to have been used by either the government or rebel side. UN inspectors, therefore, have to be given every support in determining what happened in the eastern Damascus district of Ghouta last Wednesday and their findings considered judiciously.

Evidence would seem to point to a chemical strike of significant proportions on residents, who are largely supportive of the rebels. The government denies such an attack, although it is suspected of having stockpiles of mustard gas and sarin nerve agent. A harrowing video released by the opposition shows rows of bodies, people struggling for breath and paramedics trying to save the lives of infants. Medecins Sans Frontieres said at the weekend three hospitals it supports had treated 3,600 patients with symptoms of neurotoxins, of whom 355 had died.

UN chemical weapons inspectors were in Damascus just 15 minutes away at the time of the claimed attack. They had been given approval to visit three other places where incidents were said to have occurred. It took Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's government five days to give the green light for the team to inspect the site. That, contends the US, is too little, too late and has given time for "significant corruption" of the evidence.

Chemical weapons are banned by international agreement, although Syria is not party to the treaty. But that does not mean the world can stand idly by if an atrocity has taken place. There are limits to how a government can treat its people; the same internationally accepted standards apply between groups within a nation. The rules of war were negotiated and put in place for good reason and if they are to have any meaning, have always to be respected.

Time and care have to be taken in responding to the team's findings. If chemical weapons are conclusively proven to have been used, the world has to take action. What form that takes has to be by mutual agreement, through the UN Security Council. China and Russia, permanent members of the council and allies of Assad, have to keep their international obligations in mind. But there can be no rushed conclusions or rash decisions; mistakes of the past have to be avoided.

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This article is now closed to comments

whymak
Western democracies are the worst liars. Syrian rebels are warring with and killing one another with Al Qaeda joining the fray. Bashar al-Assad appears now to be in driver seat. Just when this atrocious civil war is winding down, why should Assad be using chemical weapons and invite attack from the US?
The US, the UK and France are getting ticked off because their Arab Sunni allies and Israel might not be able to dictate to Syria and Lebanon. Many Sunnis hate Shias even more than Israelis.
When England, France and Israel attacked Egypt in 1956, President Eisenhower ordered them to stop pronto. More than half a century later, with the US heading the Western Imperialist League of Evil, the same countries are trying to nullify the results of this civil war. Their strategy is to use air power to cripple Syria and give the rebels another shot at a new civil war that might last for 2 decades.
Ironically, there is a daily litany of complaints by Western media and governments about China violating the human rights of a handful of dissidents and subversives. Why are they so preoccupied with such insignificant violations while creating a new killing field that might yet devour hundreds of thousands of innocent lives?
henleyhk
Oh, please, Mr Editor, can we cut the crepe? The Europeans (and Americans) want to break Russia's stranglehold on the European energy market by building a gas pipeline from Qatar, which the Syrians are not allowing across their territory (presumably at the insistence of the Russians/Gazprom); so the Qatari mercenary force now operating in Syria mounted a false-flag chemical weapons attack on Syrian civilians, hoping to push NATO/the Americans over their red line. So far, so good. The objective is regime change to get the pipeline across Syria built.
Since NATO/American military intervention would be a direct attack on Russian and Iranian interests, this would become NATO vs the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) countries. The stakes are very high: a miscalculation could result in WWIII. With America clearly on the back foot politically, militarily and economically, the SCO might be prepared to risk it. Meanwhile, the US has managed to reduce bond yields without having to print any more confetti.
The plot thickens. Now somebody has decided this is the moment to publish this:
****libertyblitzkrieg.com/2013/08/26/foreign-policy-cia-documents-show-the-u-s-helped-saddam-hussein-use-chemical-weapons/
If you want to read a worthwhile editorial, go here: ****www.paulcraigroberts.org/2013/08/26/syria-another-western-war-crime-in-the-making-paul-craig-roberts/
captam
But your headline does not reflect realities.
Britain's prime minister and foreign secretary have already announced which side is to blame without even waiting for the U.N. report.
The only way they possibly know who truly used these weapons is to be in direct league with the perpetrators. This is a set up!
henleyhk
pslhk, it's true that defence of the USD lies behind much of what the US is doing; but the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) has already implemented an international trade settlement system which bypasses the USD completely, and China has entered into currency swaps with most of its major trading partners (which also means the USD will be bypassed) in preparation for convertibility of the CNY (in 2015?). The petrodollar system itself will probably not survive the death of Saudi king Abdullah sooner or later. Recently, foreigners have been selling US Treasuries at a record rate, putting further pressure on the Federal Reserve. So actually China and its allies have already done a good job of undermining the USD. The US position is actually very weak and, sooner or later (perhaps in Syria?), the SCO will administer the fatal blow.
pslhk
Democracy in America is supported by mercenaries
us gangsters employed overseas to spare inner cities from the plague
No conscription, no opposition to foreign aggressions / exploitations
which america needs to sustain the empire’s democratic development
Mercenaries defend america's mandate to print $
and ensure not only that goods are shipped to the us in exchange for $
but all international trades are transacted in $
pslhk
Thank you Foglamp for the clarification
that’s also outlined in Candy Ho’s “Gaining currency” (26aug)
the American empire is a soci-econ-politi-historical complex
“Half-truths” serve to counter biased beliefs / assertions
-
Every time there is a typhoon, I’m reminded of the irony:
fun for signal 8 hikers and tragedies for some unfortunate families
Now thunder storms again are gathering over Damascus
henleyhk
Mr Editor, this is also well worth reading:
****countdowntozerotime.com/2013/08/28/putin-orders-massive-strike-against-saudi-arabia-if-syria-attacked-russian-government-outraged-by-saudi-prince-bandar-bin-sultans-terrorist-threats-putinwho-the-hell-do-these-people-think-they-are/

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