Yesterday at least 72 people are known to have died from the Assad regime’s attack in Khan Shaykhoon, northern Syria. Doctors are a bit perplexed in terms of the exact type of gas used, however they are united that it was some type of nerve toxin.
We definitely cannot rule out that this was a Sarin attack. The patients (from the attack) are being treated with atropin which is a nerve blocker,” Syrian based British doctor Shajul Islam said.
In addition to initial estimates of those killed, more than 250 are still suffering from the effects of the gas with more than 100 still in serious condition.
Here are three things we’ve learned from this attack:
1. Mere Condemnation Means Nothing
When ISIS began it’s murderous spree back in 2014, the world was justifiably outraged. Journalists were beheaded on TV and nations around the world, particularly Muslim majority nations, were gushing at the opportunity to join in the airstrike campaign. At that time the numbers of those murdered by the terror group were in the hundreds.
Let us fast forward to yesterday’s events. Horrific images of women and children gasping for breath and unconscious victims with pin sized pupils being brought to hospitals seemed to be everywhere on the internet. World leaders from around the globe condemned the attack. Even Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, “When I saw pictures of babies suffocating from a chemical attack in Syria, I was shocked and outraged.”
Let’s look closer at these condemnations. Firstly, it is very difficult to watch women and children die on television as a result of a chemical attack and not condemn it. This is standard political operating procedure. However, noticeably missing from the equation was the unified voice that Assad must go. Assad has killed over a half million of the Syrian population (and that estimate is now more than 2 years old) and displaced another 11 million, yet the world community is still willing to tolerate Assad. US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley recently told journalists that “our priority is no longer to sit there and focus on getting Assad out.” This statement was mentioned a few times in the media but then it died down.
Looking back to 2014 when Obama was assembling his coalition in the fight against ISIS, imagine the response if any politician would have said “…our priority is no longer to sit there and focus on getting ISIS leader Abu Bakr Baghdadi out of power”. Baghdadi’s trail of dead is laughable compared to Assad’s by even the most generous of statistics.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said, “It is also clear that this horrific conflict, now in its seventh year, demands a genuine ceasefire…”. After more than a half million dead and countless chemical attacks, even as documented by the United Nations, the only conclusion that the Trump administration could come up with is that a “ceasefire” is needed? What happened to holding the perpetrators to account?
Conclusion: Don’t all lives matter? Answer: no.
2. The Mentality that Led us Here Still Exists
Many around the world blame former President Barak Obama for not following through on his famous “red line” threat that he issued to Assad after a chemical attack back in 2014. While that blame is well placed it does leave out the fact that he was of the few to even issue such a threat. It is difficult to ask Muslims to buy into the idea that 2 dead westerners equal 20,000 dead Arabs, but this seems to be what is being asked of them. The world seems to be united in fighting every kind of terrorism except for the state sponsored sort. The Rohingya Muslims of Myanmar are a persecuted and stateless people, yet that did not stop then President Barak Obama from lifting sanctions thereby opening up the doors for international companies to do business there. Obama even went so far as to praise the country’s steps towards democracy.
This clear “hear no evil, see no evil” way of politics is what gives rise to attacks like those witnessed yesterday. If there is no deterrent then why would Assad scale back his terror campaign?
Conclusion: As long as this clearly hypocritical mentality rules, there is no real hope or chance for a reduction in terrorism. Period.
3. “Assad can stay” Politicians Should be Ashamed
“The United States and our partners are not seeking so-called regime change,” then Secretary of State John Kerry said after a meeting with the Russian Foreign Minister.
So many world leaders hopped on the “Assad can stay” bandwagon under the cloak of “Syrians must decide whether he will stay or go” slogan. Translation: It’s too much trouble to force him out. Get someone else to do it.
Bear in mind that these are the same leaders that see the same day in and day out slaughter carried out by the Assad regime. One must ask a simple moral question: How is it that everyone saw that Abu Bakr Baghdadi absolutely must be brought down, yet somehow we need to have a discussion about Assad? Assad isn’t doing anything now he hasn’t been doing for the past 6 years. There is no way the world should even be asked to buy into the need for war against North Korea when butchers such as Assad are permitted to remain in power.
In addition to that, where are the sanctions for Iran’s assistance to the Assad regime? Why is Russian president Vladimir Putin still able to travel freely from one country to another? Is there any honest court that would not implicate him as an accomplice and accessory to murder?
Conclusion: Power and influence wash away a lot of blood.
If the world is truly interested in change, then justice is where it starts.