Here’s the advice the downtown New York based Human Rights First are offering to Barack Obama ahead of his speech at the UN General Assembly:
‘2. The president should insist that the Security Council move quickly to pass a resolution reinforcing the diplomatic agreement on the destruction of the Assad regime’s arsenal of chemical weapons. The Council should:
– Condemn the use of chemical weapons by the Assad regime;
– Demand the turnover of the weapons to international supervision within a specified time frame and require the Syrian regime to cooperate with rigorous international inspection to ensure compliance;
– Refer the situation in Syria to the International Criminal Court so that the many war crimes and crimes against humanity perpetrated during the conflict can be investigated and those responsible brought to justice; and,
– Authorize the use of all necessary measures, including the use of force, should Syria fail to comply with the terms of the agreement’.
It’s an interesting oversight that they offer not a single word about how the U.S. are helping fuel and exacerbate the war – and have been for circa 18 months – via shipping in arms. You’d think, if their aim is (as they say) to ‘set out a strategy for a negotiated end to the Syrian conflict that is the root cause of the humanitarian crisis’, asking the U.S. et al to stop pouring arms into the middle of the conflict might be a fairly simple and straightforward demand for them to make, but apparently not.
To be clear, i’m not saying here that the gun running of the U.S., Qatar, Saudi Arabia, France, Turkey and the U.K. is the only thing driving the war, of course, or even the main thing. But it is a factor, as numerous credible sources have said, and so it does seem strange that they’d totally ignore it.
They also neglect to mention just what affect ‘the use of force’ might have on the ground in Syria.
‘If an air strike is announced, the number of people fleeing Syria will increase dramatically, with catastrophic effects on the already desperate humanitarian situation in neighbouring countries’, Christian Aid have said. While Magne Barth, head of the ICRC’s delegation in Syria, has said that ‘Further escalation will likely trigger more displacement and add to humanitarian needs which are already immense. There are acute shortages of vital medical supplies, food and water in a number of areas that have been sealed off for months An escalation in military engagement within Syria will worsen an already precarious humanitarian situation’.
A human rights NGO advocating a course of action that will likely worsen the humanitarian situation? What’s that all about?
Instead, they just want the ‘The president’ – who has a massive amount of blood on his own hands, and who presides over the worlds biggest stockpile of WMDs – to go to the U.N. and lay down the law, backed with the threat of extreme violence should the satraps disobey.
Human Rights First also go further than U.S. and German Intelligence have been prepared to go by pinning a general ‘use of chemical weapons’ on ‘the Assad regime’. This despite multiple U.S. Intelligence officials telling the Associated Press that they have no evidence directly linking Assad or any of his senior commanders to the attacks in Ghouta, and German Intelligence apparently having intercepted numerous communications in which Assad is alleged to have denied his field commanders permission to use chemical weapons.
I agree, as it happens, that such leaks should be treated with a bit scepticism, but even so, by blaming the Assad regime specifically for the ‘use of chemical weapons’, Human Rights First are taking an accusation that is as yet unproven, and treating it as a fact, to help drum up a case for war.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, this organisation seem very popular with all the right people, and proudly trumpet some of the praise they’ve been getting from . . .
‘Human Rights First’s approach … [is] smart, strategic, and principled’.
Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton
‘Thanks for what Human Rights First has done [against the use of torture.]’.
General David Petraeus
‘I never thought I’d live to see the day when a group of generals was working closely with a human rights group’.
Vice-President Joseph Biden
And as a thought experiment, I just wonder what people would make of a Syrian human rights NGO that garnered praise from various senior political and military figures within the country, and that called on ‘The president’ to go the U.N. and demand that Israel disarm, on threat of military bombardment.