FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Mother of All Hypocrisies: Trump Cares for Some Syrian Babies Not Others

Photo by Beshr Abdulhadi | CC BY 2.0

Photo by Beshr Abdulhadi | CC BY 2.0

 

Do they feel no sense of shame? What callousness. What disgrace. How outrageous that our compassion should dry up the moment we realised that this latest massacre of the innocents wasn’t quite worth the same amount of tears and fury that the early massacre had produced. It fact it wasn’t worth a single tear. For the 126 Syrians – almost all of them civilians – who have just been killed outside Aleppo, were Shia Muslims being evacuated from two government-held (ie Bashar-held) villages in the north of Syria. And their killer was obviously from al-Nusra (al-Qaeda) or one of the Sunni “rebel” groups we in the West have armed – or quite possibly from Isis itself – and thus didn’t qualify for our sorrow.

The UN, clip-clopping on to the stage-boards as usual, did speak out. The latest attack was “a new horror”. And Pope Francis called it “ignoble” and prayed for “beloved and martyred Syria”. And having been brought up by a pretty anti-Catholic dad, I said what I often say when I think the Pontiff has got it right, especially Francis: Good old Pope! Why, even the virtually non-existent anti-Assad “Free Syrian Army” condemned the attack as “terrorist”.

But that was it. And I recalled all those maudlin stories about how Ivanka Trump, as a mother, had been especially moved by the videotape from Khan Shaykoun, the site of the chemical attack on 4 April, and had urged her father to do something about it. And then it was Federica Mogherini, the EU’s ‘High Representative” for foreign affairs and security policy, who described the attack as “awful” – but insisted that she spoke “first of all as a mother”. Quite right, too. But what happened to all her maternal feelings – and those of Ivanka – when the pictures came in from northern Syria this weekend of exploded babies and children packaged up in black plastic bags? Silence.

There’s no doubting the flagrant, deliberate, vile cruelty of Saturday’s attack. The suicide bomber approached the refugee buses with a cartload of children’s cookies and potato chips – approaching, I might add, a population of fleeing Shia civilians who had been starving under siege by the anti-Assad rebels (some of whom, of course, were armed by us). Yet they didn’t count. Their “beautiful little babies” – I quote Trump on the earlier gas victims – didn’t stir us to anger. Because they were Shias? Because the culprits might have been too closely associated with us in the West? Or because – and here’s the point – they were the victims of the wrong kind of killer.

For what we want right now is to blame the “evil”, “animal”, “brutal”, etc, Bashar al-Assad who was first “suspected” to have carried out the 4 April gas attack (I quote The Wall Street Journal, no less) and then accused by the entire West of total and deliberate responsibility of the gas massacre. No-one should question the brutality of the regime. Nor its torture. Nor its history of massive oppression. Yet there are, in fact, some grave doubts about Bashar’s responsibility for the 4 April attack – which he has predictably denied – even among Arabs who loath his Baathist regime and all it stands for.

Even the leftist but hardly pro-Syrian Israeli writer Uri Avneri – briefly, in his life, a detective – has asked why Assad should commit such a crime when his army and its allies were winning the war in Syria, when such an attack would gravely embarrass the Russian government and military, and when it would change the softening western attitude towards him back towards open support for regime change.

And the regime’s claim that a Syrian air attack set off explosions in al-Nusra weapons store in Khan Shaykoun (an idea which the Russians also adopted) would be easier to dismiss if the Americans had not used precisely the same excuse for the killing of well over a hundred Iraqi civilians in Mosul in March; they suggested that a US air strike on an Isis arms lorry may have killed the civilians.

But this has nothing to do with the weekend’s far more bloody assault on the refugee convoys heading for western Aleppo. They were part of a now-familiar pattern of mass hostage exchanges between the Syrian government and its opponents in which Sunni opponents of the regime in villages surrounded by the Syrian army or its allies have been trucked out to Idlib and other “rebel”-held areas under safe passage in return for the freedom of Shia villagers surrounded by al-Nusra, Isis and “our” rebels who have been allowed to leave their villages for the safety of government-held cities. Such were the victims of Saturday’s suicide bombing; they were Shia villagers of al-Foua and Kfraya, along with several government fighters, en route to what would be – for them – the safety of Aleppo.

Whether or not this constitutes a form of ethnic cleansing – another of Bashar’s sins, according to his enemies – is a moot point. Al-Nusra did not exactly urge the villagers of al-Foua and Kfraya to stay home since they wanted some of their own Sunni fighters back from their own encircled enclaves. Last month, the governor of Homs pleaded with Sunnis to leave the city on “rebel” convoys to Idlib to stay in their houses and remain in the city. But this is a civil war and such terrifying conflicts divide cities and towns for generations. Just look at Lebanon 27 years after its civil war ended.

But what ultimately proves our own participation in this immoral and unjust and frightful civil war is our reaction to those two massacres of the innocents. We cried over and lamented and even went to war for those “beautiful little babies” whom we believed to be Sunni victims of the Assad government. But when Shia babies of equal humanity were blasted to pieces this weekend, Trump could not care less. And the mothering spirit of Ivanka and Federica simply dried up.

And we claim that Middle East violence has nothing to do with us.

More articles by:

Robert Fisk writes for the Independent, where this column originally appeared. 

July 08, 2020
Laura Carlsen
Lopez Obrador’s Visit to Trump is a Betrayal of the U.S. and Mexican People
Melvin Goodman
Afghanistan: What is to be Done?
Thomas Klikauer – Norman Simms
The End of the American Newspaper
Sonali Kolhatkar
The Merits of Medicare for All Have Been Proven by This Pandemic
David Rosen
It’s Now Ghislaine Maxwell’s Turn
Nicolas J S Davies
Key U.S. Ally Indicted for Organ Trade Murder Scheme
Bob Lord
Welcome to Hectobillionaire Land
Laura Flanders
The Great American Lie
John Kendall Hawkins
Van Gogh’s Literary Influences
Marc Norton
Reopening vs. Lockdown is a False Dichotomy
Joel Schlosberg
“All the Credit He Gave Us:” Time to Drop Hamilton’s Economics
John Feffer
The US is Now the Global Public Health Emergency
Nick Licata
Three Books on the 2020 Presidential Election and Their Relevance to the Black Live Matter Protests
Elliot Sperber
The Breonna Taylor Bridge
July 07, 2020
Richard Eskow
The War on Logic: Contradictions and Absurdities in the House’s Military Spending Bill
Daniel Beaumont
Gimme Shelter: the Brief And Strange History of CHOP (AKA CHAZ)
Richard C. Gross
Trump’s War
Patrick Cockburn
Trump’s Racism May be Blatant, But the Culture He Defends Comes Out of the Civil War and Goes Well Beyond Racial Division
Andrew Stewart
Can We Compare the George Floyd Protests to the Vietnam War Protests? Maybe, But the Analogy is Imperfect
Walden Bello
The Racist Underpinnings of the American Way of War
Nyla Ali Khan
Fallacious Arguments Employed to Justify the Revocation of Jammu and Kashmir’s Autonomy and Its Bifurcation
Don Fitz
A Statue of Hatuey
Dean Baker
Unemployment Benefits Should Depend on the Pandemic
Ramzy Baroud – Romana Rubeo
Will the ICC Investigation Bring Justice for Palestine?
Sam Pizzigati
Social Distancing for Mega-Million Fun and Profit
Dave Lindorff
Private: Why the High Dudgeon over Alleged Russian Bounties for Taliban Slaying of US Troops
George Wuerthner
Of Fire and Fish
Binoy Kampmark
Killing Koalas: the Promise of Extinction Down Under
Parth M.N.
Back to School in Rural India: Digital Divide to Digital Partition
Ed Sanders
The Burning of Newgate Prison: a Glyph
July 06, 2020
Melvin Goodman
Foreign Election Interference: Who is to Blame?
JoAnn Wypijewski
On Disposability and Rebellion: Insights From a Rank-and-File Insurgency
Marshall Auerback – Jan Frel
There’s a Hidden Economic Trendline That is Shattering the Global Trade System
Evaggelos Vallianatos
A Just and Talented Government for Our Hazardous Age
Manuel García, Jr.
Biosphere Warming in Numbers
Ron Jacobs
Kidnapping Kids: As American as the Fourth of July
Tasha Jones
Pyramids. Plantations. Projects. Penitentiaries
Binoy Kampmark
Criminalising Journalism: Australia’s National Security Craze
Eve Ottenberg
Re-Organizing Labor
Mike Garrity
How We Stopped Trump From Trashing a Critical Montana Roadless Area in Grizzly Habitat
Nino Pagliccia
The Meaning of the 1811 Independence for Today’s Venezuela
Michael Galant
We Need a Global Green New Deal
Jill Richardson
Learning Not to Look Away
Marshall Sahlins
Donald Trump at 130,000 and Rising
Weekend Edition
July 03, 2020
Friday - Sunday
Peter Linebaugh
Police and the Wealth of Nations: Déjà Vu or Unfinished Business?
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail