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Peoples’ Destinies at the Mercy of False Reports - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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The rumors spread by Israeli president Shimon Peres in his statement to Mossad-linked media outlets about a Syrian role in providing Hezbollah with Scud missiles and the official American reaction to these rumors bring to mind the spectacle of Colin Powell, who served under both war makers, Bush senior and Bush junior, in the UN Security Council in 2003. He held a small glass container and claimed in front of the whole world that biological weapons the size of that container would endanger the lives of millions, that there was no doubt that Iraq was deceiving international inspectors and that the United States’ patience with Iraq was over.

I recall Security Council meetings in February 2003, when the then French Foreign Minister, Dominique de Villepin made his famous speech in defense of extending the mandate of international inspectors. When former international U.N. weapons inspector Hans Blix asked for six more months to complete inspections and provide the final findings to the Security Council. He gave evidence that Iraq was cooperating fully in facilitating inspections and affirmed that the mission was capable of completing its work in six months.

I remember how a number of European foreign ministers said, without the slightest sense of responsibility, that the system was no longer acceptable, even for days, that Saddam has been deceiving them for over twelve years and that the international community should put an end to that deception. I was in the Security Council hall hosting those historic meetings, looking at their faces and knowing that they were absolutely certain that they were mouthing lies and that they were using legitimate fear of nuclear weapons as a pretext to launch war on Iraq, destroy it and return it to the Middle Ages, as James Baker told Iraqi Foreign Minister Tareq Aziz in January 1991.

Here we are, more than seven years after those Security Council meetings, and after a devastating war in which Bush and his clique of neo-conservatives were responsible for killing over a million unarmed civilians in Iraq. Now that Powell has left the public stage and became capable of telling the truth about what he knew and believed then, he acknowledges that what he told the Security Council was not true. Some people see in this ‘a virtue’ indicating the greatness of democracy instead of bringing to account those responsible for fabricating those lies.

Now, days after Shimon Peres unleashed his lie, one of his ministers hastened to repeat Baker’s threats about Israeli attacks to destroy Syria’s bridges, roads, power generation plants and “returning it to the stone age”. The media also caught the lie and promoted it during the Nuclear Security Summit in Washington two weeks ago. The statement is a stark lie, and merits derision rather than a response. Scud missiles are tens of meters long; and every missile needs a huge truck to carry it. Moreover, a small country like Lebanon in whose airspace reconnaissance drones fly on a daily basis, cannot hide them. Moreover, technical experts know that launching a Scud needs time and effort and collective work which is not compatible with the type of battles in which Hezbollah engages in its defense of Lebanon against Israeli attacks.

The mere circulation of this lie raises doubts about its objectives. Without bothering to ask Israel to provide any evidence of its allegations, Assistant Secretary of State Geffrey Feltman said it would be an “incendiary, provocative action” if it turned out to be true; and that the United States has a “full range of tools” available to make Syria reverse any delivery of ballistic missiles to Hezbollah.

Two American representatives put forward a draft resolution to tighten sanctions against Syria. Representatives Eliot Engel, D-N.Y., and Mark Kirk, R-Il, known for their extreme hostility to Arabs, said in a statement that providing Hezbollah with these missiles “destabilizes the Middle East and is an existential threat to Israel and the independence of Lebanon”.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the U.S expressed deep concern about reports of certain missiles being transferred to Syria and the possibility of then transferring them to Hezbollah. She saw in sending an ambassador to Syria “a tool that we believe can give us extra leverage, added insight, analysis, information with respect to Syria’s actions and intentions”. She pointed out Washington’s “long list of areas that we have discussed with the Syrians, and we intend to continue pushing our concerns” which include hosting Palestinian radicals and feeding the violence in Iraq. The statements of Clinton, Feltman and the two representatives are parrot repetitions of statements made by Netanyahu and other Israeli extremists about Syria without bothering about the possibility that these lies will be blown off in the future.

It is clear that the Scud lie and the parrot statements came to cover for the failure of the Obama administration to face the intransigent Netanyahu government which rejected all American calls to stop settlement or move towards just and comprehensive peace. At this particular time the Scud lie was fabricated in order to divert attention from the truth which has become abundantly clear: Israel is the only obstacle to peace in the Middle East. It also came to undermine the positive developments achieved in the Syrian American relations under the Obama administration. Sine Obama became president, and whenever he made a real and sincere effort to improve relations with the Muslim world through normalizing relations with Syria and defending justice in Palestine, the Israelis come out with a story either of ‘allowing terrorists to enter Iraq’ or ‘feeding Palestinian extremism’ or arming Hezbollah, in order to put an end to any real development of these relations.

The world realizes now that Israel is the enemy of peace in the Middle East. It promotes barbaric wars against the Arabs and prevents achieving any stability in the relations between the United States and the Arab and Muslim worlds. Extremist Israelis and their allies in the United States invent lies which lead to war and human suffering. They are responsible for tarnishing the image of the United States, shedding the blood of its soldiers and wasting its money on wars against the Muslim world. They are responsible for harming both the American people and the peoples of our region by promoting such naked lies.

Dr. Bouthaina Shaaban

Dr. Bouthaina Shaaban

Prof. Bouthaina Shaaban is political and media advisor to the Syrian presidency, and the former minister of Expatriates. She is also a writer, and has been a professor at Damascus University since 1985. She received her PhD in English Literature from Warwick University, London. She was the spokesperson for Syria. She was nominated for Nobel Peace Prize in 2005.

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