Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Opinion: Syria and the legality of confronting the illegal | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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A United Nations (UN) arms expert collects samples as they inspect the site where rockets had fallen in Damascus’ eastern Ghouta suburb during an investigation into a suspected chemical weapons strike near the capital. AFP PHOTO /AMMAR AL-ARBINI

The summary of the argument in the West on the Syrian crisis, and the repercussion of Assad’s use of chemical weapons there, revolves around the legality of foreign intervention without the UN Security Council’s approval to confront Assad’s crimes.

In Europe and America, there is an argument going on about the legality of intervention without Security Council approval. Ridiculously, we find Hezbollah saying Western intervention in Syria is part of organized terrorism and is a threat to the region. Russia says that no intervention should be allowed without Security Council approval, while the Security Council is defunct because of the Russian position, which defends Assad.

We are therefore facing something resembling a Hollywood movie, where police are trying to capture a Mafia gang, while the police itself defends the Mafia and protects them by providing them with information to prevent their capture. This, of course, is what Moscow is doing in the Security Council in defense of Assad, and after that, Russia tells the international community about the importance of resorting to the Security Council, which has been made defunct.

The West is asked to go to the Security Council despite the fact that everyone knows it is defunct, and it is hostage to the Russian position that supports Assad’s crimes. All this happens while Iran and Hezbollah interfere in Syria without questions from the West about the legality of such interference, even though Tehran’s and Hezbollah’s interference aims at killing more Syrians. These are, of course, joined by Iraqi Shi’ite militias.

After all that, some parties in the West say that the safety of minorities in Syria must be guaranteed. Some talk about the importance of international intervention falling under the Security Council umbrella, while no one in the West—institutions, associations or writers—criticized the Israeli military strike on Syria a few weeks ago, which targeted arms said to be en route to Hezbollah, which came without the approval of the Security Council.

This argument continues in the West on legal matters while Syria and the region witness one of the biggest crimes of the century, and the argument continues while Assad’s killing machine, using Russian weapons, continues to kill Syrians and destroy Syria.

Is there a failure bigger than this? And is there worse inaction? The irony does not end there, however. London’s Al-Hayat newspaper quoted a European diplomat as saying the evidence presented by intelligence recently has convinced the Europeans that Assad’s regime was involved. The European diplomat continued, saying, “The only question remaining is: Did Assad take the decision or was the decision taken at the military level?”

Is there contempt or inaction worse than that?