By Mufid Abdulla:
When Saddam gassed Halabja in 1988, he killed 5000 people and injured thousands and the human consequences are still being felt today. Assad’s regime in Syria is led by the Baathist Party which is the sister party to Saddam’s Baathist Party. The founder of this nationalist party was Michael Aflaq who was born in Syria and died in Iraq. Saddam’s use of chemical weapons against his own people could possibly have been prevented if the Western powers had talked to the Kurdish leaders and taken account of the documents and evidence of Saddam’s ongoing atrocities against the Kurds.
The Syrian popular uprising started in February 2011, when a peaceful demonstration in Damascus was turned into a bloodbath by the regime’s security forces. The West will have known that Assad would do everything he could to stay in power. It had ample intelligence and knowledge about this regime. In 1988, when the West showed hesitation against Saddam, this only made him wilder and bloodier. The Anfal operation, begun near the end of the Iran-Iraq war, had the same objective as Hitler’s Holocaust against the Jews. 182,000 Kurds were seized from their homes and taken to mass killing grounds all over Iraq. International observers have recorded the scale of the horror of Saddam’s genocidal campaign. But the West did nothing and Saddam did not stop there – next he attacked Kuwait, which is a vital strategic ally of the USA.
According to the French DGSE (intelligence service), Damascus is holding the world’s largest stocks of operational chemical weapons. But what will the West do about this?
For the last two years the world has watched the Assad regime massacre its own people. The West’s response has been along the lines of: “We are not sure if our intervention will strengthen the fundamentalists in Syria”. But, today, Syria is wide open to the extent of being a magnet for international Jihadists such as Al Qaeda and Jaba Nusra.
The world must show unity against the latest chemical atrocity of the Syrian regime. It needs to stand shoulder-to-shoulder against this regime which has used the most deadly weapons against its own people. If it does nothing, Assad’s next target could be to attack Turkey or Jordan. However, recent research has shown that military intervention does not necessarily make the situation better, but can even make it worse, as we have seen in Afghanistan and Iraq. The alternative, though, is not inaction but rather to increase material support for the democratic opposition forces in Syria and to give diplomatic status to the legitimate opposition, including by granting it recognised offices in the world’s leading capitals.
The international community must also provide material support to Kurd forces fighting to protect their areas and to resist the Al Qaeda-affiliated terrorists who last month massacred hundreds of Kurdish women and children.
The world must not stand idly by and should instead massively increase its backing for the democratic forces seeking to oust Assad.