AS­SAD USED CHEM­I­CAL WEAPONS, DIDN’T HE?

In­stead of re­leas­ing a re­port to prove As­sad’s use of chem­i­cal weapons on Khan Sheikhoun, the UN needs to take con­crete ac­tions to stop his in­hu­mane ac­tiv­i­ties

Daily Sabah (Turkey) - - Front Page - Beril Dedeoğlu

AS­SAD made the sit­u­a­tion in Syria so com­plex that it be­came im­pos­si­ble to con­duct any in­ter­na­tional in­ter­ven­tion with min­i­mum losses and at rea­son­able lengths

The in­ves­tiga­tive panel cre­ated by the United Na­tions with the col­lab­o­ra­tion of the Or­ga­ni­za­tion for the Pro­hi­bi­tion of Chem­i­cal Weapons (OPCW) re­cently pub­lished its re­port on the use of chem­i­cal weapons by the mil­i­tary forces of Bashar As­sad’s regime. Ac­cord­ing to the re­port, the panel is con­fi­dent that the regime is re­spon­si­ble for the re­lease of sarin gas on Khan Sheikhoun, Syria in April 2017. The at­tack killed dozens of civil­ians.

As the panel was cre­ated by the United Na­tions Se­cu­rity Coun­cil (UNSC), its re­port will most prob­a­bly be taken se­ri­ously and will pro­voke a heated de­bate at the coun­cil. A de­bate does not nec­es­sar­ily mean ac­tion, though. There are plenty of ex­am­ples where such atroc­i­ties were sim­ply con­demned by the U.N. without any se­ri­ous con­se­quence for the per­pe­tra­tors. The in­ac­tion will per­haps show the world once again how in­ef­fec­tive the UNSC has be­come, and maybe this is an achieve­ment in it­self.

What needs to be done is to make the In­ter­na­tional Crim­i­nal Court (ICC) take ac­tion, as that is what the ICC was cre­ated for. If the judges and pros­e­cu­tors of the ICC find time to look some­where other than Africa, they will no­tice there are a lot of cases that de­serve at­ten­tion. Syria is one of them.

In­ter­na­tional courts and or­ga­ni­za­tions like the U.N. close their eyes to mas­sacres, atroc­i­ties or hu­man tragedies from time to time. Nev­er­the­less, we have also seen a num­ber of cases about which states de­cided to take ac­tion on their own in the name of erad­i­cat­ing the risk of chem­i­cal war. This is what the United States did in Iraq, as Sad­dam Hus­sein’s use of chem­i­cal weapons on civil­ians in his own coun­try was the most im­por­tant jus­ti­fi­ca­tion for mil­i­tary in­ter­ven­tion. He was cap­tured some­time af­ter the U.S. oc­cu­pa­tion, but he did not get an in­ter­na­tional trial, sim­ply be­cause he could not be con­demned to death if he had been judged by an in­ter­na­tional court. He faced an Iraqi tri­bunal in­stead, which gave him the death penalty. As such, his case can­not be seen as an ex­am­ple for the im­prove­ment of in­ter­na­tional crim­i­nal jus­tice.

The U.N. panel’s re­port of­fers good ev­i­dence to bring As­sad to jus­tice one day. In fact, the pos­si­bil­i­ties are not many, as ei­ther the UNSC will adopt new sanc­tions, which will prob­a­bly prove use­less once again; As­sad will be pros­e­cuted for crimes against hu­man­ity; or a coun­try or coali­tion of coun­tries will in­ter­vene in the name of hu­man­ity to stop this atroc­ity. Or maybe, ev­ery­one will look away, and As­sad will feel free to use chem­i­cal weapons again when­ever he wants.

Who can in­ter­vene and how to in­ter­vene in Syria are, of course, crit­i­cal questions. Be­cause of the mis­takes he has made, As­sad has brought his coun­try to to­tal chaos, which has pulled ev­ery­body in. As­sad has cre­ated such a mess and he made the sit­u­a­tion in Syria so com­plex that it be­came im­pos­si­ble to con­duct any in­ter­na­tional in­ter­ven­tion with min­i­mum losses and at rea­son­able length. He let as many play­ers as pos­si­ble in the game to be able to re­main on the scene as long as pos­si­ble.

None­the­less, the U.N.’s re­port is maybe an in­di­ca­tor that his time is up. Maybe the mo­ment has ar­rived to get rid of him and re­place him with a new ruler. This will, of course, be pos­si­ble only if Rus­sia and the U.S. agree on it. Many peo­ple think there is un­bear­able ten­sion between Moscow and Wash­ing­ton, but maybe this is not true. Maybe they just need to give the im­pres­sion that there is ten­sion. The sup­posed ten­sion between these two lead­ing pow­ers al­lows their pres­i­dents to re­in­force their po­si­tion in their re­spec­tive coun­tries. Maybe Pres­i­dents Vladimir Putin and Don­ald Trump are just forc­ing other coun­tries to pick their side.

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