WHATEVER the reasons behind the armed conflict in Syria, there’s no doubt that the war between President Bashar al-Assad’s government and his many ememies – in particular those associated with Islamic State – has become increasingly bloody. Indeed, hardly a week goes by without some form of atrocity being reported.
But is every atrocity being evenly investigated and reported to the same degree? And are all the innocent victims – in particular defenceless children – receiving the same attention? Or is there some perverse ‘hierarchy of suffering’ at work in Syria?
Robert Fisk is one man who appears to think that there is some form of ‘hierarchy of suffering’. Fisk is the multi-award winning Middle East correspondent of The Independent, based in Beirut. A veteran and highly eperienced reporter, Fisk has lived in the Arab world for more than 40 years, ‘covering Lebanon, five Israeli invasions, the Iran-Iraq war, the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, the Algerian civil war, Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait, the Bosnian and Kosovo wars, the American invasion and occupation of Iraq and the 2011 Arab revolutions’
It goes without saying that there are no official links between Robert Fisk, The Independent or Nations without States.
If Trump cares so much about Syrian babies, why is he not condemning the rebels who slaughtered children?
US President Trump doesn’t seem to care when some Syrian children are killed. Nearly 100 children were recently killed but they don’t count as their parents supported Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Robert Fisk (right) seems to believe that there’s some form of a ‘Hierarchy Of Suffering’ in Syria. Is he correct?
Dozens of children were killed in Syria this weekend but where is the US president’s lament on how ‘beautiful’ they are, let alone action? Where are the denunciations by the EU and the UK? The West must react with equal outrage when it is Shias that are the victims of terrorism. Or do we just not care?
It was the Mother of all Hypocrisy. Some dead Syrian babies matter, I guess. Other dead Syrian babies don’t matter. One mass murder in Syria two weeks ago killed children and babies and stirred our leaders to righteous indignation. But the slaughter in Syria this weekend (1) killed even more children and babies – yet brought forth nothing but silence from those who claim to guard our moral values. Now why should this be?
When a gas attack in Syria killed more than 70 civilians on 4 April, including babies and children, Donald Trump ordered a missile attack on Syria. America applauded. So did its media. So did much of the world. Trump called Bashar al-Assad “evil” and “an animal”. The EU condemned the Syrian regime. Downing Street called the gas attack “barbaric”. Almost every western leader demanded that Assad should be overthrown.
Yet after this weekend’s suicide bombing of a convoy of civilian refugees outside Aleppo killed 126 Syrians, more than 80 of them children, the White House said nothing. Even though the death toll was far greater, Trump didn’t even Tweet his grief. The US navy launched not even a symbolic bullet towards Syria. The EU went all coy and refused to say a single word. All talk of “barbarism” from Downing Street was smothered.
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 (2) 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.