The complete write-up
Houla was just a name that had figured up in some war reports from the Syrian rebel hotbeds until May 25, 2012, when it shocked like a mighty explosion with the barbaric act of planned execution of more that 100 in this Homs town of three villages. Though Bashar al-Assad denied today any hand of the Syrian regime, there cannot be any other alternative explanation to the butchery but the direct involvement of the Syrian forces. According to a report in the British daily, ‘The Guardian’, the satellite photographs taken by the USshow presence of artillery impact craters in the area.
10 seconds into a clip on the Houla massacre, I was not able to go any further. Even those 10 seconds left me so haunted that the whole evening was swept away. United Nations says of all the massacred, 32 were children below 10 years of age. The bodies were so mutilated that such an act of monstrosity cannot be expected from any animal in the human form.
Houla is not the first case. Such planned executions have been happening to extend the iron grip of the dictatorial regimes throughout the world, throughout the history. The differential now is that such stories are reaching across the world, with all the visual proof and imagery.
But nothing seems to be working on the fear cultivating despots and on the international community to act in an impartial way.
The current run of the civilian massacre in Syria began on March 18, 2011 after the anti-regime protests of March 15, 2011 in Damascus. Since then, over 15,000 civilians have been killed by the regime forces. But the international community is yet to find a ‘worthwhile’ reason to intervene in Syria. Assad’s audacity is certainly emboldened by this lame attitude as well as by the tacit support of two powerful but autocratic countries run with despotic mindset – Russia and China.
The international geopolitics in cases like Syria has been clearly tilted in the favor of interests of the rich countries. When countries-in-question serve any purpose, the ground is manufactured to intervene even if it can never be proved like the weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.
Let’s see some major countries that have seen international intervention to effect the regime change or to extend protection against the neighbourhood hostility:
Kuwait – oil rich country
Afghanistan –though not an oil rich country, it was more of a question of US prestige than war on terror
All these countries except Afghanistan were rich in the singular and the most important commodity that shaped the modern world – oil – and the global ‘powers’ didn’t hesitate in imposing full blown wars when the regimes in these countries turned their back on the US and other western countries. (Though, they were comfortably ignorant of the atrocities when the dictators were friendly allies!)
Iran is the centre point of possibly the next oil war in the garb of nuclear weapons (an oil rich country – see, they already have a reason thus!).
Afghanistan, with poor oil supply, in all probability, looks doomed now. International forces are to leave the country by 2014 even if the Taliban is resurgent and getting stronger. US was after Osama bin-Laden and he is killed, so no more validity to remain there – after avenging the humiliation to the US pride in the form of 9/11 attacks.
What exposes the hollow principles of the international geopolitical ‘policies’ is the continued belligerence of many rogue countries including Syria.
Human rights are non-existent in these countries but as they do not serve directly to the interests of any major world ‘power’, they are comfortably forgotten and the list of such countries is long. Even listing some of them here would clear out the point.
Pakistan – a politically unstable country patronizing terror as state policy and such a country has been allowed to increase its nuclear arsenal – Pakistan is a poor country, an oil importer, but, somehow, serves to the petty interests of US and China.
North Korea – a dry, barren land, nothing much explored in the name of natural resources – a country alleged to have killed millions of its citizens in the last 50 years – the international community is yet to find a ‘reason’ to intervene actively.
Bahrain – Bahrain happened to be the high point of talks during the tidal-effect days of the Arab Spring but the dictator there crushed the uprising brutally killing many – Bahrain has limited oil resources and so, expectedly, the international community didn’t see the reasons to intervene.
Zimbabwe – Robert Mugabe is literally making a joke of anything that we call a united world body. He has been ruling the African nation with hammer killing on will since the past 32 years and the result has been Zimbabwe is among the poorest nations. Also, Zimbabwe is not an oil-rich country.
There are many small nations, apart from biggies like China, Russia, Cuba, where human rights are heavily crushed but as these countries are either too powerful or too insignificant to serve the interests of the world powers; their human citizens are left to be harvested as animals by the animals ruling over them.
And Syria comes in this category. Its oil production is relatively small. According to a US Department of State report, Syria accounted for just 0.5 per cent of the total global oil production in 2010. And so again, expectedly, the international community is finding it almost impossible to find a reason to intervene in Syria even if the civilian death toll is mounting rapidly.
So we have stupid attempts like UN-Arab League peace initiative or British or French rhetoric of saving lives or Obama’s or Clinton’s wisdom that intervening in Syria would bring catastrophe.
What is happening is less than catastrophe? 15,000 is the assessment of international community based on fragile reports by the rebels filtered out through social media. The real number of people killed is bound to be much higher.
What else is left for one to believe that the time is running out? A regime that is massacring even the children in a planned way, as happened in Houla, or an Opposition that is divided and inefficient to fight – doesn’t this situation call for an active intervention?
Mr. Kofi Anna, the UN-Arab League Peace Envoy, prepared a peace plan that came into effect on April 12, 2012. Let’s see how Syria has progressed since then:
April 16, 2012 – Security forced killed 55 civilians
April 17, 2012 – 77 civilians killed, mainly in Homs and Idlib
April 19, 2012 – 42 civilians killed, mainly in Homs
April 20, 2012 – over 50 civilians killed, primarily in Idlib
April 25, 2012 – over 100 civilians reportedly killed, primarily in Hama
May 3, 2012 – Security forces killed 25 civilians including students from Aleppo University
May 4, 2012 – 12 killed by forces in Damascus and Aleppo
May 7, 2012 - Local Coordination Committees of Syria (LCC) reports 35 civilians killed
May 8 & 9 – LCC reports put the toll at 36 and 20 civilians for the days
May 10, 2012 - twin bomb explosions in Damascus killed 55 and wound over 350
May 15, 2012 – Security forced opened fire on a funeral procession in Khan Sheikhoun killing 21 (UN observers were visiting the town at the same time)
May 16, 2012 – 40 civilians killed by the regime forces in a Homs neighbourhood
May 25, 2012 – Houla massacre was planned and executed
May 28, 202 – at least 41 alleged to be killed in artillery assault on Hama
May 29, 2012 – Syrian forced killed 72 civilians in Homs and Deir Ezzor
May 30, 2012 - 46 civilians killed in Douma and Damascus
May 31, 2012 – another 61 civilians killed by the regime forces
These are some widely ‘reported’ assaults in addition to the less reported/unreported regular bombings by the regime forces on areas believed to be the rebel shelters, killing many. In fact, if one goes by the reports collected by the LCC and other smaller groups working for the Syrian cause, one would find that not a single day has passed in the recent Syrian history when civilians were not killed by the Assad’s forces.
For past many months, every passing moment has been the high time to intervene in Syria but the international community has failed to act.
Can Houla massacre change that?
Merely expelling the Syrian diplomats for Houla cannot be seen as a serious enough reaction. Gestures for symbolic action had ceased to exist as a valid proposition in Syria’s case a long ago.
Time is running fast but when would we come out of the slumber?