Sunday, February 19, 2012

Intrigue, hypocrisy, terrorism, Syria... and Latin America


Intrigue, hypocrisy, terrorism, Syria... and Latin America

Blood-soaked Syrian tyrant Al-Assad with Venezuelan friend
Terrorism-impacted bereaved families tend towards the cynical. We speak from experience.

Still, every so often, things happen on the international stage that cause a person to wonder how low the abysmal ethical standards of big-time politicians and diplomats can go. Take as a striking instance what the United Nations has been doing in relation to the unfolding massacre of civilians taking place this minute and for the past several months in the extremely unlovely republic of Syria.

As the state sponsor (actually one of two - Iran is the other) of the malevolent Hizbollah terrorists of Lebanon, Syria has never been on our most-favored nation list. The blood-drenched Al-Assad family that have owned Syria through two violent generations personify the evil of which men are capable. Bashir Al-Assad is conducting a war against his own citizens that has taken the lives (according to the UN and this report from today) of somewhere between 5,000 and 7,000 people. Just yesterday, Thursday, seventy newly dead Syrians were added to the list. CNN says today that this number includes 47 people killed by Al-Assad's troops on Thursday alone in one small village called Kafranbode, near Hama. It adds that "the approximately 200 people who were wounded were not taken to hospitals for fear that security forces would abduct them."

What a nightmare.

But politicians and tyrants like Bashir Al-Assad rarely, if ever, acknowledge the evil that everyone sees them doing. They have wives and sycophants and for them they invent narratives and issue press releases. There are bound to be people in certain quarters who will swallow the alibis and fantasies, or will make serious efforts to try.

While the Al-Assad massacres were going on (literally), the United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution yesterday
endorsing the Arab League plan for the Syrian president to step down. The vote was 137 in favor and 12 against, with 17 abstentions.
The United States ambassador to the UN, Susan E. Rice, said
"Today, the U.N. General Assembly sent a clear message to the people of Syria: the world is with you"
Britain's ambassador Mark Lyall Grant said
"We hope that the regime will listen to this overwhelming message from the international community today."
And French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said
"This is a new step towards the end of the martyrdom of the Syrian people"
Deceased blood-soaked Libyan dictator Ghaddafi
with Venezuelan friend
All three statements are plainly nonsense. Notwithstanding those 137 votes and 17 abstentions and all those "new steps" and "hopes", the actual messages conveyed clearly to the people of Syria were
  1. It's all pretend. The resolution of the world's parliament was non-binding - some reports accurately call it 'symbolic', and the Syrians are expected to keep dying;
  2. Nothing is going to get better soon unless Al-Assad is killed. Russia and China blocked a potentially more substantive andenforceable decision of the UN Security Council just a week ago, and life went on. (And the same two states voted against yesterday's symbolic slap on the Syrian wrist. How do they sleep at night?)
  3. Certain thuggish regimes stand shoulder to shoulder with Al-Assad and his co-conspirators, and so long as they do, the blood is certain to keep flowing.   
Thuggish regimes? Consider Venezuela. Under the headline "Exclusive: Venezuela ships fuel to war-torn Syria", Reuters is reporting this morning that the Hugo Chavez government is delivering $50 million of Venezuelan diesel fuel to the Syrian port of Banias this week. That cargo will ensure Al-Assad's army tanks keep rolling and shooting, undermining the current weak Western sanctions, enabling Syria to keep fueling its military and maintaining the bloody Al-Assad crackdown.

Syria is better known as an exporter of crude oil but is experiencing a shortage of domestic refining capacity. Reuters says international sanctions have stopped Syrian oil exports since September last year, drastically stretching government budget revenues.
Ahmedinijad of Iran, with Venezuelan friend

Quite a piece of work is this Chavez. Thick-and-thin buddy of Bashar al-Assad, special chum of Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (who visited Venezuela last month in his fifth trip to Latin America since 2005) and - even today - defender of the now-dead Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi.

Ask Chavez or his mother if the man is a terrorist and the answer will be an emphatic "no".  But there is much about which to worry in the man's deeds. US Senator Richard Luger laid out the concerns well in a newspaper op ed this week entitled "Growing risk posed by Iran-Venezuela axis".
The chances of Venezuela serving as Iran’s surrogate in the hemisphere through terrorism or other coordinated action are increased by its chaotic state of affairs. Venezuela is in the midst of a make-or-break election that will determine the survival of its democracy amid continuing doubts about President Chávez’s health and a welcomed show of will by its diverse opposition groups. Divisions in Venezuela’s Russian-armed military, an inflation rate over 30 percent, a dilapidated oil infrastructure, widespread food and energy shortages, and soaring crime rates are all putting heavy pressure on President Chávez.
The whole Luger piece is worth your time.

Now take into account that Chavez-dominated Venezuela supplies the US with about 10 percent of its current imports of crude oil and petroleum products. As the cynics like to say, what could go wrong?