Millions have been shocked by the sight of children dying as a result of the recent Khan Sheikhoun massacre in Idlib. We should be aware that unfortunately this might not be the last chemical attack.
Such attacks have taken place several times in the past. We wake up to the news of horrific massacres and then life goes back to normal. Then another massacre happens. The photo of Aylan Kurdi, the Syrian boy who drowned in the Mediterranean Sea as he was fleeing the war in Syria with his family, shook the world but nothing happened.
Later on, there was the picture of Syrian child Omran Daqneesh wiping blood off his face; nothing happened thereafter. Unfortunately, nothing will happen now as well. It is morally and ethically shameful to live through these developments and watch how these crimes against humanity are being committed before the eyes of the entire world.
Why did I say this tragedy will happen again and perhaps very soon? It is because the world is passing through a phase of chaos and there is no power capable of ending these human tragedies. Victims’ hopes and demands do not jail criminals; security forces do but there is no one policing the world today.
Assad will attack his people with toxic gas like he has done before and Russian President Vladimir Putin, the Iranian regime and Hezbollah will protect him. There will be no power in the world that will be capable of punishing him. In order to understand how we have reached this state of affairs, where crimes are being publicly committed, we must go back a little.
Action speaks louder than words. The discussion should now be focused on the policy Trump adopts to deal with this crisis and what are likely to be its implicationsMamdouh AlMuhaini
Dictators of the past
History is full of leaders who have committed hideous massacres. However, there has always been a virtuous power capable of deterring them and maintaining the international system.
Adolf Hitler committed terrifying massacres but thanks to American power and famous British leader Winston Churchill, he was defeated. As he killed himself, his evil regime ended for good. Benito Mussolini also committed horrible crimes and in the end he was executed and his body was hung upside down like a slain sheep. The allies’ power was the reason behind his fall.
Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi also committed terrible crimes and he would have remained in power for many decades and committed more crimes if the NATO hadn’t intervened and put an end to his dark era.
Iraqi President Saddam Hussein paid the price for his horrible crime. Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic, who committed war crimes, ended up dead in a prison cell in The Hague. All these and many other criminals would have resumed killing people if a power had not emerged at the right time and eliminated them.
When it comes to Bashar al-Assad, the situation has been different for several reasons. The most significant one is the retreat of the American power during Barack Obama’s term who promised to punish Assad but backed down at the last minute.
Some officials in his administration – such as US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and later John Kerry – called on him to intervene and end the Syrian tragedy but he refused to perform the role of the necessary good power at the right time.
Although Obama reiterated that he did not want to involve his soldiers in this war, like the way it happened in Iraq, the issue was much bigger than that. It was maintaining a world order, which had lost its balance due to the crimes against innocent people.
Lack of accountability
This is the reason why several massacres have taken place and yet no one is held accountable. It is no longer strange to see footages of blue bodies of dead children being shown on television channels.
What’s worse is that the Iranians and Russians practically want to destroy this international system and establish another that has different standards and conditions where rogue regimes continue to commit their crimes without being held accountable.
This amounts to destroying the world we live in today – the world which we thought has become civilized to the point that it will not allow these massacres to be committed in public.
Obama’s term has ended so the attention is focused on the Trump administration, which has condemned these massacres. Trump’s comments on the chemical attack have been far more forceful than that of his aides. He said the attack is something “that cannot be ignored by the civilized world.”
Of course, action speaks louder than words. The discussion should now be focused on the policy Trump adopts to deal with this crisis and what are likely to be its implications. Will he continue the isolationist policy like his predecessor or demand human rights, like Jimmy Carter. Will he call for democracy like George W. Bush or be a realist like George Bush Sr.?
All these political classifications do not matter amid the chaos and all these unprecedented horrific massacres. Syrians do not want to defend their rights but they just want to stay alive. This is the least that the American power, which is the only power capable of confronting this axis of evil, can do.
Ironically, the Iranians have condemned the crime and said they want to help children caught in this conflict. These are the same children Iran participated in killing by attacking them with chemical gas and barrel bombs.
This article is also available in Arabic.
Mamdouh AlMuhaini is the Editor-in-Chief of Al Arabiya News Channel’s digital platforms. He can be followed on Twitter @malmhuain.