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From Petersburg to Khan Sheikhoun

Mashari Althaydi

Published: Updated:

On Monday, the terrorist attack which targeted Saint Petersburg Metro killed at least 11 and injured dozens others. On the very next day, the town of Khan Sheikhoun in Idlib in North Syria suffered from a serious war crime after the Syrian regime attacked it with chemical gas killing at least 58 civilians.

It is a dangerous coincidence and shows how crises and attacks across the world are linked to each other. What happened against innocent civilians in Russia is a crime and that is beyond doubt. According to preliminary investigations, the attack was carried out by Akbarzhon Jalilov, who is originally from Kyrgyzstan and was affiliated to the ISIS. The man who carried out the Istanbul nightclub shooting on New Year’s Eve was also from the same country.

What happened in Khan Sheikhoun is a major disaster for the international community. The pictures of Syrian children with their eyes wide open after the deadly chemical attack raises feelings of anger and panic.

The entire civilized world condemned the St. Petersburg attack. However, does this “entire” world also clearly, unhesitatingly and strongly, condemn the Khan Sheikhoun crime? In all fairness, the western world, France and the European Union spoke loudly against this attack.

High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs Federica Mogherini slammed the chemical attack and said Syrian President Bashar al-Assad was responsible for it. French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault called on everyone to shoulder their responsibilities and called for an urgent UN Security Council meeting.

Honestly speaking, explosions targeting Russia were expected as Russia has been a tempting target for terrorist groups even before it intervened in Syria, let alone following its intervention

Mashari Althayidi

Evading responsibility

As usual, the Assad regime invented a story to evade responsibility, just like it did with the infamous Abu Adas incident. It evaded the responsibility for the attack and said the opposition was angry because it is being defeated. Oh well! Does this anger mean the opposition will attack its own people in Khan Sheikhoun using chemical gas?

The Russians also denied any role and said their jets were not there. Most probably, or rather almost certainly, the perpetrator is Bashar al-Assad whose forces have carried out a similar attack in the past in eastern Ghouta. Back then, Barack Obama threatened him with “red lines!”

Mohamed Sabra, chief negotiator for the Syrian opposition during the Geneva talks, said the chemical attack puts Geneva talks, which aim to settle the dispute, into question. Honestly speaking, explosions targeting Russia were expected as Russia has been a tempting target for terrorist groups even before it intervened in Syria, let alone following its intervention.

When Washington, London and Paris condemned Assad, particularly after he carried out chemical attacks, Moscow and Beijing used their veto powers seven times. The attack in Petersburg and the chemical attack in Khan Sheikhoun should both be condemned.

Evil summons evil. May God protect us from all wickedness.

This article is also available in Arabic.
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Saudi journalist Mashari Althaydi presents Al Arabiya News Channel’s “views on the news” daily show “Maraya.” He has previously held the position of a managing senior editor for Saudi Arabia & Gulf region at pan-Arab newspaper Asharq al-Awsat. Althaydi has published several papers on political Islam and social history of Saudi Arabia. He appears as a guest on several radio and television programs to discuss the ideologies of extremist groups and terrorists. He tweets under @MAlthaydy.

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.