To mark the beginning of his extended mandate, the lead investigator from UN-mandated Commission of Inquiry Paulo Sergio Pinheiro summarised the situation in Syria before the Security Council four days ago. However, some of the points he reiterated from the Commission’s previous report, namely the abuses committed by the Free Syrian Army, the presence of anti-government foreign militants and radical jihadists, and especially his insistence that “there is no military solution to end the crisis”, are not likely to go down well with certain countries, visibly impatient to go to yet another war.
Just to have an idea, one only has to look back at the latest Human Rights Council session, which ended on 28 September in Geneva.
In that occasion, US Ambassador Eileen Chamberlain Donahoe’s address to the Council on 10 September left little room to doubt that, while it was all well and good to talk about Human Rights and violations thereof, what the United States government was really itching for was a good old Libya-style regime change in Syria. If anyone had trouble reading between the lines, the following quote, placed in the middle of her statement, was probably designed to help the hard of hearing see the bottom line: “Let’s not forget how we got here: it is a direct result of a brutal regime that reacted violently to peaceful demonstrations and to this day remains bent on denying its people universal human rights. There can be no doubt that the architect of this destruction is Bashar Al Assad, and his regime must end”.
And indeed, she really must have thought her audience did need all the help they could get, considering that, only a couple of hours later, she turned up at a side event called Bearing Witness: Human Rights and Accountability in Syria, where she repeated the very same sentence, word for word.
Quite frankly, it was not all that tricky to see that human rights protection was not exactly the top priority for the US administration: had that been the case, Barack Obama would not have officially authorised clandestine support to the rebels since August (although we do not know when said support really began), in disregard of the fact that, according to the same report of the CoI which Donahoe endorsed and repeatedly referred to, those same rebels have perpetrated war crimes and summary executions (paragraph 60), violations of the rights of the child (paragraphs 114-5), violations of International Humanitarian Law, as well as torture (paragaph 134).
Last but not least, one could at least expect some mention to the fact that, according to the report, one of the most prominent anti-government forces to gain relevance in this non-international armed conflict was “the Al-Nusrah Front for the People of the Levant, a group allegedly linked with Al-Qaida” (paragraph 30), especially considering that (a) the statement was delivered on the eve of September 11th and (b) not a day has gone by over the last 11 years without some White House spokesperson reminding us of the necessity to fight Al-Qaida – “smoke ‘em out” – wherever they happened to be hiding (Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia). And yet, not a word was uttered on that occasion.
It gets worse.
When the report was made available on 15 August, several NGOs cast doubts on its impartiality and objectivity, pointing to a number of procedural and methodological flaws; in particular, Italian activist Marinella Correggia spelled out several grey areas and omissions in the report, and she went as far as reaching numerous Member States’ missions in Geneva on the phone, urging them to approach the CoI report with caution. Needless to say, her words fell on deaf ears.
One is hopeful that this new Commission, with the added value of two new investigators of established credibility, Carla del Ponte and Vitit Muntarbhorn, as well as the mediation of Ladhkar Brahimi – when and if he comes up with a strategy – will avert the worst.
Absent a false flag op.