State Department Tries to Explain Difference Between Russian, US-Backed War Crimes
As we asked rhetorically yesterday, how Kerry can accuse Russia of committing war crimes in Syria with a straight face is unclear, as reports of atrocious crimes committed in Yemen continue to surface.
It seems AP‘s Matt Lee questioned this hypocrisy also. Watch the back and forth below:
As The Independent reports, a US government spokesperson has struggled to answer questions put to him on why the US condemns Russian bombing in Syria, and supports Saudi-led bombing in Yemen, both of which have killed thousands of civilians.
“During a media briefing in Washington DC on Tuesday, State Department spokesperson John Kirby was asked repeatedly about whether Saudi coalition bombing of Houthi rebels in Sanaa – facilitated by US arms sales to the Gulf state – deliberately targets civilian infrastructure.
“’Over the weekend there was this air strike on a funeral by the Saudi-led coalition,’ Matt Lee of the Associated Press asked. ‘I was just wondering: does the administration see any difference between this kind of thing, and what you accuse the Russians, Syrians and the Iranians of doing in Syria, and particularly Aleppo?’
“Mr Kirby struggled to answer the question, pointing out that the Kingdom has launched an investigation into how the funeral hall was hit, whereas nothing of the sort has been carried out by the Syrian or Russian governments, which he accused of deliberately causing harm to civilians.
“Russia did call for an investigation into the bombing of an aid convoy near Aleppo on September 19th, which contributed to the suspension of talks on Syria between Washington and Moscow.
“Mr Lee, the AP’s diplomatic correspondent, continued to hold Mr Kirby’s feet to the fire on the Yemeni issue, pressing him for an answer on how “an increasing number of Yemeni civilians are at risk and being killed by weapons that the United States has furnished to the Saudis and their coalition partners.”
“’You don’t find any kind of issue with this? Because a lot of people do, including on [Capitol] Hill,’ he added.
“Mr Kirby said that the situation was very different in Syria and Yemen, pointing out that Iranian-supplied Houthi rockets have killed Saudi citizens in recent months.
“’The Saudi-led coalition were invited in by the Yemeni government – now I know what you’re going to say, the Russians were invited by [Syrian President] Assad… but [the Saudis] are under real threat on their side of the border in that war,’ he said.”
But as Anti-Media‘s Darius Shahtahmasebi details, it’s not just some of the better-informed US press corps that is angry at this utter hypocrisy… Russia’s Foreign Affairs spokesperson, Maria Zakharova, lost her cool in response to a Western journalist who asked her the question: “Why is Russia supporting Assad, who is killing civilians?”
Apparently, one should remind themselves that American bombs, which have been launched in at least ten Muslim countries since 1980, do not kill civilians. Ever.
If they do, these are mere accidents – always.
And more often than not, the civilians were probably doing something bad, anyway, or they wouldn’t have been on the receiving end of American missiles.
Despite these glaring contradictions in the journalist’s question, Zakharova focused more on the failures of the parties involved to bring peace to Syria. Her response provides us with some valuable insight into why the Syrian peace process continues to fail. It also raises some very critical questions and points for consideration.
“This is the crux of the issue – let’s sit down and agree which groups are terrorists, and which ones are not. Let’s begin to work together. What other way is there? Tell me. You want us to just exit Syria? Pack up and leave the terrorists there? That is not a way out. I am not going to repeat just how many UN Security Council documents and resolutions there are that call to fight against terrorism. And Al-Nusra is a terrorist group! [as per the UN list].”
Washington and its allies would undoubtedly welcome a scenario in which Russia would be forced to abandon the Syrian regime. This could explain John Kerry’s recent statements that Russia should be investigated for war crimes, something the U.S. would never inflict upon itself despite its military ventures in an overwhelming number of sovereign nations.
“Leaving is not an option for us because everyone now understands that something has to be done in order to curb this terror threat. This is the crux of the issue. And of course we understand that armed conflict is taking place and we see that the civilian population is suffering, there is no question about that. But this is why we created the center for cooperation with the U.S., so that we could work and decide together.”
Zakharova then proceeded to tell the journalist the real reasons behind the failing of the peace process in Syria — from Russia’s point of view:
“There are parties that continually stop the US and Russia from working together on this matter. Despite arrangements in place for this to happen, they still got their way to ensure this did not happen. This does not mean that positions can’t change tomorrow – but today it is advantageous for these parties to have interrupted this dialogue between US and Russia.
“This is the crux of the issue. And one more thing – the main message that [Western] mainstream media is delivering is that ‘the Russian air force is killing Syrian civilians.’ Or the Syrian army is doing that with the help of the Russian air force.”
Zakharova apparently took issue with the fact the U.S. coalition has been in Syria longer than Russia has yet only Russia gets lambasted regularly by the corporate media.
“One more question – 2 years ago, what on earth did the American coalition proceed to do there?
“You know, if the civilians were not in danger, what were you doing there? Well, they were in danger, and the Americans went there, in their words, to help them. Do you understand that you can’t be selective and look at things in isolation? We have to agree that the civilian population is suffering, the blockade, the hostages and they are surrounded by al-Nusra. So let’s sit down and agree together, where are the civilians and where are the terror groups? And work together.”
However — and this is where Zakharova’s response becomes incredibly insightful — the Minister actually designates two parties that have blocked the Syrian peace process from moving forward. Zakharova does not name them directly, but there are only a handful of countries she could be referencing, making this an issue worthy of investigation:
“This is the work that we are being stopped from doing. The talks on Syria are about to begin again – but everyone understands that the two rotating member countries (from the UN Security Council) have a decisive capability and they are blocking our progress. This is because we have finally approached the crux of the problem – al-Nusra.
“Al-Nusra are the new mujahideen. Do you understand this concept? Go and read some history – research how al-Qaeda came to be. It’s exactly the same thing. Point by point, it is exactly the same. The financing; the moral and ideological support. And what did your relationship with the mujahideen cause? It created al-Qaeda. And al-Qaeda – you all know what that is.
“So you can’t simplify [isolated events] like this, you have to understand what caused it. You can’t logically follow mainstream [garbage] ‘Russia is killing everyone and everyone is trying to stop Russia.’ This is rubbish.”
Zakharova doesn’t let the journalist off lightly – nor Western media in general. Zakharova’s frustration, felt by many of us who are trying to follow the Syrian conflict as accurately as possible, is that the simplification of these issues, taken out of their historical context, presents a threat to the advancement of the human race. Without understanding why events are unfolding the way they are, the American people and the people of the world could be led down a dangerous path and would be none the wiser.
“I’m very sorry for my expression but – such simplification means that [Western] stupidity is more dangerous than the threat itself. And when simplification of this scale happens in [Western] mainstream media, I think this is more scary than terrorism itself. Simplify everything to the extreme, and only show it from one angle it might work in.”
No one can morally justify potential Russian war crimes. However, the evidence continues to demonstrate that one side of the conflict has refused to cooperate pragmatically in Syria and has instead continued a number of policies that have merely exacerbated the conflict.
If the U.S. were truly committed to fighting terrorism, they would work with Russia to determine which groups should be designated terror groups and which ones should be off-limits. So far they have not. Apparently, striking Syrian soldierswho are battling ISIS militants is a much more worthwhile venture – so worthwhile it seems that the U.S. wants to do it again.
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We are reminded of Glenn Greenwald’s clear tweet on the matter…
3 rules of US Exceptionalism: 1) Our killing is better than theirs; 2) Nothing we do can be “terrorism”; 3) Only enemies are “war criminals”
— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) October 6, 2016
This is not to say Russia and Syria should not be investigated for war crimes – but maybe, just maybe, we could live in a world where everyone responsible for committing these gross acts could be held accountable, instead of just those who pose an economic threat to the West.