Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Humanitarian Aid or "Humanitarian Bombs"?; Pope Francis initiates interfaith, global "Prayer for Peace for Syria"

Zainah Ismail lives in a tented settlement with 3 families in Lebanon. 
We used to hear hear extremely loud sounds from bombs and firing.” 
(Photo: Luca Sola, Oxfam: Don't let Syria down: Join the call for Syria Peace Talks now)

As a result of the prolonged civil war between the Syrian government and al Qaeda-affiliated rebels, four million Syrians have fled their homes to safer parts of the country. Two million Syrians have take refuge in neighboring countries. Iraqi refugees (who left their country for Syria because of over a decade of US bombing) are now trying to return to Iraq.  However, Iraq and Turkey have set limits on the number of Syrians allowed to enter their borders.

If the Obama administration bombs Syria as "punishment", fewer Syrians will be able to escape the escalation in violence that will ensue. Many Syrian Christians say they fear becoming victims of the same kind of targeted violence that accompanied the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003.

At the start of Syrian conflict in March 2011, many members of Syrian minorities supported the movement for reform and more political freedoms. But the movement was hijacked by violent, radicalized members of Syria's Sunni majority and foreign jihadists (trained, armed, and paid by Saudi Arabia, Qatar, France, UK and the US).   The interests funding these mercenaries want to use the rebellion to destabilize and overthrow the Assad government, for selfish aims.

 There has been no evidence hat the Syrian government was responsible for the chemical attack that took the lives of hundreds of civilians.

David Swanson, quoting a friend who works in humanitarian aid, questions how US bombing will help Syrians  in "Who the Missiles Will Hurt" at
"Before we contemplate military strikes against the Syrian regime, we would do well to carefully consider what impact such strikes would have on our ongoing humanitarian programs...These programs currently reach hundreds of thousands of vulnerable people throughout Syria, in areas controlled both by the regime and the opposition.  We know from past military interventions, such as in Yugoslavia and Iraq, that airstrikes launched for humanitarian reasons often result in the unintended deaths of many civilians.  The destruction of roads, bridges, and other infrastructure, which such airstrikes may entail, would significantly hamper the delivery of humanitarian aid in Syria.

"The provision of this assistance in regime controlled areas requires the agreement, and in many cases the cooperation, of the Asad government.  Were the Asad regime, in response to U.S. military operations, to suspend this cooperation, and prohibit the UN and Nongovernmental Organizations from operating in territory under its control, hundreds of thousands of Syrian civilians would be denied access to food, shelter, and medical care.  In such a scenario, we would be sacrificing programs of proven effectiveness in helping the people of Syria, in favor of ill considered actions that may or may not prevent the future use of chemical weapons, or otherwise contribute to U.S. objectives in any meaningful way."

In other words, the U.S. government is not just considering investing in missile strikes rather than diplomacy or actual aid, but in the process it could very well cut off what aid programs exist and have funding.  Humanitarian war grows more grotesque the more closely one examines it.
A nonviolent (and humanitarian) alternative to bombing and supporting rebel militias (largely comprised of radical Islamists and al Qaeda members, according to McClatchy and other media outlets): Call for an immediate ceasefire and the immediate ban of supplying arms to either the Syrian government or the rebels; close the borders to arms traders; remove foreign fighters from Syria; and spend the money the Obama administration would like to use for bombing on humanitarian assistance for refugees.


Since the end of the Second World War, Washington has bombed one third of the world in the name of "democracy", "humanitarian" interventions, and  "peace." These bombings have never achieved professed aims. Instead they have only resulted in millions of deaths and injuries of innocent civilians; cancer and genetic mutations from nuclear radiation, Agent Orange, and depleted uranium; untold destruction; heartbreak and trauma for generations. 

China 1945-1946
Korea and China 1950-53
Guatemala 1954
Indonesia 1958
Cuba 1959-1961
Guatemala 1960
Belgian Congo 1964 
Laos 1964-73
Vietnam 1961-73
Cambodia 1969-70

Artwork  in Vientiane, Laos depicting a cluster bomb discharging "bombies", submunitions
(each contain enough explosive and shrapnel to kill or injure a roomful of people).

"For Laos, the secret war goes on." "Land of the Bomb" photo series by Andrew McConnell

Guatemala 1967-69
Grenada 1983
Lebanon 1983, 1984 
Syria, 1983, 1984
Libya 1986
El Salvador 1980s
Nicaragua 1980s
Iran 1987
Panama 1989
Iraq 1991 (Persian Gulf War)
Kuwait 1991
Somalia 1993
Bosnia 1994, 1995
Sudan 1998
Afghanistan 1998
Yugoslavia 1999
Yemen 2002
Iraq 1991-2003 (US/UK on regular basis)
Iraq 2003...

2013: Ten year anniversary of "Shock and Awe" 
The United Nations estimates that  2.2 million Iraqis have fled Iraq since 2003, 
with 100,000 fleeing to Syria and Jordan each month between 2003 and 2006.  
The civil war in Syria has forced tens of thousands of people to seek shelter in Iraq,
including Iraqi refugees who fled there after the U.S.-led invasion. 

We are dealing with a psychopathic situation. And all of us, including myself, we can’t do anything but keep being reasonable, keep saying what needs to be said. But that doesn’t seem to help the situation, because, of course, as we know, after Iraq, there’s been Libya, there’s Syria, and the rhetoric of, you know, democracy versus radical Islam. When you look at the countries that were attacked, none of them were Wahhabi Islamic fundamentalist countries. Those ones are supported, financed by the U.S., so there is a real collusion between radical Islam and capitalism. What is going on is really a different kind of battle.

And today, you have the Democrats bombing Pakistan, destroying that country, too. So, just in this last decade, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria—all these countries have been—have been shattered.

- Arundhati Roy, "Iraq War’s 10th: Bush May Be Gone, But "Psychosis" of U.S. Foreign Policy Prevails", Democracy Now

Afghanistan 2001-present

"11 Afghan Children Among Dead in Latest US/NATO Bombing: 
Civilians 'killed when an air strike hit their houses' 
(Photo: Common Dreams via Reuters, April 7, 2013)

Pakistan 2004-present

(Story and 2006 Photo: The Bureau of Investigative Journalism, July 22, 2013)

Somalia, 2011
Libya 2011
Yemen 2013

Pope Francis has called for an interfaith, non-sectarian (including non-believers) Day of Prayer for peace for Syria to be held worldwide on September 7 from 19:00 to midnight:
May the cry for peace ring out loud around the world...Never has the use of violence brought peace in its wake...
The Grand Mufti of Syria, Ahmad Badreddin Hassou, spiritual leader of the majority Sunni  in Syria is instructing his community to "welcome the appeal that the Pope extended to all religions to pray for peace" in all Syrian mosques during the Saturday vigil. 

Gregory III Laham, Melkite Greek - Catholic Patriarch of Antioch, of all the East, of Alexandria and Jerusalem announced that all parishes of the Greek Melkite Church in the Middle East and around the world have  begun preparations to respond to prayer initiative." "In Syria, we will keep our churches open until midnight to allow everyone (Catholics, Orthodox and Muslims) to pray." For Gregory III , the spiritual closeness of Francis and the Church is central to all the Syrian people - Christian and Muslim - who without support are likely to lose hope. 

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