Don't attack Syria

Letter to Mark Lazarowicz MP (Edinburgh North and Leith), sent in advance of the debate to be held in parliament on 29 August

I would ask you to vote against the proposed military attack on Syria.

I do not see how bombing civilians with cruise missiles can help. As Professor of Law Marjorie Cohn has pointed out: “For the United States to threaten to and/or launch a military strike as a reprisal is a blatant violation of the United Nations Charter. The Charter requires countries to settle their international disputes peacefully.”

She also argues that: `The self-righteousness of the United States about the alleged use of chemical weapons by Assad is hypocritical. The United States used napalm and employed massive amounts of chemical weapons in the form of Agent Orange in Vietnam, which continues to affect countless people over many generations. In Iraq and Afghanistan, the United States used cluster bombs, depleted uranium, and white phosphorous gas. Cluster bomb canisters contain tiny bomblets, which can spread over a vast area. Unexploded cluster bombs are frequently picked up by children and explode, resulting in serious injury or death. Depleted uranium (DU) weapons spread high levels of radiation over vast areas of land. In Iraq, there has been a sharp increase in Leukemia and birth defects, probably due to DU. `

I would like to point out the following:

There is absolutely no evidence or confirmation that the Assad government carried out the alleged chemical attack.

United Nations weapons inspectors are in Syria at the direct REQUEST of the Syrian government to prove that they have not used chemical weapons. The attack took place a mere ten miles away from the inspection team, on the very day they arrived.

Carla Del Ponte, a United Nations Human Rights investigator, has stated that the Syrian government has not used chemical weapons but the rebels have.

In May, 12 members of the Syrian rebel forces were arrested in Turkey. The rebels possessed 4.5 pounds of Sarin, the neurotoxin gas alleged to have been used in the recent attack.

The US and British governments have a long history of fabricating incidents to justify attacks on other countries. One need only think of the "babies thrown from incubators" stories that filled the TV news in the run up to the first Gulf War in 1991, were proven to be totally false.

The U.S. invasion and occupation of Afghanistan was justified in the name of fighting a "war on terror" after Sept.11. None of the people who allegedly carried out the 9/11 attacks had any connections with Afghanistan or its government.

The U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003 was based on reports of "weapons of mass destruction" and "chemical and biological weapons." After the U.S. invaded, killing thousands of innocent people, it was proven that Iraq never had any such weapons.

The U.S. intervention in Libya was justified with claims of genocide and rape. Now that the Libyan government has been overthrown and thousands innocent Libyans killed, many of these reports have also been thoroughly discredited.

The US and British governments seem to care little about human rights in Saudi Arabia or Bahrain where the dictatorships are under Western control.

The aftermath of the attack on Iraq has been a disaster for the country. Only today (Wednesday 28th August) more than 50 people have died in suicide bombings – which did not happen pre-invasion. Casualty figures released by the United Nations showed 1,057 Iraqis - most of them civilians - were killed in July this year. The electricity and water supplies have not been properly restored a whole decade after the attack. Baghdad only receives 3 hours electricity a day.

I believe that the real reason for this proposed attack on Syria is to further isolate Iran and may be a precursor to an attack on that country. I would caution that such an attack would have horrendous consequences for the region and would lead to inevitable blowback against Western countries.

What Syria needs is a peace conference and humanitarian aid for the more than one million refugees created by a civil war fuelled by Western supplies for the disparate rebel groups.

Yours Sincerely,
Paul O’Hanlon


Photo: Edinburgh Stop the War Coalition
Demonstration outside the US Consulate, Edinburgh, September 2013