Brooks Newmark was MP for Braintree 2005-2015, and is studying at the Centre for International Studies and St Antony’s College at Oxford University.
Bashar al-Assad and Vladimir Putin are pursuing a scorched earth policy in Aleppo and trying to bomb the population into submission. Boris Johnson is right to call for an investigation into war crimes following the recent bombing of a humanitarian aid convoy.
As bunker busters, chlorine gas and barrel bombs rain down on Aleppo, the United Nations continues to wring its hands while Barack Obama stubbornly continues to stick his head in the sand. We are witnessing a slow-motion genocide and ethnic cleansing of the Sunni population in Syria. If Bill Clinton’s legacy was overshadowed by the tragedy of Rwanda. Obama’s will be over shadowed by the tragedy currently unfolding in Syria.
During the past five years, according to the Syrian Network for Human Rights based in London, Assad (aided and abetted by Putin) has been responsible for over 95 per cent of the almost 400,000 civilian deaths. Yes, you read that correctly: 95 per cent. Daesh is responsible for 0.8 per cent. But the West is focused on Daesh. Following a series of bombings in European capitals, we see Daesh as the enemy and have responded accordingly with a series of effective attacks on Daesh stongholds in Syria and Iraq. But if one looks at what is going on in Syria through the eyes of Syrians themselves, Assad is the real terrorist. Indeed, today Assad is the biggest terrorist in Syria, in the Middle East and in the world.
The latest charge against the UN has come from doctors working in Aleppo itself. Holding a bloodstained UN flag, they claim that “the pure blood that is being shed in Aleppo is the responsibility of this flag.’ But, as in Rwanda, the UN’s hands seem to be tied - this time by Russia, which sits on the security council and is the prime suspect in the latest bombings.
At Sunday’s emergency meeting of the UN Security Council, Vitaly Churkin – the country’s Ambassador and Putin’s mouthpiece – continued to deny Russia’s role in bombing the humanitarian aid convoy in Aleppo. But shrapnel evidence, including the tail fin of a Russian fragmentation bomb, indicates otherwise. Indeed, Samantha Power, the US Ambassador went so far as to say that “what Russia is sponsoring and doing is not counter-terrorism. It is barbarism.’ Matthew Rycroft, our Ambassador, went further, saying that “it is difficult to deny that Russia is partnering with the Syrian regime to carry out war crimes.”
John McCain and Lindsay Graham’s recently observed that “President Obama’s Syria policy continues to offer gruesome proof of Einstein’s definition of insanity: doing the same things over and over again and expecting different results.” The same could be said of the UN’s strategy.
The two senators are asking how many hospitals, markets, schools, playgrounds and humanitarian aid convoys Russian and Syrian regime aircraft have to bomb before we realize that Putin and Assad are not interested in stopping the violence. They want to win the war, and the West’s and the UN’s in action is helping them.
The basic rules of negotiation dictate that “diplomacy in the absence of leverage is a recipe for failure”. The UN is both unable and incapable of taking the necessary action. Therefore, as with Bosnia over 20 years ago, it will be up to NATO to enforce a No Fly Zone to allow humanitarian assistance into Aleppo. Until that time, the slaughter of the innocents will continue on the ground – and we will continue to post pictures of young children bloodied and broken and, with the UN, wring our hands and weep.