By Abderrazak Belbouah
By Abderrazak Belbouah
On Saturday, August 31, 2013 the U.N. Spokesman Martin Nesirky announced at a press briefing the end of the U.N. chemical inspection mission in Ghouta and the beginning of laboratory analysis of the gathered evidence. The spokesman pointed out that the analysis of the samples and the translation of testimonies will take some time before the publishing of the final report.
Further, he succinctly briefed to the delight and the pride of the organization about the bravery of the U.N. inspection team, who had carried out the field investigation successfully despite the challenges and risks. Among these, he mentioned the possibility of being attacked by fighters of the party not wanting the investigators to proceed through the mission as it is internationally planned. This was the case as the U.N. cars were intentionally shot at on one occasion by unknown snipers, which did, in fact, cause the delay of the inspection for hours during the first day.
While the spokesman seemed to be very convincingly responding to the questions of journalists, he was obviously unable to justify how and why the U.N. investigation only intended to determine whether chemicals were used in Ghouta or not. In other words, he avoided discussing the reasons for which Ban Ki-Moon has not expanded the mission to investigate the party that was behind the attack. The only response he could invoke, reiteratively though, was that the mandate does not allow it because the U.N. General Assembly has limited the inspection to only target the use of chemicals, not the using parties.
As such, the United Nations, as an international organization responsible for encouraging transparency, which is critical for creating the stability and security of nations, has once more revealed how it is failing its mission.
As a matter of fact, the use of chemical weapons in Syria does not need the deployment of a whole team to prove it, for reports from the region say a lot more than the international community needs to know about the lamentable incident.
In fact, there is literally, no state, no matter where it stands from the Syrian debacle that has doubted the usage of chemicals in Ghouta. Even the newly elected Iranian president Hassan Rouhani was reported to “completely and strongly condemn the use of chemical weapons in Syria” recommending that the U.N. “use all its might” to deter any further attacks. The Russians themselves added “considerable weight to international calls to determine exactly what happened in the Damascus suburbs,” and overtly confessed the use of chemicals.
So, if the international community concurrently corroborates the chemical attacks, investigating it by the U.N. must be redundant and useless. And by failing to address the real issue, the U.N. is, as usual, falling short in fulfilling its responsibilities; a regrettable truth that marks the continuity of its serial failures as a peacekeeping organization.
Then, why has the U.N. not issued a mandate that allows investigating responsibility for the chemical usage?
One answer to the question could be the conviction of Ban Ki-Moon that no U.N. inspector could have walked through Eastern Ghouta if the the mission was to investigate who was responsible for the attack. Worth mentioning is that the U.N. team was waiting in Cyprus for months and was allowed to Syria only after it has accepted the title of ‘U.N. investigators’ not that of ‘U.N. inspectors’. So, for the U.N. officials, investigating the use of chemical arms is way better than doing nothing even if what is doing is just for appearances and to appear relevant, especially after the failure of Lakhdar Al-Ibrahimi’s mission.
Also, it might be that Ban Ki-Moon still believes in the availability of peaceful resolutions to the problem, because if the report happens to blame any party, war shall be inevitable with or without the consent of the Security Council. The stand of the British Parliament rejecting military intervention in Syria corroborates this claim. Most undoubtedly, their decision could have been just the opposite were the U.N. to blame, mainly, the Syrian Regime for the chemical weapons. Hence, the U.N., which is theoretically a liberal body that prioritizes peace, has given a chance and some hope for a negotiated resolution to take place in Geneva II.
Finally, the decision makers of the U.N. are aware that the process to investigate who is behind the attack shall take months if not years before a final a conclusion is reached. This could never be untrue bearing in mind that only the analysis of physical evidence to prove the use of chemicals will take up to three weeks, according to some UN diplomats. Menawhile, the longer the U.N. investigation takes, the less credible and convincing its reaction, if it has enough power to coerce one, will be. Simultaneously, the Syrian state and its allies will use the time the investigations take as a pretext to deter the international community from taking action.
The U.N. has not issued a comprehensive mandate that includes, in addition to proving the use of chemicals in Syria, investigating the party behind the attacks because it lacks the will, tools and logistics to assume full responsibility.
Needless to reiterate that no matter what party is found to be responsible, the international community shall, still, disagree on punishing the guilty. Then, any decision will have to be taken out of the U.N.
So, Ban Ki-Moon has chosen to play the safe side and, consequently, given the West the green light to play whatever card they see fit to their immediate strategic interests without giving a moral pretext for Al Assad and his allies to justify their cause. Unfortunately, war is on top of these cards.
Abderrazzak Belbouah is a teacher of English in Rabat, Morocco. He holds a His bachelor’s degree, which he obtained at, on applied linguistics from Ibn Tofail University in Kenitra – Morocco. He also holds a Master’s degree in International Relations and Conflict Resolution from the American Public University – School of Security and Global Studies in Virginia. This explains his interest in the current intra-state and interstate security and peace issues, mainly in the Arab Islamic World. He is also author of a number of short stories and articles.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Morocco World News’ editorial policy
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