This article is a translation of "‘Vredesorganisatie PAX’ wil nòg een Afghanistan, nòg een Irak, nòg een Libië"
In the Dutch newspaper, de Volkskrant, of 27 August last, Marjolein Wijninckx, program leader at PAX (the newspaper writes ‘peace organisation PAX’) that it is high time for the West to intervene militarily against… Assad.
The morning that the usually well-informed Antiwar.com runs a report that ISIS units for the first time have penetrated into a quarter of Damascus, one realises what an enormity it is to write these lines.
Russia has been trying the last months to get the secular (non-jihadist) opposition against Assad to participate in negotiations and also has had talks with Saudi-Arabia, the source of finance for al-Qaeda and the Syrian branch, al-Nusra, in the hope to get the Saudis involved. For as more and more jihadists join ISIS, any form of restraint on the part of Saudi Arabia (and Turkey and the Gulf states) is positive when it comes to achieving a ceasefire in Syria and prevent a catastrophe.
Just when we have entered this critical stage ‘peace organisation PAX’ (I can’t get myself to not use quotation marks, because this is the world upside down) comes with the proposal to impose a no-fly zone.
How many countries must be set on fire before we can expect any reconsideration on the part of ‘peace organisation PAX’?
In Libya, the most direct example of a no-fly zone imposed under the auspices of the UN to protect the civilian population against the Gaddafi regime, it turned out in practice that NATO served as the air force for the jihadists who were after Gaddafi.
The result? The country has disintegrated into several areas ruled by militias, including jihadists, and ISIS meanwhile has gained a foothold in Libya too. There are two official governments. Migrants from sub-Sahara Africa who in Gaddafi’s days had residence permits and jobs in Libya, were being persecuted on account of their colour and joined the many refugees trying to cross the Mediterranean to Europe.
With Gaddafi out of the way, the agreements about this migration route too expired. But Sarkozy was in a hurry, because Gaddafi had paid his election campaign and threatened to make that public. The US and Britain had both oil and strategic interests.
I won’t speak about the role that Gaddafi played in resisting an American command for Africa, AFRICOM, meant to both provide security for energy sources in West Africa and push back Chinese influence. Because otherwise it easily gets too difficult for ‘peace organisation PAX’.
Because if someone can write without blinking that ‘Syrian organisations, united in the Clear-the-Sky initiative, argue in favour of a no-fly zone to stop Assad’s attacks on civilians’, this is not just a matter of opinion but primarily a matter of real ignorance and inability to learn anything, even remotely, from Western policy in the recent period.
After reading it over twice I still don’t see any passages that prompt a rethink on the situation in Syria, on the contrary. The only questions that remain concern the status of ‘peace organisation’. Because this is plain war propaganda, with a simultaneous waving away of the vast risks illustrated in all their dimensions by recent history.
Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the Gulf states, with Israel as a silent partner, are trying to bring down Assad to destroy the strong, authoritarian state there—and then we’ll see. I won’t go into the sloppy reference to Bosnia in the piece by Marjolein Wijninckx, which is to a high degree a ‘cookies for Sarajevo’ argument and like that campaign, dependent on absence of any real knowledge of the situation. But even there I was struck, leafing through the Dutch government’s Srebrenica Report, that already at that time it was the Saudi’s who were behind the pro-Muslim policy of the Clinton administration. And then too, ‘peace organisation PAX’ was in favour of NATO intervention and they still are.
We have kicked in the door in Libya and then walked away. An now Syria? What remains of Iraq? What will happen in Afghanistan after the NATO debacle?
We of O≠O also approached ‘peace organisation PAX’ to support the manifesto against raising the Dutch defence budget, but the answer was no. After reading this newspaper piece the explanation of that ‘no’ is somewhat clearer again: ‘peace organisation PAX’ is in favour of NATO interventions and refers to that in reply to our request.
Yet the connection with those who are for raising defence expenditure also transpires from the intellectual quality of this piece, because it is equally clumsy as the defence-expenditure document that we wrote our manifesto against.
For attacking Assad now (‘protecting Syrian citizens’) ‘can reduce the attractiveness of groups like IS. That will not only prove the best strategy against IS, but also against the refugee crisis.’ And that is written at the moment ISIS troops have penetrated actual Damascus.
Kees van der Pijl