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Fifteen Pictures About Damascus Today: A Massacre in Syria and Chemical Warfare

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In the hours just before dawn neighborhoods outside Damascus got cloaked in a grey mist of chemical agents that delivered a deadly payload and killed scores of innocent Syrian people.

We don’t yet know definitively who set off this inhumane attack, but we can surmise that whoever was behind it is able to strategically command a coordinated attack during precisely those hours when the world is still.  We know that whoever committed this atrocity has at hand the delivery systems that are required in these turns at murder. We know that the attack was committed on rebel-held territory and we know that the rebels are reported to have begun a successful offensive to take back real estate they’d lost to the Assad regime.  We know that the leaders of Russia and China are bending over backwards, as if they were simply bending twigs and leaves, to insist that, indeed, it was the rebels who attacked innocent civilians–a false flag operation, you see- to suggest in a strategic feint that, no, no, the Assad regime is murdering its own people.

The Assad regime is murdering its own people.

We should surmise that it was the Assad regime backed military that set off this attack. We should surmise that the Assad regime will forestall any attempt by the U.N. to investigate the site of this attack. And we should surmise, we should know that this will be the final tell that the regime has just committed chemical warfare  against a civilian population in a scale not seen since Saddam Hussein used chemical weapons against the Kurdish people, his own people, in the town of Halabja in 1988.

As Syria tears itself apart its undone citizens have begun to stream out to neighboring Iraq and Jordan. This civil war is taking its toll not only as a political crisis and its consequences, but also a humanitarian crisis, a refugee crisis. The spillovers from those subsequent crises have yet to register. And, anyhow, there seems to be no end in sight to these overtaking, crushing crises.  So, most of us, comfortable at home, all we can do is bear witness to inhumanity at its peaking best.

Syria is not a signatory to the Chemical Weapons Convention, sure. But this attack today was a war crime and somehow there has to be some accounting for it. Now, the Convention commits signatory nations to protecting civilians within countries affected by chemical weapons.  There’s been a lot of talk in the United Nations Security Council today that this move is unacceptable (as if prior moves by the regime were somehow acceptable, or a bit more generously, a bit more acceptable?) but that talk is nothing more than the bravado of the impotent.

Now, the Obama Administration is sure to ramp up its aid to the rebels after this news. It should ramp up civilian aid as well. After all, gas masks in every hand, in every other hand could have saved a lot of innocent lives today.

I’m just not certain things will turn out that way.



Faheem Haider
Faheem Haider

Faheem Haider is a political analyst, writer and artist. He holds advanced research degrees in political economy, political theory and the political economy of development from the London School of Economics and Political Science and New York University. He also studied political psychology at Columbia University. During long stints away from his beloved Washington Square Park, he studied peace and conflict resolution and French history and European politics at the American University in Washington DC and the University of Paris, respectively.

Faheem has research expertise in democratic theory and the political economy of democracy in South Asia. In whatever time he has to spare, Faheem paints, writes, and edits his own blog on the photographic image and its relationship to the political narrative of fascist, liberal and progressivist art.

That work and associated writing can be found at the following link:

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