Flat White

Assad did it, not Putin

15 April 2018

7:28 PM

15 April 2018

7:28 PM

Last week’s chemical attack on dozens of his citizens – including children – has elicited no outrage from President Bashir al-Assad of Syria. His response is denial, which would carry a modicum of credibility if he had also condemned the attack as illegal and barbaric.

I would argue that his response is that of the lying perpetrator, not the leader of a traumatised, brutalised, poisoned people.

A twitter account maintained by Assad’s office showed a video of him walking nonchalantly to work through the halls of the Syrian presidential palace a few hours after the air strikes against his chemical weapons. Even then, with another opportunity to condemn the chemical attack, he just swaggered.

Which leads me to declare my first ever disagreement with Ross Cameron’s international commentary. On Sunday’s Outsiders Cameron vehemently attacked the Trump coalition (only his second disagreement with the Donald) for laying the blame at Assad’s feet, without the concrete evidence he, Cameron, felt was required for such a strike.

Someone in a comment on the story asked why would Assad poison his own people. Well, for one thing, he’s shooting them, isn’t he? And for another, a chemical attack carries a higher terror factor and can do more damage than a gun – especially as Assad’s military is said to be degraded in numbers and weaponry.

Cameron has a similarly contrarian view regarding the accusations that official Russia was responsible for the March 4 poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in the English city of Salisbury. And on that point, I agree with Cameron, for all the reasons he has articulated.

And before I am accused of double standards by not requiring Vladimir Putin to condemn the poisoning, it should be noted that the chemical attack was perpetrated on innocent civilians while the poisoning was of a Russian double agent, with whose fate Putin is not expected to sympathise.

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