Guardian clashes with much of the Islamic world over U.S. military action in Syria

The likelihood that the Guardian would eventually publish an editorial opposing U.S. led military action in Syria in response to the regime’s use of chemical weapons to murder of hundreds of civilians, and that the op-ed would evoke the 2003 Iraq War, was something approaching an empirical certainty.

Sure enough, yesterday, Guardian editors launched their pre-emptive polemical attack against even limited Western military action: 


Here are the highlights from their editorial:

The West’s ‘war against Arabs and Muslims’

“After eight western interventions in Arab or Muslim countries in 15 years, sceptical generals and a hostile western public at large are entitled to answers.”

It’s about Iraq, stupid!

“Specifically in Syria, the most toxic and enduring element of the civil war – the sectarian battle between Sunnis and Shias – though a historic one, is a product of the way US forces used Shia militia when they first came under sustained attack from Sunni insurgents in Iraq. Syria is so intractable not just because of where it is, and who its neighbours are, but because the damage caused by such interventions is cumulative.”

Iran and Russia, the peacemakers:

“The return to Geneva [for peace talks] has to involve Russia and Iran, both of whom have acknowledged that chemical weapons have been used in Syria but blame their use on jihadi groups fighting on the rebel side

If the process of trying to prevent the use of chemical weapons in Syria was kept within the framework of the UN, or if, as the price of avoiding an airstrike, Iran could back the idea of a permanent UN presence in Syria monitoring Mr Assad’s stocks of chemical weapons, then a way back to the negotiating table could be found.”

Anyone familiar with Guardian editorials on the Middle East would surely recognize the narrative – a template for opposing military action in the Middle East which is employed seemingly regardless of the particular circumstances. 

Interestingly, however, especially in the context of the paper’s political sympathies towards the Arab and Muslim world, if you were to visit the homepage of The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) – which defines their group as representing “the collective voice of the Muslim world” – you’d see the following:


Here are highlights from their statement on Syria:

The General Secretariat of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) reiterated its condemnation of the dreadful attack on the suburb of the Syrian capital Damascus with internationally banned chemical weapons, inflicting a heavy loss of lives among civilians. 

The General Secretariat also stressed the need to hold the Syrian Government legally and morally accountable for this heinous crime and to bring its perpetrators to justice. It called on the Security Council to discharge its duty of preserving international security and stability, take a unified position against this monstrous crime and its perpetrators, and put an end to such violations, while reaffirming OIC’s consistent position on the preservation of Syria’s unity and stability. 

The General Secretariat indicated that this attack is a blatant affront to all religious and moral values and a deliberate disregard of international laws and norms, which requires a decisive action. 

The stance echoes an even more definitive resolution by the organization of Arab Gulf states (GCC), which earlier condemned the attack and called on the UN Security Council to authorize decisive action. 

Remarkably, such the positions suggest that much of the Arab and Muslim world doesn’t see a limited attack against Syrian military assets as representing an ‘attack against Muslims’, that they don’t give a damn what the Russians or Iranians think, and are not haunted by the fact that 10 years ago NATO forces launched a major war in Iraq and put an end to the regime of Saddam Hussein.

Whilst the motivations of Muslim and Arab states supporting Western intervention in Syria vary, they certainly aren’t paralyzed by the obtuse historical understanding and crippling ideology which informs a Guardian Left groupthink that surrenders to pacifism, if not cold indifference, in the face of even the most barbaric Muslim on Muslim violence in the MIddle East.

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