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Monday, September 19, 2016

Power: War crimes okay in Yemen, Gaza, not Syria

Supreme arrogance.

These are some of the descriptors social media used to describe US Ambassador Samantha Power's breathtaking performance at the UN Saturday evening in a Russian-called emergency session of the UN Security Council to mull a US airstrike on Syrian Army positions killing 80 near Deir Ezzor airport Saturday.

The strike shattered a 'cessation of hostilities' agreement struck up by the US, Russia and Syria last week and violated another key component of ongoing cooperation, that is, the US would abandon it's regime change strategy and refrain from targeting the Syrian Army, instead focusing on the shared objective of destroying ISIS.

"The United States promised the Syrian government that the airstrikes would not affect the position of the Syrian armed forces," said Russian Federation Envoy Vitaly Churkin in a tense presser after the special called session adjourned.

Calling the strikes highly suspicious, both in timing and tactics, Churkin adding, "That did not put the US fully in line with international law because the Syrian government did not grant permission...but the fact the US committed not to strike the position of the Syrian government created certain conditions for cooperation."

Conditions allowing the US, Syria and Russia to focus on a shared enemy: Daesh, or ISIS.

While lamenting a lack of transparency and resistance to fully cooperating with Russia, Churkin noted the US failure to delineate between "moderate" forces it alleges to support and those associated with terrorism such as Jabhat al nusra.

The inability of the US to control these numerous"moderate" militia forces was also a point of concern for Churkin, who noted at least 20 of these groups had declared they would not honor the ceasefire.
"The big question is, who is in charge? Is it the White House or the Pentagon? Because we have heard statements from the Pentagon that simply fly in the face statements we've heard from President Obama and Sec. Kerry.  This is not accidental...the genie is out of the bottle, it appears they (Americans) have lost control of the situation."
Particularly noteworthy was Sam Power's chastisement of Russia, which dominated all but the first 60 seconds of her 13 minutes of comments.

Absolutely non-plussed and flippant at the Russian temerity to call attention to the US' unilateral ceasefire violation and return to attacking Syria - which emboldened ISIS to seize back the territory - Power was incorrigible, coming off as more of an inconvenienced mall rat than a global dignitary.

"Seriously? And they're calling this emergency meeting. Really?" Powers flung her hair back in disdain at the very thought of Russia's "stunt".

Powers was convinced the press conference was called as a distraction to what she termed "what's really going on", in other words, the press conference, not the "errant" bombing, was the item most worthy of  outrage.

A notorious neocon - she supported Hillary Clinton's interest in regime change in Libya - Power went on to embarrass herself further, chastising the Russian Federation for being overly-concerned with US war crimes and insufficiently concerned with those of the Syrian regime, wading into a mire of hypocrisy Ambassador Churkin said he had not seen in his 40 years of dealing with the Americans.

"Some of the most systematic atrocities we have seen in a generation yet, in the face of none of these atrocities has Russia expressed outrage, much less called for an emergency Saturday night consultation in the security council on any of these practices."

Power elucidated: "Not only are they not interested in seeing these crimes investigated, they have used their veto on the security council to block meaningful action...have self-adopted some of the regimes worst practices. Hitting hospitals, hitting refuge camps, hitting markets. Seriously…they’re calling this emergency meeting?"

Curious to mention the UNSC veto, a favorite tool of the US to shield investigation and sanction of Israeli war crimes in the West Bank and Gaza.

But Power would not be deterred Indicating Russia would do better looking after its barbaric proxy in Syria, rather than calling attention to US breaking agreements and bombing the wrong side.

But her next quip did her in.
Imagine how often this council would be meeting if we were to gather every time the regime or Russia struck a hospital or a school or a bread line...
Goodness, lets see, if we include the US and the Saudi regimes' bloodbath in Yemen, the council had better clear its calendar.

Perhaps inconveniently for Power, the Guardian detailed the ongoing US-backed Saudi assault quite thoroughly just the day before the US bombed the Syrian Army, blanketing deaf ears with what may soon rival Syria for scale of civilian targeting and displacement.

  • More than one-third of all Saudi-led air raids on Yemen have hit civilian sites, such as school buildings, hospitals, markets, mosques and economic infrastructure, according to the most comprehensive survey of the conflict.
  • The independent and non-partisan survey, based on open-source data, including research on the ground, records more than 8,600 air attacks between March 2015, when the Saudi-led campaign began, and the end of August this year. 
  • Over the course of the war, the survey lists 942 attacks on residential areas, 114 on markets, 34 on mosques, 147 on school buildings, 26 on universities and 378 on transport.
  • Saudi Arabia intervened in March 2015 to support the Yemeni government against Iran-backed Houthi rebels in control of the capital, Sana’a. The UN has put the death toll of the 18-month war at more than 10,000, with 3,799 of them being civilians.
And the commensurate outrage and influence Power proposes Russia exert over Syria is wholly missing from the US/Saudi joint effort in Yemen. Indeed, nothing much has changed since Obama blew off a Saudi strike that took out a wedding party of 70 civilians last year.
In almost every case (of civilian targeting), the Saudi coalition has either denied responsibility for the killings or blamed Houthi militants. Saudi Arabia has also sought to head off a mission to Yemen by human rights investigators with the United Nations who would look into violations by all the warring parties.”
The Obama administration, which has supported the Saudi war effort by providing intelligence and logistical support, has avoided any direct public rebuke of the Saudis, while calling on coalition planners to investigate reports of civilian casualties.

As much as Power rightly cast shade Assad's way, it appears the US made a habit of breaking the promise of "precision strikes" massacring at least eight wedding parties from 2001 through 2013, according to this Nation piece reporting on what was believed to be the first wedding attack in Yemen.
...this is at least the eighth wedding party reported wiped out, totally or in part, since the Afghan War began, and it extends the extermination of wedding celebrants from the air to a third country—six destroyed in Afghanistan, one in Iraq, and now the first in Yemen. And in all those years, reporters covering these “incidents” never seem to notice that similar events had occurred previously.  
Sometimes whole wedding parties were slaughtered, sometimes just the bride or groom’s parties were hit. Estimated total dead from the eight incidents: almost 300 Afghans, Iraqis and Yemenis. And keep in mind that, in these years, weddings haven’t been the only rites hit. US air power has struck gatherings ranging from funerals to a baby-naming ceremony.
Power is no stranger to getting bloody herself. This April her speeding motorcade made quick work of a 7-Year old child in Mokolo, Camaroon. Power offered the equivalent of $1,700, flour, soap, and two cows as compensation: a show of  "deep regret" that had many of us echoing the ambassador's refrain,  "Really?"

While the good Ambassador Power may delight in her juvenile disdain for the Russian's and their proxy slaughters, she seems to have a gift for pulling it off with remarkable hubris in keeping with the State's broad reliance on the "memory hole" of history.

The rest of us may resist the urge to weep. Or vomit.

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