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Syria's "false flag' terrorism, Houla and the United Nations

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The UN report did blame armed anti-government groups for some crimes but came in much more strongly against the Syrian government, relying on the formal duties of government to "prevent or punish' violence, as well as not commit it (HRC2012: 23).

 

However the problem here in attempting to blame the government, when the perpetrators had not been properly identified, was not simply the risk of error. This course may have appeased the big powers, which had set themselves against the Syrian Government. The more serious risk -- if they were in fact wrong -- was that the UN would directly encourage more "false flag' terrorism.

 

The bias in the UN commission's approach to investigation did not go unobserved. Not only was there tremendous pressure from premature statements by UN officials (Secretary General Ban Ki Mon had regularly attacked the Syrian Government) and Security Council members, the Commission was relying mainly on opposition sources, helpfully organised by the US funded exile groups, for its sources.

 

In late May Italian anti-war activist Marinella Corregia asked UN Commissioner for Human Rights, Rupert Colville, what sources his group was using to investigate the Houla killings and this exchange followed:

"MC: So which witness sources do you have and how did you speak with them?

RC: Our local network, whom we spoke on the phone. I cannot say more; I have to protect them " Our local contacts in Syria say they were Shabbiya. Try to be less cynical.

MC: But no doubt from your side? It seems that many of the children were from Alawite pro-government families"

RC: We are asking for an investigation. I don't say we are certain.' (Valiente 2012)

 

The second report on the UN's inquiry, released on 15 August, firmed up on the pro-Government militia (Shabiha) line.   The UN report said:

"The commission conducted eight additional interviews, including with six witnesses from the Taldou area, two of whom were survivors " Forty-seven interviews from various sources were considered by the commission. Interviews were consistent in their depiction of events and their description of the perpetrators as Government forces and Shabiha. Apart from two witnesses in the Government report, no other account supported the Government's version of events' (HRC 2012: 10),

i.e., that FSA groups had committed the murders. The problem is, numbers of interviews mean little if the selection process has been poisoned by bias.

 

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Tim Anderson is an academic and social activist based in Sydney, Australia
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