The bombings and shootings in Paris last night should be condemned unreservedly. There isn’t a shred of justification for the murder of over 120 innocent people by the fascists of ISIS.
However, as the article from New Matilda in Australia makes clear, our grief should not be selective. 47 people died in twin suicide bombings in Beirut this week and there was no outpouring of grief. Likewise over 100 people died in Ankara last month at a Kurdish peace rally. Again there was little reaction.
|Two explosions outside football match|
|Demonstration in Turkish Kurdish areas against the Ankara bombings are tear gassed|
But it goes further than that. The West has condoned, if not supported, the maintenance of a rear base in Turkey by Isis. The Turkish state, for whom the Kurdish PKK and PYD are the main enemy, has deliberately supported Isis, allowed its fighters and supporters to cross the border, allowed its trade in oil and other materials from Turkey to Syria whilst doing its best to prevent support for the Kurds in Syria to reach its intended target.
|The aftermath of the Ankara bombing by the Turkish state and ISIS|
NATO has specifically supported the Turkish attack on the Kurds, even though the Kurds are the only effective ground fighters against Isis, as even the United States has had to accept. Even worse, the USA has supported, via its Saudi and Gulf clients, the supply of weaponry to a variety of Jihadist groups in Lebanon, including the al-Qaeda group Al Nusra and similar groups.
|Erdogan's Ankara bombings|
Our own BBC is, not unnaturally, party to this cover-up. In How the BBC Erased All Trace of Saudi Support for Al Qaeda in Syria I cited Glenn Greenwald as showing that the Saudi claim that it was not supplying al-Nusra (al Qaeda) but only Jaish al-Fatah (Army of Conquest) was a complete lie since al-Nusra is the main component of the Army of Conquest. When this was pointed out to the BBC, since it is common knowledge, (even The Telegraph, in an early October article complaining that Russia was bombing “non-ISIL rebels,” noted that the Army of Conquest “includes a number of Islamist groups, most powerful among them Ahrar al-Sham and Jabhat al-Nusra” and even the CIA station Voice of America noted that “Russia’s main target has been the Army of Conquest, an alliance of insurgent groups that includes the al-Nusra Front, al-Qaida’s affiliate in Syria, and the hard-line Islamist group Ahrar al-Sham, as well as some less extreme Islamist groups.”
|trio embrace after Bataclan concert hall bombing in Paris|
What did the BBC do? It simply edited out all mention of The Army of Conquest Gulf Arabs 'stepping up' arms supplies to Syrian rebels stating that ‘The well-placed official, who asked not to be named, said (that) … those groups being supplied did not include either Islamic State (IS) or al-Nusra Front, both of which are proscribed terrorist organisations. Instead, he said the weapons would go to the Free Syrian Army and other small rebel groups.’ If you look at the small correction at the bottom of the article it says ‘
|Aftermath of Ankara bombings|
Isis in Iraq: Why Tikrit remains a ghost town two months after its liberation from militant fighters
It is the West’s ‘peace keeping’ starting with the invasion of Iraq that caused the situation whereby Isis have grown in strength and now been able to mount a co-ordinated attack in the heart of Paris. Those who, like Britain’s moronic Defence Minister, Michael Fallon, believe it is 'Morally indefensible' not to bomb IS in Syria’ http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-34742361 need their heads examined.
|Police clash with protestors over Ankara bombing|
The West has been complicit in supporting the ‘moderate’ Islamists of al-Qaeda and Ahrar al-Sham in Syria. That is why the ‘moderates’ of the Free Syrian Army were resurrected when Russia started bombing the Jihadists. Regardless of whether one supports Russia’s intervention, the fact is that Russia has had more success in one month than the US has had in over a year of bombing, breaking the year long siege on Kweyris airbase near Aleppo last week. That is what has caused the panic in the West, not least in Turkey and with Erdogan, whose plans to invade Syria and attack the Kurds have had to be shelved.
The fruit of the West’s duplicity was played out last night in Paris and in Beirut last week and in Ankara last month.
As France enters yet another period of mourning, Lebanon is just emerging from one. Not that you probably heard anything about it. Chris Graham reports.
|The Eiffel Tower|
If you didn’t know better, you could be excused for believing that the planning behind the latest terrorist attack in Paris is about more than just causing widespread death and fear in the West.
It looks like it’s also designed to highlight our selective outrage.
|France Paris Shooting|
Overnight, dozens of people have been confirmed dead in a series of coordinated attacks in Paris.
News sites have fired up live blogs. Serious news Channels such as Sky are providing blanket 24-hour coverage of the event, and, as with all things tragedy, media are competing with each other for scoops and gory videos.
World leaders are also out in force, condemning the attacks. Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull held a press conference in Berlin a short time ago, after sending out this message of solidarity with the French people.
|injured man carried by rescue workers Paris|
Australians’ thoughts, prayers & resolute solidarity with people of France as they respond to brutal terrorist attacks in Paris tonight.
— Malcolm Turnbull (@TurnbullMalcolm) November 14, 2015
He was joined by his Foreign Minister Julie Bishop.
We stand in solidarity with people of France in condemning horrific terrorist attacks – my press conference: https://t.co/WQI7m65ic6 — Julie Bishop (@JulieBishopMP) November 14, 2015
Labor’s Tanya Plibersek also tweeted in support.
Terrible news coming out of Paris. My thoughts are with the people of France.
— Tanya Plibersek (@tanya_plibersek) November 13, 2015
French president Francois Hollande has declared a national State of Emergency, and closed its borders.
|inside football stadium|
Meanwhile, in a brown part of the world, as the attacks began in Paris, Lebanon was just emerging from a National Day of Mourning, after 43 people were killed and 200 more were injured during a series of coordinated suicide bombings in Beirut.
The attacks – for which ISIS has reportedly claimed responsibility – occurred in the southern Beirut suburb of Burj al-Barajneh, a predominantly Shia community which supports the Hezbollah movement. Not counting Israel’s assaults on Lebanon, the slaughters represent the deadliest bombings in Beirut since the Lebanese civil war ended more than two decades ago.
Like suspicions around the attacks in France, the bombings in Beirut are believed to be in response to Hezbollah’s decision in recent weeks to send in troops to support efforts in northern Syria against Islamic State.
But the bombings in Lebanon drew no tweet from Malcolm Turnbull, no social media statement from Barack Obama, no live media blogs from Western media, no wall-to-wall media coverage. And no twitter hashtags from Australians in solidarity with the Lebanese.
|People crowd onto football pitch|
It’s a curious state of affairs, when you consider that there are around three times as many people of Lebanese descent living in Australian, compared to French nationals.
You’d think if we were able to identify with anyone, it would be with Lebanese Australians – after all, so many of them are among the most beloved in this nation, and have contributed enormously to public life.
Marie Bashir – perhaps the most admired Australian governor in history – is the child of Lebanese immigrants. Her husband, Nick Shehadie is as well – he’s the former Lord Mayor of Sydney, and a member of the Australian Rugby Union Hall of Fame.
|shooting Paris outside cafe|
Queensland parliamentarian Bob Katter has Lebanese roots. Former premier of Victoria, Steve Bracks does as well. One of the most loved rugby league stars of all time is Hazem El Masri. Benny Elias’ parents come from Lebanon. So do Robbie Farah’s.
In the AFL there’s Milham Hanna and Bachar Houli, and the current coach of the Australian Wallabies, Michael Cheika, is of Lebanese descent.
|site of twin suicide bombing in Burj al Barajneh, Beirut|
The Lebanese contribution to Australian business has also been immense – John Symond, the founder of Aussie Home Loans has Lebanese heritage. Jacques Nasser is the former CEO of Ford Motors in Australia. Ron Bakir of Crazy Ron’s mobile phones was born in Lebanon, and migrated to Australia.
There have, of course, been many great contributions by Australians with French heritage – commentator Richie Benaud, actress Cate Blanchett, businessman Robert Champion de Crespigny, politician Greg Combet, and the iconic AFL star Ron Cazaly.
But how do we explain our identification with French suffering and our apparent indifference to Lebanese suffering? Or more to the point, how do we explain our indifference to the suffering of people we perceive as different, Lebanese, African, Hazara, Muslim…. Brown people.
The sad reality is, Australia has been here before, and just 11 months ago. A few days before the Charlie Hebdo massacre, terrorist organisation Boko Haram razed the town of Baja in Nigeria, killing more than 2,000 people.
|street in Beirut where bomb went off nr market|
The world’s media – and most of its politicians – were mostly silent. Last month, at least another 30 people were killed in another attack on Nigerian mosques by Boko Haram.
That followed 10 people killed in a coordinated attack near the Maiduguri Airport, again by Boko Haram.
In Islamabad Pakistan, at least 20 people were killed in a suicide attack on minority Shias. That came a day after 12 were killed in an attack on another Shia shrine, this time in the province of Balochistan.
It is the Shia who were manning many of the boats that we turned away a few years ago, as sectarian violence reached unspeakable levels in towns like Quetta in Pakistan. When the Pakistani Taliban targeted the Hazara community in Quetta in September 2010 at the Meezan Chowk (a market in the middle of the city), they managed to kill at least 73 people and injure 160 more. In the background of the bloody carnage is a billboard sponsored by the Australian Government, warning Hazaras against the dangers of getting on a boat to come to Australia.
The Meezan Chouk attack in Quetta, In September 2010. In the background is a billboard sponsored by the Australian Government, warning locals of the danger of getting on a boat to seek asylum.
In September, at least 117 people were killed at a mosque in Nigeria, again at the hands of Boko Haram. The simple fact is, Muslims are far more likely to die at the hands of other Muslims – or more to the point, Islamic extremists who bear no resemblance to average Muslims. They’re also more likely to be killed by Westerners, who are seeking to kill Islamic extremists. The difference is, they’re unlikely to see an outpouring of grief in Australia, or most of the rest of the world. But unlike Parisians, they already live in a state of perpetual terror. That’s why many of them have fled the Middle East for Europe, a reality which prompted this tweet this morning from American movie star Rob Lowe, a man who adequately sums up the outrage and frustration of white bigots everywhere.
The sad reality is that these attacks will increase. You can’t stop five or eight people with a gun and a twisted ideology, just as you can’t stop an American or Australian military with a commercial, strategic and political interest in slaughter.
Westerners are finally being given just a small taste of the constant fear that people from other nations have endured for generations. So solidarity with, and compassion for, the French is a good thing.
But solidarity and compassion for the victims of terrorism everywhere is even better, in particular those who’ve fallen victim to the terrorism sponsored in all our names.