Arab Lives Matter – OpEd


By Faisal J. Abbas*

If what the US-coalition spokesperson told Arab News is true, then the Iraqi government should immediately launch an investigation into what happened in Daquq.

The US-led coalition has denied responsibility for the airstrike that — a few days ago — killed 15 women at a Shiite shrine in Daquq, near the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk. In a statement the coalition said it has “determined definitively” that it “didn’t conduct the airstrike with reported civilian casualties in Daquq.”

The US position was further reiterated in an interview this newspaper did with coalition spokesperson Col. John Dorrian, who has revealed that the US is in touch with the Iraqi forces to see if it is one of their jets that waged the attack.

Of course, this US denial comes on the heels of an immediate accusation against Washington by both the Russians and Iran’s state-media of carrying out the said attack. Yet, it is not surprising that the US has said it had nothing to do with this awful incident.

Iranian propaganda on the side, the reality is Washington has no interest whatsoever in intentionally targeting places of worship or any civilian gathering. The same applies to the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen, which had announced — following an internal review — that “misinformation” was behind the unfortunate attack on a funeral hall in Sanaa (Riyadh has regretted the incident and offered compensation and aid to the families of the victims).

Of course, mistakes do happen and wars were — and will always be — ugly; again, one can’t reiterate enough that at the end of the day any life lost (be it Sunni, Shiite, Christian, Jewish or other) is a life too many.
However, this is exactly why the international community and concerned citizens worldwide shouldn’t tolerate the increasing number of “unaccounted for” attacks anymore… particularly in the Arab world!

For too long — and especially in Syria — war criminals have gotten away with atrocities such as the airstrike which targeted the Aleppo home of the now famous “Syrian boy in the ambulance,” Omran Daqneesh, last August.
Yet, unlike how the Saudi-led coalition immediately investigated the incident in Sanaa and how the Pentagon reviewed the Shiite shrine attack in Iraq; it remains officially “unknown” who has been attacking the homes, playgrounds, hospitals and schools of the millions of innocent Syrian children since 2011.

State of denial

In fact, murderers — and their supporters — are now so used to getting away with their crimes that President Assad has the audacity to recently appear in a television interview to claim that the horrific images of Omran were forged.

This of course isn’t surprising, coming from the same person who has denied that barrel bombing is occurring and whose state-run media runs travel and tourism campaigns insinuating that Syria is a safe-haven “unlike how the western media is portraying it.”

There are many reasons for the phenomenon of unaccounted for attacks. The US coalition — for instance — probably limits itself to either confirming or denying its own responsibility, rather than issuing a statement backed by satellite imagery or evidence which they may possess to avoid incriminating others and causing a diplomatic crisis.

The UN has its own issues and for similar reasons, seems not to upset anyone when superpowers are involved. In the meantime, innocent Syrians and Iraqis continue to suffer after the rules of engagement in their countries have changed from avoiding civilians to deliberately targeting them.

What doesn’t help is that very few of our countries are willing — or have the means — to do what is necessary diplomatically and/or militarily to show that Arab lives matter.

However, if what the US-coalition spokesperson told Arab News is true, then the Iraqi government should immediately launch a full and public investigation into what happened in Daquq, and for the perpetrators to be held accountable, whether the attack was intended or was a result of a mistake.

*Faisal J. Abbas is the editor in chief of Arab News. He can be reached on Twitter @FaisalJAbbas

Arab News

Arab News is Saudi Arabia's first English-language newspaper. It was founded in 1975 by Hisham and Mohammed Ali Hafiz. Today, it is one of 29 publications produced by Saudi Research & Publishing Company (SRPC), a subsidiary of Saudi Research & Marketing Group (SRMG).

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