Editorial: If anyone deserves a Nobel Peace Prize, it is Syria’s White Helmets

BRAVEHEARTS: Syrian rescue workers called The White Helmets carry the injured following regime airstrikes in Aleppo. (AP)
Updated 07 October 2016
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Editorial: If anyone deserves a Nobel Peace Prize, it is Syria’s White Helmets

Wars are never a pretty sight. They tend to bring out the worst in humanity. The ongoing catastrophe in Syria since 2011 is no different. Over the past five years, we have seen it all — a brutal regime which has responded with bullets, barrel bombs and biological weapons to the legitimate demands of peaceful protesters who sought nothing more than to live decently, free from fear and be able to choose their leadership that is meant to be a republic.
We have seen the regime unleash monsters from its prisons, monsters who eventually became leaders of what is — probably — the most atrocious bunch of thugs humanity has ever seen, a terrorist organization by the name of Daesh. Not only did these criminals hijack the people’s peaceful protests and turn them militant, they also hijacked a whole religion and claimed a caliphate (or should we say a caliph-HATE) in its name.
Daesh has confiscated lands, raped women, tortured children, killed the elderly, burned people alive and recorded, broadcasted all of their above-mentioned crimes. Meanwhile, the regime sought to convince the international community that it is not the villain, but the victim. Unsurprisingly, the Assad regime was — and remains — backed by the world’s biggest state sponsor of terrorism, Iran.
The situation worsened for the crushed Syrian people when the world’s biggest superpower, the United States, failed to honor its word upon declaring that using chemical weapons is a red line. This not only encouraged Assad to carry on with his crimes, but also paved the way for a full-fledged and unprecedented Russian intervention in the region — an intervention that was not as much in support of the Syrian regime as it was to settle scores with Washington.
With the death toll estimated to exceed 400,000, and with millions of displaced Syrian refugees with no real hope of ever coming back home or resuming their normal life, the situation could not be any gloomier.
Yet, they say the night is darkest just before the dawn. While we all pray for the end of this ugly war, there is a glimpse of hope in The White Helmets — a group of around 3,000 local volunteers who are truly redefining the meaning of sacrifice, courage and patriotism.
Once normal citizens who were students, engineers, merchants or farmers, The White Helmets have taken it upon themselves to rush toward bombed sites and do what they can to pull out survivors left shocked and injured. Given the ongoing onslaught, one can only imagine how busy — and dangerous — the lives of these self-appointed rescuers can be.
As the Nobel Committee prepares to announce this year’s Peace Prize, Arab News joins everyone around the world who have signed an online petition in support of The White Helmets’ rightful nomination.
Furthermore, to everyone who has shed a tear, tweeted with anger, or wondered how they could help upon seeing the heartbreaking images of young Aylan Kurdi who drowned last year trying to escape this hell, or those of Omran Daqneesh who survived a recent airstrike and lives to most probably die another day, this is your chance to do something:
Go to https://nobelpeaceprize.whitehelmets.org/en and join us in backing The White Helmets.


Editorial: Iran must not go unpunished

Updated 16 May 2019
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Editorial: Iran must not go unpunished

  • Arab News argues that while war is always a last resort, an international response is a must to curb Iranian meddling
  • US strikes worked well when Assad used chemical weapons against his people

The attacks on Tuesday by armed drones on Saudi oil-pumping stations, and two days beforehand on oil tankers off the coast of Fujairah in the UAE, represent a serious escalation on the part of Iran and its proxies, should the initial conclusions of an international investigation prove to be accurate. 

Riyadh has constantly warned world leaders of the dangers that Iran poses, not only to Saudi Arabia and the region, but also to the entire world. This is something former President Obama did not realize until the Iran-backed Houthis attacked the US Navy three times in late 2016. The recent attacks on oil tankers and oil pipelines were aimed at subverting the world economy by hitting directly at the lifeline of today’s world of commerce. Tehran should not get away with any more intimidation, or be allowed to threaten global stability. 

It was in 2008 that the late King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz called upon the US to “cut off the head of the snake,” in reference to the malign activities of Iran. Nearly a decade later, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman referred to Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei as the “new Hitler of the Middle East.” We are in 2019 and Iran continues to wreak havoc in the region, both directly and through its well armed proxies. Crown Prince Mohammed was therefore clearly correct when he argued that appeasement does not work with the Iranian regime, just as it did not work with Hitler. The next logical step — in this newspaper’s view — should be surgical strikes. The US has set a precedent, and it had a telling effect: The Trump strikes on Syria when the Assad regime used Sarin gas against its people.

We argue this because it is clear that sanctions are not sending the right message. If the Iranian regime were not too used to getting away with their crimes, they would have taken up the offer from President Trump to get on the phone and call him in order to reach a deal that would be in the best interests of the Iranian people themselves. As the two recent attacks indicate, the Iranians insist on disrupting the flow of energy around the world, putting the lives of babies in incubators at risk, threatening hospitals and airports, attacking civilian ships and putting innocent lives in danger. As the case always is with the Iranian leadership, they bury their heads in the sand and pretend that they have done nothing. Nevertheless, investigations indicate that they were behind the attack on our brothers in the UAE while their Houthi militias targeted the Saudi pipelines.

Our point of view is that they must be hit hard. They need to be shown that the circumstances are now different. We call for a decisive, punitive reaction to what happened so that Iran knows that every single move they make will have consequences. The time has come for Iran not only to curb its nuclear weapon ambitions — again in the world’s interest — but also for the world to ensure that they do not have the means to support their terror networks across the region. 

We respect the wise and calm approach of politicians and diplomats calling for investigations to be completed and all other options to be exhausted before heading to war. In the considered view of this newspaper, there has to be deterrent and punitive action in order for Iran to know that no sinister act will go unpunished; that action, in our opinion, should be a calculated surgical strike.