Indian Advocate to ST: President Bashar al Assad unflinchingly stood for the defense of Syria

Indian Advocate Niloufer Bhagwat has made it clear that the US administration has failed for the second time to prevent the holding of the Syrian Presidential elections due  to  the resistance of the Syrian people , their unity, extraordinary courage and determination to stand behind the leadership of President Bashar al Assad, who  unflinchingly stood for the defense of Syria as a nation and civilization  President. 
 
She told Syria Times e-newspaper in an interview conducted via e-mail: "During my visit  to  Syria in 2016 what amazed me was  the capacity of the Syrian  people to bravely carry on with their lives, despite the state of siege, and  the destruction and the inhuman nature of the terrorist assault on the civilian population  ,apart from  the attacks on  the Syrian armed forces.  President Bashar al Assad, led  by example in word and deed . The  role of the Syrian armed forces and the people has been  heroic."
 
Bhagwat, who occupies the position of Vice President of the Indian Association of Lawyers in Mumbai, asserted that the victory of President Al-Assad in 2021 presidential elections was not surprising as President Al-Assad stood by the Syrian people and never left the country throughout the war on Syria. 
 
"Syrians living in many European countries and in North America  were not permitted by these governments to vote in the elections at the Syrian embassies ,in a feeble  attempt to question the validity of the elections. Their  propaganda has not succeeded. Today President Assad  is acknowledged as one of the steadfast , courageous and wise leaders of the region and the world, an example to other heads of state," she added.
 
The advocate referred to the fact that the  Indian government has had cordial relations with the government of Syria headed by President Al-Assad; however the Indian response to the election of President Al- Assad is muted  in view of the Indian government’s close ties with Washington, London and Tel Aviv, which limits its capacity for independent diplomatic initiatives, as is reflected in its not voting in the  UN Human Rights Council on the issue of a Commission  Inquiry into Israeli War Crimes and atrocities and exploitation of the Palestinian people .
 
Indian diplomacy
 
"Indian diplomacy is impacted by major Indian Corporate Sector houses and the Indian  Oligarchs, who are members of US and British Foundations, and think tanks such as the Rand Corporation and the Council on Foreign Relations among others , as these Oligarchs are indebted to and financially dependent on investments from US Tech Companies and other US  Corporations , Western Banks and financial institutions including London City and France  among other European Banks and Corporations  to whom they are indebted for investment and contracts ,  including to  their  armament Corporations for whom some  of the  Corporate Oligarchs  are agents," she emphasized. 
 
Bhagwat went on to say: "The well heeled non- Resident Indians in the USA and Indian headed Companies in the United States and London  have an increasing influence on Indian foreign policy . Israel also influences Indian diplomatic decisions, as  Israeli  Security  and Tech Companies assist the present government in India in extensive internet  surveillance of  India’s citizens and  India’s internal and external strategy and security. In view of these realities India despite good relations with Iran over decades, has had to fall in line and forego beneficial trade agreements with Iran and even earlier a proposed Iran- Pakistan-India  gas pipeline which would have been a lifeline for Indian industry and energy."
 
She underscored that  India has failed to adequately  leverage the good will it enjoyed in the Middle East and in Central Asia due to its close proximity to the US,  Britain and Israel. 
 
"When I was in Lebanon in 2018 in a town  near the Israeli-Lebanon border on  the Litani river , I was informed by local people that Mahatma Gandhi’s  photograph was installed  in their homes because of his outstanding moral and political stature and his unconditional support for the Palestinians and opposition to the settlement of outsiders on Palestinian territory when the policy of Zionist colonization of Palestine first  began to be implemented by Britain . The policy makers in India are indifferent to the  changes taking place in the Middle East with the decline of US military and economic dominance in the region." 
 
Sanctions 
 
Moreover, Bhagwat stressed that sanctions are a declaration of war  through financial and economic policy. 
 
"With reference to the illegality of the unilateral imposition of sanctions, it should be understood that  the UN Charter and  International Conventions are not the only source of International Law . A large part of International law is what is  known as Customary International law,  legal practices which have evolved from the customary practices and norms adopted by states in their  economic , military , diplomatic and other interactions over centuries  to promote a mutually accepted civilized international system in the interests of all states , governments and peoples." 
 
"A large body of International Law, which has also  evolved, is  known as International Humanitarian law, which prohibits policies and  practices which violate International  Human Rights Charters and Conventions signed and ratified by most states including the United States   and   policies which adversely impact the civilian population in times of war. International Law prohibits harm being caused to the civilian population of countries even during war  . One  of the purported justifications for the WTO advanced by the Western countries  and  the rounds of trade negotiations between states,  was to prevent  any state from violating trade , economic and financial agreements between nations by resorting to policies which would amount to unfair economic means, adversely affecting fair competition  and fair trade relations  with the objective that all countries have a right to  economic development as per resolutions of the General Assembly."
 
She argued that unilateral  Sanctions imposed by one country or a group of countries   are wholly illegal .
 
"The  only exception provided  in the UN Charter is when economic measures are permitted under Chapter VII  against a country by a Resolution of the Security Council if it poses a threat to peace . 
 
Resolutions of the Security Council on Iraq and North Korea were wholly in violation of the UN Charter as Iraq devastated and defeated by the First Gulf War was no threat to peace and had no weapons of mass destruction . Neither was North Korea a threat , as US military contingents based in South Korea and the US war ships and nuclear submarines operating in and around the Korean peninsula  are the real threat to the peace of the Korean peninsula. It is necessary to emphasize that as early as 2001 ,  the then   President of the United States George Bush ( Jr) officially pronounced  that all the six  countries of the ‘Axis of Evil ‘were  militarily targeted ,  this  included Syria , Iran and North Korea  which is the real reason these countries are illegally targeted by unfair sanctions to wage war against them by other means."
 
The advocate explained that the reason behind absence of an article in the UN Charter or in any International Convention specifically prohibiting sanctions is the fact that the unilateral  use of sanctions by any country or group of countries  to impact civilian populations and governments  has  never been contemplated by the UN Charter . It  now  known all over the world which states pose a threat to peace and security  and these belligerent powers have lost the moral high ground despite their propaganda apparatus in the global corporate media.
 
"Israel has over decades posed a serious  threat to the peace and  security of the Middle East and adjacent countries like Iran , yet the Security Council has not imposed by Resolution  any sanctions on Israel, which is protected by  powerful governments in the Security Council," she affirmed. 
 
Bhagwat referred to the fact that the abuse of the UN by the superpowers commenced in a bigger way after  the capitulation of the USSR  during the tenures of President  Gorbachev and  President Yeltsin, and after US advisers controlled the policies of  Russia during the period of neoliberal economic reforms  and  earlier  when the  China entered into agreements  for close strategic and economic cooperation with the US and  European powers , with  major US and European Transnational Companies shifting  their manufacturing base to China in consideration for China not opposing the military and strategic interests of the United States around the world. 
 
She in addition indicated that the importance of the Middle East for US policy is related to  the hydrocarbon resources of the region.
 
"To retain the dollar as the global reserve currency despite the massive debt of the US economy, it was necessary to politically and militarily control every oil producing country in the Middle East and adjacent regions and to  dominate those countries with strategic potential for hydrocarbon pipelines. This  is the real reason for the wars waged against the countries in the Middle East by the United States," she concluded. 
 
Interviewed by: Basma Qaddour
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