By Rachel Avraham
As we speak, the situation continues to deteriorate in Ukraine, with more than three million Ukrainians becoming refugees since Russia’s invasion of the Eastern European country began. However, so far, the Western countries, despite all of their bravado in favor of Ukraine, refuse to do more than send weapons and advisors to Ukraine, and impose crippling sanctions on Russia.
In light of this, the mullah’s in Tehran view the US government to be weak, prompting them to attack Erbil, the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan, during these volatile times. One of the missiles landed near the US Consulate. According to various reports, a couple of people were injured and one of the targets was utilized by the Israeli intelligence. However, America’s stance against Iran is even weaker than it is towards Ukraine, as the US has of yet to get out of the nuclear talks and impose the same level of crippling sanctions on Iran that it has imposed on Putin.
Following Iran’s attack on a number of targets in Erbil, international human rights activist Irina Tsukerman wrote an article, claiming: “This attack alone should make the Biden administration end attempts to revive the Iran nuclear deal. Iran has repeated these attacks many times and the silence of the international community in the face of these cowardly attacks will pave the way for their continuation.” Former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu concurred, claiming that it is “absurd” that the Iran talks are continuing after the Erbil attack.
Senior Adviser at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies Richard Goldberg urged Biden to convene an emergency meeting of the National Security Council “to assess available intelligence & consider a full range of military, cyber, economic & political responses, noting, “The Russian-brokered Iran Deal on the table in Vienna includes lifting terrorism sanctions on Iran’s central bank, oil company, tanker company, petrochemical company & many more alongside removing the IRGC from the FTO list. Tonight should be a death knell for this horrible deal.”
Hillel Neuer, who heads UN WATCH, recently tweeted that Putin dared to invade Ukraine and attack Erbil because “the US has no deterrence.” This is because their response to the atrocities committed by Russia are very weak, and their response towards Iran is even weaker. Yet, Biden’s weakness on Ukraine and Iran did not occur in a vacuum. For quite some time, the US has been turning the other way, as atrocities and crimes against humanity occur in various parts of the world.
William Antolis, who heads the Miller Center for Public Affairs, claimed: “On the day that Russia invaded, President Biden’s job approval among Americans was at 41 percent — near the lowest level of his presidency, down from the mid-60 percent ratings in his first months in office. The chaotic and rapid pull-out from Afghanistan had been the starting point for Biden’s rapid fall in popularity. Putin likely saw multiple signs of weakness in the U.S. withdrawal: a wounded Biden who did not have the stomach for war; a disorganized and naïve national security team who under-estimated the Taliban and over-estimated Afghan’s democratic leaders; and an American people who more broadly had lost interest in a foreign conflict.”
In other words, Biden’s disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan paved the way for Putin to attack Ukraine and Iran to attack near the US Consulate in Erbil. If America had a strong leader who did not shy away from standing up for the free world, then neither Putin nor the mullahs would have dared to do such things. However, it is also important to draw attention to Biden’s double standard. While his actions towards Ukraine are not strong enough, they are still not as weak as his stance on Iran, Syria, Afghanistan and other parts of the world. In the eyes of many Arabs, this is a sign of American racism.
In recent days, many Arab commentators are angered at how American journalists have covered the war in Ukraine, claiming that too many Americans care more about their plight than they care about Middle Easterners who are also refugees and suffered atrocities of a similar magnitude, if not worse.
According to MEMRI, Kuwaiti journalist Saadiah Mufarreh recently wrote, “The racism displayed by prominent Western media outlets in their coverage of the Russian invasion of Ukraine was open and blatant, which surprised many of those who follow this media and this war. Many reporters fell into this trap of racism that favors blond and blue-eyed people who look like pure Europeans. Most of them stuck to this racist attitude, while some later apologized in an attempt to quell the public outrage sparked by their statements.”
Apparently, Mufarreh is not without justification. CBS correspondent Charlie D’Agata said tearfully while discussing Ukraine, “This is a cultured European country. This is not Iraq or Afghanistan.” On the BBC, a Ukrainian man stated that what is happening in Ukraine is very emotional for him because the people Putin are killing “are European people with blue eyes and blond hair.” Daniel Hannan, a reporter for the British Telegraph, concurred: “What makes it so shocking is that Ukraine is a European country, with European people who watch Netflix and have Instagram accounts.”
Kelly Cobiella, a reporter on the American NBC, concurred regarding the Ukrainian refugees: ‘These are not refugees from Syria. These are refugees from neighboring Ukraine. These are Christians. They’re white. They’re similar to the people that live in Poland.”
Qatari journalist Jaber Mohammed Al-Marri proclaimed: “If you are a Muslim or someone from the Middle East or Africa, and you wonder why the world treats our spilled blood as though it was water… then you can find the answer to your question, whether you [actually] asked it or not, by following the coverage of and statements about the Russian invasion of Ukraine. These are their natural positions and reactions. This is how they regard the Arabs, the Muslims, the Middle Easterners, the Africans and the Asians. They regard us from a racist and arrogant perspective.”
The director of the Syrian Network for Human Rights, Fadel ‘Abd Al-Ghani, added: “The West employs a double standard, in that Ukraine interests it far more than Syria… The political interests of the Western states take precedence to human rights and international law… Imposing sanctions on Russia over its invasion of Ukraine is a standard move, anchored in international law… [But] this did not happen in Syria. The West did not impose any sanctions on Russia for the crimes it committed and is still committing in Syria, which shows that Syrian blood is unfortunately cheap… The West must act in Syria just as it acts in Ukraine, and Syrian civilians must be protected from Russia’s barbaric conduct and airstrikes, which have erased entire Syrian cities.”
Interestingly, US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan stated following the Erbil attack: “The United States condemns in the strongest terms Iran’s missile attack on the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. This attack targeted a civilian residence in Erbil, the Kurdistan Region’s capital city, without any justification. The United States stands with Prime Minister Kadhimi and the leaders of the Kurdistan Region, President Nechirvan Barzani, and Prime Minister Masrour Barzani, in condemning this assault on the sovereignty of Iraq and its Kurdistan region. We will support the Government of Iraq in holding Iran accountable, and we will support our partners throughout the Middle East in confronting similar threats from Iran. The United States of America stands behind the full sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity of Iraq.”
However, Biden himself has been deafly silent on the Erbil attack, while he himself was very outspoken against Putin. He did not relegate Ukraine statements to his advisors. He made sure to condemn Putin in person. This should highlight right here why many in the Middle East believe that Biden is employing double-standards, as if Kurds in Iraq are less worthy than white blue-eyed blond hair Ukrainians.