The well respected wire service The Media Line published a story today entitled “Syrian Airlines Expands Despite U.S. Sanctions”. The article explains how Syria has been avoiding US sanctions.
In realty, the purchase of those two French ATR planes was made possible because the White House did not object to the sale.
But what is more interesting is the tri-use of Syrian airplanes, two of which dictate the necessity for US sanctions.
The first use is the obvious one: Transport Syrian passengers.
The second one is known to many: Transport arms and weapons to and from Iran to Hezbollah.
But the third use is quite unknown to the general public.
To illustrate, few weeks ago, those of us following human rights closely, found out about the case of 250 Syrian Kurds who emigrated to Cyprus in the aftermath of the March 2004 uprising. In accordance with the EU refugee laws Cyprus adheres to, they had a 5-year waiting period until either the EU accepts them as refugees or rejects them without any reason. During the last 5 years, 250 people, which included 63 children lived in tents in Cyprus.
Cyprus, in early May, rejected their applications for no reason. So, the Kurds went on a hunger strike in front of the EU building for 25 days before Cyprus sent hundreds of troops to break their will and throw many of them in jails to await deportation.
During the legal process, the Kurds had hired a lawyer and respected the laws of the land by abiding by every rule Cyprus imposed upon them. There was no reason for Cyprus to deport them back to Syria knowing well that they will be either thrown in jail or mysteriously murdered.
On Saturday, they deported the first batch of 27 Kurds all back to Syria. Which airlines? You guessed it.
Accompanying the 27 Kurds, I was told, were several intelligence officers that were seen arriving and accompanying the Syrians from their prison location in Cyprus.
Assad uses the Syrian airlines to extend the tentacles of his oppressive regime and abuse of human rights.
Which brings us to another question: If Renditioning is the act of returning a citizen of one country to his native one for a short-term for the purpose of extracting information, why do we label sending the refugees back, including children, for long-term jail sentences and even death deportation? It is worse than Renditioning because one is justified, under the extreme circumstances following 9/11, but the other is inhuman under the best of circumstances. The Kurds that were seeking refugee status in Cyprus did so to escape the very circumstances Cyprus was forcing them to endure.
I am happy to say that Cyprus, through divine interference by some courageous lawmakers as well as an effective campaign of lobbying and demonstrations in European Capitals, revoked its order. The Kurds have 10 days to appeal their status. One which we hope will grant them dignity and pride.
Meanwhile, for those who believe sanctions against Assad should be lifted or that the Iraq war was unnecessary, beware of what you wish for: More immigration of Arabs and Muslims from their native oppressive lands to Europe.