US Killing Terrorists is Vital. Punishing War Criminals Crucial Too

Donald Trump is in the fourth year of his presidential term and he has already claimed two big scalps. Just over a month after announcing a US operation in Afghanistan-Pakistan region that killed Hamza bin Laden, al-Qaeda’s Osama bin Laden’s son, Trump laid claim to yet another wanted man on Sunday.

In a nationally-televised address at the White House that went on for 48 minutes, President Trump made an elaborated speech that revealed a US-led raid that killed the ideological leader of the Islamic State, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. Trump said that the 48-year-old killed himself and three children by detonating a suicide vest in a dead-end tunnel, just as the US forces closed in on him.

“He was a sick and depraved man, and now he’s gone,” Trump declared in his dramatic address. “He died like a dog, he died like a coward.”

The world was quick to praise the United States and its president, calling it a “turning point” in a global war against terrorism. However, the announcement of Baghdadi’s death has also succeeded in highlighting Trump’s contrasting strategy around the issue of terrorism.

While the US undertakes missions to eliminate terrorists who pose global threat, it also seemingly turns a blind eye to the countries wreaking havoc on innocent human lives. There is not much difference between terrorists and those causing humanitarian crisis on unprecedented scale.

“The world is a much safer place,” Trump had stated on Sunday. People in Yemen and Libya would beg to differ.

The US president is not supporting terrorism. He is clearly against everything that terrorists and their organisations stand for and has put the US at the forefront of war against terrorism. But, just as terrorism costs human lives, so does civil wars. Viewing casualties from different lenses will always be looked at cynically.

Tens of thousands of innocent lives have been lost and millions displaced at the hands of war-mongers in Yemen. There is acute shortage of food and medical supplies. Saudi Arabia, the UAE and their allies have been bombing Yemen for the past four years. It’s an unwinnable conflict, but the Arab bloc has come too far in its campaign. There is no turning back now.

The US is a proud ally of the bloc and has consistently supplied weapons to Saudi Arabia. It receives billions of dollars in return. In its pursuit to further strengthen its economy, the US is failing itself and the world at large.

The US-supplied weapons were also used in a series of Saudi-led coalition’s deadly attacks on civilians last year, including the one on school bus that killed 40 children. In 2017, the Associated Press reported a story funded by the Pulitzer Center that the Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen had cut secret deals with al-Qaeda fighters where they paid some to leave, and allowed others to escape with weapons and looted money.

After completely destroying the Southern Middle Eastern country, Saudi and the UAE are inflaming another civil war in Libya by training, arming and financing Khalifa Haftar-led Libyan National Army (LNA). Haftar’s self-proclaimed LNA is equipped by US-made weapons that have been used to kill not just forces of UN-backed Government of National Accord, but civilians, too.

This conflicting strategy will not do any good to the United States. He might not care, but with the elections looming large, Trump would do well to reconsider his approach and adopt a more holistic approach when it comes to human lives.

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