By Mohammad Mazhari

Double standards on human rights are the norm, not the exception: expert

October 11, 2021 - 21:58

TEHRAN - MENA Program Director at the International Crisis Group says that double standard on human rights has turned to a norm and no longer is an exception as great states in the world sponsor futile wars, especially in Yemen.

"Double standards on human rights are the norm, not the exception or only limited to Yemen," Joost R. Hiltermann tells the Tehran Times.

"And not only Western powers are guilty of this. That said, it is hard to see how one can negotiate an end to the war in Yemen if countries such as Britain and France continue to supply weapons that keep it going," he adds.

Despite its colorful and glamorous mottos, modern politics is coupled with blatant contradictions and double standards. Looking back on the wars during past decades, we can realize how Western powers supported Saddam Hussein in the Iran-Iraq war in order to contain and suppress the Islamic Revolution of Iran.

Today Western superpowers continue their arms sale to Saudi Arabia to bombard the defenseless people of Yemen. All Western leaders are well aware of the oppressive nature of the Saudi regime, but it is the economic interest that rules international relations.

Following is the text of the interview with Joost R. Hiltermann about these contradictions:

Why are the Western powers focusing on Iran's nuclear program while Israel possesses nuclear arsenals?

Western powers are allied with Israel; they don't think Israel will become an enemy and turn its nuclear weapons on them. They are also concerned about additional countries acquiring nuclear weapons in an unstoppable proliferation.

“Double standards on human rights are the norm, not the exception.”

How could we believe Western good intention while some European states helped Saddam Hussein to produce mass detraction and chemical weapons during the Iran-Iraq war?

It is debatable that some European states helped Saddam Hussein in producing chemical weapons (Iraq didn't produce nuclear or biological weapons). They allowed some exports of precursor chemicals to go through; it's true that they must have been aware that Iraq could use these to manufacture lethal gases, and they were aware, of course, that Iraq was using chemical weapons. In any case, all states pursue their interests. If it's in their strategic interest to pursue a nuclear deal with Iran, they will do so; it has nothing to do with good intentions. It reflects two different approaches to what they see as the challenge that Iran poses: one was to dam it in through Saddam's regime; this failed. The other is by striking a deal with it. If this fails as well, they may try another approach.

Apparently, the Western double standard in human rights becomes more evident when it comes to Yemen. While Saudi Arabia has waged a futile war against Yemeni people in which women and children are targeted, Western powers prefer to continue their arms sales. What is your comment?

Double standards on human rights are the norm, not the exception or only limited to Yemen. And not only Western powers are guilty of this. That said, it is hard to see how one can negotiate an end to the war in Yemen if countries such as Britain and France continue to supply weapons that keep it going.

What can we learn from the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan? Can you imagine a day the U.S. decides to make a dramatic pivot away from the Arab region, especially West Asia?

Like other states, the U.S. will always pursue its strategic interests, and these will change depending on changes on the ground in any given place. The U.S. realized belatedly that it was getting little benefit from its continued presence in Afghanistan and that the war was costing a lot. This is not the same as the rest of the Middle East (West Asia): its presence and interests are different. But of course, it could decide to reduce its footprint over time, especially as oil and gas lose importance as sources of energy. I don't expect any dramatic pivot, though.

How do you assess U.S. achievements in Iraq and Afghanistan after two destructive wars?

Measured against their objectives, these were disastrous wars, as many Americans well realize.

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