Rula Jebreal: “Neutrality means staying with the dictatorship”

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How can we take action for stop the slaughter? Is the question that – from day 1 of the war in Ukraine – animates the political debate and divides public opinion. Sending the weapons at the front of resistance e economic sanctions imposed on Russia are the cornerstones of a discussion that has as its background the tragedies of an armed conflict. «In front of a genocide real, the world has moral responsibility not to remain neutral ”, explains the journalist Rula Jebreal, guest of the Riviera International Film Festival. «Neutrality would mean be on the side of the dictator“.

Yet, many criticize a certain type of interventionism. How does he respond?
“When the Ukrainians chose to fight, they first asked us for the no-fly zone, but the world replied that it couldn’t do it. Then they asked us at least to sanction Russia in a paralyzing way, so as to put pressure to stop the war machine which has very high costs. Unfortunately, we were only able to implement marginal sanctions, because so many countries are co-dependent on Russia’s resources ”.

Indeed, many Western countries have entered into agreements with Putin in recent years. In your opinion, why?
Magnificent illusion, they would say in the United States. Basically, I believe that many are under the illusion that having strong commercial relationships with strong friends would somehow moderate the regimes. However, it means not having studied the history of the last twenty years: how this man came to power, the devastation of Chechnya and Syria, the bombings in Sudan, he armed Wagner’s mercenary militias and there have already been clashes. direct with NATO countries, such as the cyber-attack on Estonia. So internal repression and external aggression go hand in hand: someone – even in good faith – may have hoped that by making economic pacts they would moderate, not realizing, however, that they are dealing with a murderous criminal ».

Public opinion is also divided on the issue of sending weapons.
“After the genocides in Rwanda, Bosnia and Syria, the world has now imposed an international obligation to protect civilians from dictators who want to exterminate them. We must understand that it is not we who want to export democracy with weapons, but it is he who is exporting the dictatorship with bombs. If a country asks you for help, you cannot answer “I am neutral, I love peace”: it would represent the failure of our morality. Even the Swiss have broken their neutrality ».

Don’t you think there is a risk of an escalation of violence?
«The escalation has already occurred: there is a country that has invaded and is bombing, its propagandists speak openly of sterilization, concentration camps, nuclear bombs. There have been rapes, the Bucha and Mariupol massacres: here it is the escalation! We cannot put our heads in the sand, as we have done with so many other regimes: we must defend European values. When Massoud testified before the European Parliament he said that he was the shield that protected us against the Taliban. Weeks later he was killed and then there was the attack on the Twin Towers. Today the shield that defends the West is not neutrality, but democracy, truth, an informed public opinion that pushes its government towards the right choice “.

This is where the information chapter opens: he said that our television is “intoxicated by Russian propaganda”. Quite right?
«Lavrov, who had not opened his mouth since the war began, chose Italy to hold a rally, 45 minutes of propaganda without contradiction: they want to co-opt the country, creating confusion as to who is right and who is wrong. Here, unfortunately, there are those who trade in disinformation, perhaps to make a few more points of share even knowing full well that Putin is a criminal. Just look at what happened during Covid, with shamans placed on the same level as scientists: in a state where institutions are delegitimized and trust is lacking, anything can happen. And Putin, in fact, knows these things because he studies the prey ».

In your opinion, what really moves Putin? That is, what is the root reason for this conflict?
«Anyone who has studied his regime knows that he could no longer offer anything of importance to his people. And the countries of the former Soviet Union have long wondered if the future prospect for them is better under the umbrella of the West, where I can challenge the president and remain a free person, or under the umbrella of Russia, where if I say a wrong word risk my life. Putin is therefore threatened by democracy, by the democratic aspiration of the countries around him. Not because democracy is perfect, I want to clarify it: it is imperfect, but for some countries it is a question of survival ».

How do you think the war will evolve? For now we can’t see the end of it.
“At the moment there are two ways. If Putin stops bombing, the war ends. If Ukraine stops resisting, Ukraine ends. But not the war. Because Putin will not stop: those who think the opposite have not understood that he wants to invade one country after another. He has a colonial project in mind, he wants to return to the glory of Mother Russia. I repeat, he never does things randomly, he studies books, he learns about everything: like when he met Angela Merkel, who has a phobia of dogs, and she let her black Labrador into her room ».

I close by asking you what it means today to be free.
«Living free from fear, not in dictatorship: projects like Putin’s do not cover you with the burqa, but cover you with terror. Today we must fight so that the new generations have the freedom to express themselves, to speak, without the fear that someone will kill you, rape you or torture you. In totalitarianisms there is no room for polls, for public opinion. And Putin is waging a war on those ideals we take for granted. That we celebrate too little. That we defend too little ».

Other stories of Vanity Fair that may interest you

The story of Vitaly and Alla, married and dead in the steel mill
Mom Vladislava, 17, fled Ukraine with her baby girl
Mc Donald’s says goodbye to Russia
Russia, what we found out about Vladimir Putin

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Source: Vanity Fair

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