Growing up in the United Kingdom, I used to watch a hilarious sitcom called the “The Rag Trade” based on the clothing industry. At the close of the day the bossy shop steward would yell “Everybody out!” which became the show’s catchphrase.
Witnessing the tangled web of protagonists, appearing to believe the answer to the country’s pain is more bombs, tanks, guns, death and destruction, I wish there was a steward with a megaphone screaming “Everybody out!” Everybody that is apart from the Syrian people whose wants and needs are treated as secondary to the muscle-flexing of foreign state actors out to gain geopolitical advantage over their rivals.
Scrolling down my Facebook news feed this morning I came across a video of a trembling wounded toddler covered in blood as a result of a barrel bomb attack on the stricken city of Aleppo. This child was one of the “lucky” ones; some 15 civilians were killed, including 11 children. Earlier this month, 18 convulsed women and 10 children fighting for breath were hospitalized when chlorine gas was dropped on one of the city’s neighborhoods.
Tens of thousands of children have suffered a similar fate; millions are spending their childhood in squalid camps boiling in summer, freezing in winter, or are suffering from severe malnutrition caused by Assad’s wars of attrition, while thousands of others have washed up on foreign shores or have been co-opted by terrorists into becoming heartless killers.
An iconic photograph of a traumatized little Vietnamese girl running down a road after a US napalm attack weighed heavily on the world’s collective conscience and was instrumental into that war’s end. There have been so many iconic pictures and videos showing the Syrian carnage; they make us feel uncomfortable, we may even shed a tear, but there is little clamor in the planet’s capitals to keep the children of Syria safe. Instead the clamor centers on keeping them and their parents far from our own countries.
Yes, the Assad regime bears the brunt of the blame for turning its guns on its own people but foreign interventions have made the situation worse. Firstly, they’ve been ineffective and secondly, they are arguably responsible for prolonging the conflict.
If Iran, Hezbollah, Russia and the United States had stayed out of it, I strongly believe Syrians would have found a way to resolve their differences through dialogue before spaces were created for Daesh, Al-Nusra and other hard-line extremist groups to get a foothold.
The more protracted the fighting, the more sacrifices made, the more hatred has been generated and the harder it is for those who’ve lost loved ones to cut their losses. And even if they want to open a new page, they are being manipulated by their foreign orchestrators and funders, plus they fear retribution for any war crimes they may have perpetrated.
Basically, Syrians from all sides of the spectrum have lost control over their own destiny that’s now rests in the hands of America, Russia and Iran. Their country’s sovereignty has been breached by all and sundry after a piece of the pie, whether retention of Mediterranean naval bases, the expansion of Shiite ideology, the reserves of oil discovered under the Golan Heights, the enlargement of the so-called Caliphate, or regional domination. They are all motivated by interests; the Syrian people are mere disposable pawns in this horrendous chess game.
And now Turkey has got in on the act ostensibly to eviscerate the presence of Daesh close to its border with northern Syria following various bombings on Turkish soil for which Daesh has taken credit or are suspected of carrying out. But given that President Erdogan has openly admitted that his country’s number one enemy are Kurdish PKK and associated YPG militants, who’ve been working closely with the US military to beat back Daesh, the chances of escalation are high.
Foreign meddling, competing interests and opposing agendas have poisoned any chance of peace in the near future. Sure, John Kerry and his Russian buddy Sergei Lavrov come together every now and again for a photo-op, hinting at solutions in the pipeline or a conference is organized to which core parties aren’t invited. Do those powers care about the babies pulled out of rubble, dead, maimed or barely alive, almost daily?
Somehow, I doubt it because if Presidents Obama and Putin were sincere, either separately or together they could have imposed a peaceful solution and sent the terrorist cockroaches fleeing years ago.