Syrian crisis: How much worse can it be?



Published — Friday 18 January 2013

Last update 18 January 2013 1:19 am

| نسخة PDF Print News | A A

Time and again in the bloody Syrian conflict, as Bashar Assad seeks to crush his own people, it has seemed that the horrors could not increase. Yet this week has seen news of yet further depravities, all too often visited upon civilians who have been caught in the firing line.
It is now clear that, as with Muammar Qaddafi in his own doomed attempt to hang on to power, rape and sexual violence are being used as a tool against the civilian population suspected of sympathizing with, or actually assisting the fighters. This despicable behavior is more than a loathsome crime which can traumatize victims for life; it also brings shame and dishonor upon them and their families. That is why both Qaddafi and now Assad see rape as such a potent weapon.
What neither leader appears to have recognized, is the trail of white-hot fury these outrages leave in their wake. The families targeted may have been ambivalent about the insurgency, wishing, like many Syrians, simply for the violence to stop and for life to return to normal.
However, once their family has fallen victim to this odious assault, there can be no doubt where their sympathies will lie.
On top of this horror, it is now clear that Assad’s air force and artillery have been using cluster bombs and shells in increasing numbers. These iniquitous weapons, much favored by the Israelis in their failed 2006 assault on Lebanon, are now banned under an international treaty signed by 111 countries. The bomblets, into which the main ordinance breaks, are supposed to self-destruct after a given period. In reality, no such thing happens. Therefore the Assad regime, like Israel before it, is sowing a terrible harvest of maiming and death, to be gathered in by helpless children, or farmers or construction engineers, seeking to remove and heal the devastation now being wrought by Assad’s army.
But there is worse, even than this. Though the Americans seem oddly reluctant to confirm it, there now appears to be credible evidence that the regime has used some form of poison gas, on at least one occasion, in the original battle for Homs. This being the case, it seems clear that in the regime’s final death throes, Assad and his generals will have no hesitation whatsoever in ordering further deployment of their atrocious chemical weapons arsenal.
And finally there is the horrific weather, the worst for 20 years, which has seen torrential rain, heavy blizzards and plummeting temperatures. These have turned life among the more than 600,000 refuges who have fled Syria for tented camps in Jordan, Turkey and Lebanon, into a miserable nightmare. Tent homes have been flooded, the camps themselves turned into insanitary swamps. Those refugee concentrations which have had to endure heavy snow and icy cold within their frail shelters, are now themselves having to cope with floods, as the weather warms, at least temporarily, and the snow and ice begin to melt.
Beside frostbite and hypothermia, there is now the clear risk of outbreaks of disease. The medical facilities provided by the Turks, Jordanians and Lebanese as well as the international community, are simply insufficient to cope with the likes of a cholera outbreak, if it occurs.
The outlook for some 2 million refugees, who have chosen to stay inside the country is arguably even worse. What international food aid that has been able to reach the country, by sea or overland, is no longer being fully distributed, because convoys cannot get through areas where there is fighting. There are reports moreover that the food and medicines that the relief trucks carry, are now being seized, along with the trucks themselves. These seizures, it appears are being made by both Assad’s forces and some of the fighters.
International aid agencies are now talking of a humanitarian crisis of “staggering” proportions, unless the international community is able the provide more funding and find better ways of bringing the aid into Syrian’s internal refugees. Many of these unfortunates, who fled their original homes for what they thought was sanctuary in other parts of the country with relatives or friends, have discovered to their dismay, that the fighting has followed them. As the regime loses ever more ground, so further areas of the country become a war zone.
Even moving into territory now firmly in fighters’ hands, is no solution, since the regime continues to bomb and shell these areas, causing a steady flow of dead and maimed, almost all of them innocent civilians.
With 60,000 of his people dead, Assad shows no sign of restraining his violence. What fresh perversity will he perpetrate next?

What's happening around Saudi Arabia

RIYADH: The Ministry of Education has suspended all parallel education programs, except in medical and engineering specialties, as well as bridging programs for health diploma certificates.Education Minister Azzam Al-Dhakil gave directions to the rec...
RIYADH: The Cooperative Health Insurance Council said it had suspended operations of six medical insurance companies for violating health insurance regulations by issuing insurance policies without completing the required documentation and violating...
JEDDAH: A local survey found that almost half of Saudis abide by rules and laws in public places outside the Kingdom more than they do inside the country.More than one-third of the respondent sample said they violate road traffic signs and directions...
DAMMAM: A 50 percent decline in the prices of some types of fish in the Dammam Central Market was noted compared to the previous month.Fish sellers attributed this decline to an increased fish supply and fall in demand from hotels and consumers durin...
RIYADH: In a two-day operation, police arrested 343 beggars including women and children during the holy month of Ramadan.A police officer said the raid was carried out in the Salehiya district and 220 of those arrested were women from Ethiopia. “Mos...
RIYADH: Hotels in the capital have made special arrangements by setting up Ramadan tents, where diners can visit to begin and break their fast with special suhoor and iftar meals during the ongoing fasting month.As the Ramadan tent is a popular pheno...
JEDDAH: Kaddadin, or unlicensed transporters, say there is good money to be made during Ramadan especially in transporting Umrah pilgrims from Jeddah to Makkah and back.During this month the number of visitors doubles or triples which means the price...
RIYADH: The holy month of Ramadan is lively at night following Taraweeh prayers. Nights are turned into days during the month in the industrial area where there is a large concentration of automobile workshops.The industrial areas are well illuminate...
RIYADH: The Saudi man behind the green project that ensured 3,400 trees in Khurais in the Eastern Province for a government firm has been approached by a Kuwaiti oil company for a similar project. “After learning about the project in the Eastern Prov...
RIYADH: A total of 1,300 Gambian pilgrims will come to the Kingdom to perform Haj this year, Ambassador Omar Gibril Sallah said on Thursday.“We hope that the pilgrims will observe the fifth pillar of Islam in peace and harmony and may Allah accept th...
RIYADH: The Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTNH) and the Disabled Children’s Association (DCA) have launched a traffic safety campaign, to reduce the number of accidents that cause disability.Prince Sultan bin Salman, the SCTNH...
JEDDAH: The holy month of Ramadan is a period when non-Muslim expatriates too abstain from eating, drinking or smoking during the daytime out of respect for Muslims who fast from dawn to dusk and also because it is healthy. The expatriates are also...
A policeman was killed in an anti-terror operation on Friday in the western city of Taif, according to the interior ministry. An exchange of fire resulted in the death of the policeman after a raid to arrest a wanted person, state news agency SPA quo...
RIYADH: Customs authorities at Prince Mohammed bin Abdulaziz International Airport in Madinah have foiled an attempt to smuggle 52,850 Xanax capsules into the country.The drug, an anti-depressant, banned in the Kingdom, was found hidden under the clo...
RIYADH: Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman has ordered that two men face trial for allegedly insulting the late King Abdullah.Quoting reliable sources, a local online publication said that King Salman has also barred Mohsin Al-Awaji and Ab...

Stay Connected

Facebook