Each Person Who Died in Syria Today Has a Story We’ll Never Know: I Don’t Know How to End the War, But We Must Accept More Refugees
As I write this, the death toll from today’s sarin gas attack in Syria stands at 82, with dozens thought to be children.
This is obscene.
The world is forever scarred.
Meanwhile, we have an administration that has twice tried to ban all Syrian refugees.
For six years, I’ve read all I can about the Syrian civil war and I know enough to know even top-tier military and diplomatic officials have different views on how the war can and should end.
I don’t purport to have better answers.
But I do know it’s morally paramount that we accept Syrian refugees, and that we accept even more than the Obama administration agreed to accept. As I understand, he had to fight the GOP Congress to agree to accept any Syrian refugees at all.
This isn’t–or shouldn’t be–about partisanship, but about our shared humanity.
When calling your elected representatives, discuss your views on Syrian refugees and remind them the U.S. has blood on our hands if we stand idly by.
SYRIA. Homs governorate. Homs. 2014. A poster of President Bashar al-Assad on a destroyed shopping mall. Despite many offensives, conferences and foreign interventions, Syria’s civil war shows no sign of ending.
Photograph: Sergey Ponomarev for The New York Times
After the regime of Bashar al-Assad again attacked civilians with chemical weapons a rally took place in front of the embassy of Russia in Berlin. Russia is beside Iran the closest ally of al-Assad. About 86 People died from the chemical attack in Khan Sheikhun, hundreds were injured.
The activists condemned the ongoing war crimes by the regime and urged Russia to stop al-Assad from killing the Syrian People. 04/05/2017.
The extent of US involvement in the bloodless coup, which overthrew the secular democracy that sprung up in Syria after World War II, has been disputed ever since it happened. The general understanding is that in 1949, the CIA decided their best bet to further US interests in the area would be to “encourage” a coup d’etat in the country. They had a “reasonable” reason, too. A proposed construction project, the Trans-Arabian Pipeline, was in danger of not being built under the rule of Shukri-al-Quwatli, the first president of Syria. And no one messes with the United States’ god-given right to an uninterrupted oil supply!
Husni al-Za’im (above), who had been convicted less than a decade earlier for graft, was basically chosen by the CIA to be the next leader of Syria. He was encouraged, given money and men, and dutifully overthrew Syria’s democratically elected president. And who would have guessed it? Almost immediately, the pipeline plans were approved! As were a number of pro-American initiatives, such as peaceful negotiations with Israel, just a year after the first Arab-Israeli War which Syria was prominent in.
Husni al-Za’im lasted just four months before being “deposed” (read: secretly executed) by his slightly-more-popular colleague, a strongman who ruled as a dictator for five years before being deposed in turn. Coup after coup occurred. Finally, in 1963, one wannabe dictator actually figured out his stuff and held the country for thirty years until his death. That would be Hafez al-Assad, father of Bashar al-Assad.
On Tuesday, the world learned the name of Khan Sheikhoun, a town in Idlib, Syria, after government forces used what was likely a chemical bomb containing a nerve agent on innocent civilians. Between 70 and 100 people, including dozens of children, were killed in the attack and as many as 500 were injured. Witnesses described the horrors of the aftermath - much too graphic for me to write here. But this is nothing new, it is not the first time President Bashar al-Assad has slaughtered innocent civilians, especially children, in his own country. It is not the first time he has left people laying on the ground foaming at the month until death from use of illegal chemical weapons. It is not the first time the world has been shocked by images from within Syria. It is not the first time global leaders have spoken out and condemned this sort of barbaric extermination… Yet it continues. For 6 years, this war has raged, a war officially between the government and a rebel army, but it is hard to see this as anything besides a war on the innocent Syrian people. The toll is impossible to calculate to an exact number, but most estimates indicate more than 200,000 innocent people, including more than 50,000 children, have been killed to date, and almost 5,000,000 have been displaced. I don’t have the answer, I don’t know what should be done or even what could be attempted, I can’t tell you who did what and recall every detail, but I know one thing, no matter the intricacies, it must stop. Syria is one of several points on this planet which holds the history, known and unknown, of our species, it was once an epicentre of art, discovery, and science - perhaps the oldest civilization besides Mesopotamia, yet it is being destroyed as if it were nothing more than a piece of trash. A jewel in world history has been reduced to ruins. And that is just the past, the future is being decimated as well. With each traumatic injury, with each innocent fatality, the light of Syria’s future weakens. It will take hundreds of years, multiple generations, for Syria to overcome the current suffering, and the scars of today’s battles may never heal. If only we’d think of the children, there is nothing a child could do to deserve the nightmares of war, nothing a child could do to deserve anything close. Adults create war, adults create the weapons that kill, adults create the politics and the fighting, adults create power and money, adults are the cause of and reason for mass conflict, but they do not bear the greatest loss here, it is the children that do. Like I said, I don’t know the answer, I am not even sure of the question, but the motivation to end this all is clear - the innocent children of Syria. My heart aches and shatters for Syrians in the war zone and across the world, I can’t imagine your pain so I won’t even pretend to understand, but I hope you still believe in the goodness of humanity, I hope you still find reason to carry on, and I hope one day, Syria can again be an epicentre of civilization. Most of all, I hope you find safety, and your loved ones find safety. Whether it is peace in Syria or a new home until the fighting ends, I hope you find stability and safety.