Destroying Syria

A Free Syrian Army fighter holds a rocket-propelled grenade launcher while taking cover after a tank blast in Aleppo, Syria, Wednesday, Sept. 26, 2012. Syria's unrest began in March 2011 when protests calling for political change met a violent government crackdown. Many in the opposition have since taken up arms as the conflict morphed into a civil war that activists say has killed nearly 30,000 people. Over the past few months, the rebels have increasingly targeted security sites and symbols of

This week’s annual gathering of world leaders in New York is supposed to be an opportunity to highlight the best that the world community has to offer. U.N officials and heads of state raise issues of concern, and coalitions of concerned parties are mobilized in order to do something for the greater good of humanity.

This week, the VIPs who have assembled are being greeted by a series of developments in Syria. The casualty toll in the 18-month-old popular uprising has reached 30,000 people killed, with untold numbers of people wounded, arrested, tortured and displaced from their homes.

Syria is the most dangerous place in world for journalists, and Wednesday saw the death of the latest victim of this violence. The television correspondent was one of more than 200 people who lost their lives on a single day – the only “progress” in the Syrian uprising is macabre, namely a daily death toll that experiences a gradual and steady rise.

With the exception of a handful of countries, the world community says it wants peace and democracy in Syria, and wants President Bashar Assad out of power. And it remains adamant against any type of meaningful intervention to achieve these ends.

Meanwhile, various players continue to talk about dialogue; they have endorsed the mission of a peace envoy, Lakhdar Brahimi, who is supposed to engage Assad, a person who believes that his regime is confronting “gangs of terrorists and mercenaries.”

Thus, the international community is throwing its weight behind “political means” to solve the crisis, without any kind of meaningful back-up plan should the process fail. As a rebel leader put it, the world appears to be complicit in the massacres, despite all of the rhetoric about the need to support the Syrian people.

Not even black marketers are willing to sell the rebels the weapons they need, because of a “red light” from the CIA and Mossad, he claimed. The result is that the rebels have been forced to loot their own national army’s arsenal in order to fight back against the daily offensives by the regime, with no hope of receiving even defensive arms to slow the assaults.

The only conclusion that can be drawn is that the parties supporting both sides of the conflict are interested only in the destruction of Syria – the methodical, horrific razing of villages and cities, day in and day out.

The irony is that the United Nations continues to go through the motions of holding a civilized meeting in New York, while the policies of member states highlight the disgusting hypocrisy, and the dramatic failure of the international community to do something meaningful to stop the slaughter.

A country that prides itself on its antiquities is becoming a heap of modern ruins, and the world has no intention of doing anything other than watching and waiting.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on September 27, 2012, on page 7.




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