The two-year mark of the uprising in Syria is a solemn moment in which the entire world should take stock of the destruction that has befallen one of the Arab world’s leading countries, and look ahead to a grim future.
The toll of destruction is known to all, but as the March 15 date approaches, people should remember the stark figures and uncountable losses suffered.
Four million Syrians inside the country are displaced, while 1.5 million refugees have streamed across the country’s borders in search of safe haven.
Even the figure of 80,000 people killed probably understates the magnitude of the calamity, since thousands of people remain missing, and tens of thousands of people have suffered a range of debilitating injuries, both physical and psychological.
A popular uprising that broke out in the south of Syria t two years ago, when people protested the imprisonment and torture of a group of teenagers for the “crime” of scribbling graffiti, has turned into an all-out war in which the regime has used cluster bombs, barrel bombs, aircraft and Scud missiles against mainly civilian targets. The imprisonment and torture of thousands of people can be added to this depressing list.
Syria’s economy has suffered devastation, and even the country’s precious, centuries-old archaeological heritage has been targeted by the killing machine. Meanwhile, the ugly phenomenon of sectarianism has been unleashed by the conflict, with profoundly dangerous repercussions for future generations of Syrians.
The destruction of World War II, in some ways, pales before the damage incurred by a small country in the Middle East over the last two years, with villages, neighborhoods, cities and towns turned upside-down in systematic fashion.
Amid all of this death and destruction, the international community has largely contented itself with holding a series of meetings, conferences and discussions to tackle the crisis in Syria. While all of the efforts to provide urgently needed humanitarian assistance are welcome, the time and energy would have been better spent coming up with a feasible plan to end the war.
For the most part, the countries that wield the most influence when it comes to Syria have been busy engaged in verbal sparring as the death toll steadily increases. Perhaps officials from these countries continue to entertain the hope that a “winner” will eventually emerge, while the sad fact is that all sides in Syria will come out losers because of the horrific carnage that continues day in and day out. They should realize that Syria is being held hostage by a regime that remains focused solely on the use of force to maintain its grip on power. The regime should be aware that its end is a foregone conclusion, while those who claim to be involved in ending the conflict should realize that the war’s end should be calculated not in terms of a time-line, but in a horrific toll of lives lost.