What will it take to stop the current destruction?

What is happening in Syria and Iraq today is a blemish on all of humanity.


2017/05/07 Issue: 105 Page: 7


The Arab Weekly
Claude Salhani



What will it take to awaken the leaders in the Arab world who continue to believe that their will can be imposed on their people regardless of the cost in material damages and human lives?

How many more cities in the Arab world need to be destroyed and how many more innocent people must die before these lead­ers realise the absolute madness of such violence?

And how many more millions of Arabs must become refugees before those responsible for the carnage accept the fact that changes in a modern society must come through the ballot and not by the bullet?

How many more years of death and destruction will it take for Bashar Assad and others like him to figure out that they have over­stayed their welcome?

These leaders, blinded by their beliefs in the need to impose a political and sectarian diktat, have caused untold misery and bear the responsibility for millions of deaths and injuries and the physical and psychological scarring of future generations. They stood by as thou­sands of children were orphaned and thousands of parents rendered childless.

They have sanctioned the killing and torture of countless numbers of people simply because they disagree with them. They have starved and gassed their opponents. They continue to lie about the use of banned weapons of mass destruc­tion, such as chemical bombs.

Yet the rest of the world stands by. What is happening in Syria and Iraq today is a blemish on all of humanity.

Yesterday it was Hama, then Homs and then Aleppo. Today it is Mosul and Raqqa.

What of tomorrow?

Will the lunatics who believe that their god is greater than the god of their neighbours feel the need to destroy more Arab cities?

Will they not be content before bringing ruin to the entire Middle East?

How many more cities in the region need to suffer before the instigators of death and destruction realise that there are alternatives to dictatorship?

Will they bring their carnage to other great cities of the region? Will they be satisfied to see the apocalyptic shape in which they left Mosul is repeated in other great cities of the region?

New images for CNN by Gabriel Chaim, a Brazilian photojournalist using a camera mounted on a small drone, gives us insight into the scope of destruction and devas­tation that befell what was once Iraq’s second largest city as govern­ment forces backed by the United States fought for control of what remains of this martyred city.

Mosul now takes its place alongside Homs, Hama and many other Arab cities that have suf­fered incalculable losses. From a prewar population of more than 1.6 million, Mosul’s population has been cut to about one-third of that. Those who remain in the belea­guered city struggle to find food and water to survive.

Islamic State (ISIS) militants are regrouping around Raqqa, the expected site of the next ma­jor offensive. There, US-backed military units are preparing for a final showdown with ISIS. That battle for control of the Islamists’ stronghold in Syria is expected to be even more violent with Russian Air Force planes participating in the fight against ISIS.

In Syria, President Bashar Assad hardly merits the title of president, given that he hardly controls about one-third of his country and is entirely dependent on the military assistance of Iran, Iraq, Lebanon’s Hezbollah and the Russian Air Force. Without their help, Assad would probably have been history long ago.

Some of these Arab leaders are ignorant of the past. History is the best indication of what the future might bring and history has shown us that even the mightiest of dicta­tors are eventually taken out in the most humiliating manner. It is only a matter of time.


Claude Salhani is the Opinion section editor of The Arab Weekly.


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