A spark of hope in Syria

An airstrike by the Bashar al-Assad regime on a paediatric hospital and residential areas around Aleppo, Syria, killed more than 50 people last month.

The images of the attack were so graphic that CNN gave a warning to viewers before broadcasting the images of the massacre and the destruction that occurred after the attack.

Among the civilians killed in the Al Quds hospital, in which Doctors Without Borders and the International Committee of the Red Cross provided voluntary services, were a lot of children, patients, medical personnel and doctors. In the attack, the last remaining senior paediatrician in the city, Dr Waseem Moaz, was killed as well.

Actually, everyone is aware of the dreadful situation in Syria.

For instance, Marianne Gasser, the head of the International Committee of the Red Cross’s Syria mission, emphasised that it is not the first time that lifesaving medical services have been hit.

The United Nations (UN) reported that the situation in Aleppo after the airstrike had become “catastrophic”. Those who saw this atrocity stated that a large number of barrel bombs were used in the airstrikes.

The operations manager for MSF in the Middle East said: “Two barrel bombs hit buildings near the hospital.” He added that the injured were rushed to the hospital and relatives hurried there. A third barrel bomb landed at the facility’s gate, causing many of the casualties.

The death toll in the airstrikes that took place in the last week reached 232 people, among them, 38 children. Airstrikes have targeted public places, such as hospitals, schools, playgrounds and marketplaces.

These attacks targeting Aleppo have hindered the access of humanitarian aid to millions of Syrians.

On the other hand, the trucks carrying humanitarian aid to Aleppo through the only access road to the city are constantly hit by the forces of the Kurdistan Workers Party and Democratic Union Party.

All of these problems have caused the people in the city to suffer from a severe shortage of food.

The UN seems to have no role to play in this regard, other than reporting these disasters and providing the statistical information after the fact.

Recently, Stefan de Mistura, the UN special envoy in Syria, stated that in the past 48 hours, an average of one Syrian civilian had been killed every 25 minutes and one wounded.

De Mistura also reported that the latest talks in Geneva, which turned into a long-winded story and had achieved no results for months on end, was running on empty.

The reason is obvious: the course of the talks is not determined by the common will of the UN members, and the organisation has become incapable of ensuring access of humanitarian aid to the region, let alone ending the conflict and its civilian massacres.

In fact, in a letter sent to The Guardian, members of the European Parliament wrote: “If the UN lacks the ability to deliver aid, the countries in the coalition have the capacity and presence to act. And high-altitude airdrops would keep our brave pilots safe.”

The call made by de Mistura, one of the people working for the UN who strives to stand out against such oppression, for the United States and Russia to revive their interventions and negotiations urgently for the region, has gained importance.

Indeed, the greatest responsibility in ending the human tragedy in the region is incumbent upon these two actors.

The expectation of the world of United States President Barack Obama, who is one of these actors, is clear: he should do justice to the Nobel Peace Prize endowed on him, take a brave step in inviting Russian President Vladimir Putin and Assad to sit down at the negotiating table and put an end to this tragedy. The influence of Putin on Assad and the Syrian regime is unquestionable.

For that reason, he also has a critical role in ending the massacres.

It is true that although the negotiation process may be long, Putin will be influential in ensuring the truce and delivering aid to the region.

The catastrophe in Syria has extended  beyond being resolved by denouncement, warning or condemnation.

There needs to be more concrete initiatives and enforcement and it is an absolute must that such initiatives are urgently implemented without any further loss of life.

Up till now, Syria was attacked with chemical bombs, about which people said virtually nothing.

A marketplace was hit, killing children and women, and again, people buttoned their lips.

Children’s hospitals were attacked and no reaction was forthcoming aside from the usual condemnations and sternly-worded memorandums.

The world has gotten used to hearing about civilian losses in Syria.

Some claim that it is because of “world politics” while others put the blame on “realpolitik”.

As a matter of truth, none of these claims is valid. No matter how cruel the political realities may be, people should not fail to listen to their conscience or acquiesce to persecution or harming oppressed people for their interests.

Indeed, a new development regarding this has gladdened our hearts to a certain extent and gave hope for peace in Syria. Leaders who are expected to be influential in Syria have responded expectations.

In a statement they made, the US finally announced that truce was provided between the Syrian regime and the opponents in Aleppo and its vicinity, with the help of Russia.

Additionally, Syrian state media stated that a 48-hour ceasefire to begin by last Thursday. De Mistura warned of more refugees if the fighting in Aleppo continued: “We could see 400,000 people moving towards the Turkish border.”

A ceasefire is indeed a good development. However, what is necessary is to end the war in Syria.

Putting an end to this oppression that pricks everyone’s conscience is a duty of all those people who bear witness to it.

It should not be forgotten that consenting to oppression, being indifferent or remaining silent to it, despite having the means to stop it, is no different than committing such appalling crimes itself.

It is being an accomplice to persecution and collaborating through indifference with those who cause such misery and suffering.

Adnan Oktar's piece in The New Straits Times:


2016-05-11 21:17:02

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