Syria: The Theft of Another Nation
A recently made documentary film shows refugees who left for Europe desperate to return home to Syria
Dr Waiel Awwad Delhi
The stillbirth of a 34-nation coalition led by the royal family of Saudi Arabia to fight “terror” was so quick that many members of the alliance were unaware it had even been conceived. Pakistan, Indonesia, Lebanon and Malaysia expressed surprise they had been included.
The government of Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan is feeling the heat after Russia exposed its alliance with the terrorist organisation, Daesh (calling it the ‘Islamic State’ grants it a false legitimacy).
Under the formula of an oil-for-arms deal, Erdogan therefore extended his hand to Tel Aviv. He offered Syrian and Iraq artifacts and oil tankers in exchange for reviving an old Israel-Syria alliance. He sought the help of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in inflaming the Arab capitals.
By sending guns, he lured fighters of Hamas into Syria to fight the government there, thus helping in the avalanche against the Syrian people and the country.
Before the end of another turbulent year for the Syrians, all the major players in the conflict made swift turnarounds to deal with the new development.
Washington fell in line with Moscow on Syria, and encouraged all its local partners to try to end the civil war before a UN Security Council resolution. This is in order to clean up the image of its allies by encouraging “militant groups” to trim their beards and moustaches. The idea is that they’ll then be more acceptable internationally, at least to fools and the ignorant.
The meeting in Riyadh to unite Syrian opposition was, in this sense, a farce. There were opposition groups manufactured in the West with no constituencies of their own within Syria. There were terrorist groups affiliated with the Al Nusra front, Al-Qaeda, Ahrar Al Sham group, in addition to the Army of Conquest and Army of Islam. And dozens of other jihadi terrorist groups shared the dais to discuss the future of the country.
Erdogan ended the visa waiver for Syrians after his government facilitated the entry of thousands of foreign mercenaries into Syria through its 940-km border with Turkey. He gagged Turkish journalists and jailed those who exposed the link between his government, trading with stolen oil, and its supply lines of arms to terrorists inside Syria. He dismantled more than 1,500 Syrian factories from the Syrian commercial capital, Aleppo, to be sold for a token price inside Turkey and then flooded Syrian markets with Turkish products. He then helped add tax-free guns and ammunition from Libya, eastern Europe and the US to the mix, paid for in full by Saudi Arabia and Qatar.
The US and NATO, who consider Erdogan and his family their allies, closed their eyes to his illegal trade in black market gold. More absurdly, when he provoked the Russians by shooting down a Su-24M jet over Syria, he was rewarded with $3 billion and a promise to review his bid to join the EU!
Many countries are trying to wash their blood-stained hands, after having colluded with terrorist organisations to serve their geopolitical interests. Suddenly, these allies are enemies, so as to show the public that they are seriously fighting terrorism.
In the middle of all this, it is the Syrian people that are paying the price. In Turkey, thousands are compelled to flee to Europe. This is a forced, well-organised flood, orchestrated by Erdogan to blackmail Europe into offering billions of dollars in aid. Meanwhile, human trafficking and the organ trading business are flourishing in his bastion. When you ask those leaving Turkey for Europe, they will tell you that they are looking for a better life because of humiliation, oppression and suppression by the
In Jordan, Syrian girls as young as 12 are sold to brothels and to rich elderly Sheikhs. In Lebanon, people are mistreated at the hands of a few Syrian haters or even shunted onward into an unknown future.
Inside Syria, there are different stories to tell. There is daily suffering, with people dying every day in different ways. But death is just one part of the story. There is also the threat of constant bombings, being trapped under the debris or forced to flee to other areas and leave everything behind. Then there are the snipers, mines, and suicide bombers. It is an avalanche of man-made disasters in the territories occupied by the terrorist organisations, where slavery, rape, torture and extortion are a daily saga. Others leave in misery, because they are trying to survive. Meanwhile, every country is trying out new weapons and new methods of extermination on the Syrian population, its heritage and civilisation.
In a recent documentary called Walkers in the Mud that aired on TV, a refugee advises his family back home: “Don’t come here. It is worse than expected. Stay back. We will come back. We are leaving the country to Daesh and its supporters, Saudi and Qatar. We have been misguided, fooled, cheated and forced to leave to make a better future for ourselves and our children. I am here because of my children and not me. Now I am a refugee, while I was a citizen of Syria.The worst day in my country is better than the best day I spent here.”
It is reminiscent of the calamity during World War I, at the time of the Turkish occupation of Bilad Al-sham, when the Ottomans were forcing Syrians to join the army to fight for them. Then, too, there was a mass exodus of Syrians, then to Latin America, where now the number of Syrian expats is equal to the Syrian population prior to the crisis
But history offers ironies, too. Syria was a host for many refugees as well throughout the past century. In the 1860s, thousands of Circassians fleeing a Russian invasion made new homes in Syria. Greeks fled to Syria during their war with Turkey. Armenians escaped to Syria during the genocide perpetrated by Turkey beginning in 1915. Palestinians found refuge in Syria after the Israeli occupation in 1948 and 1967. More than 2.5 million Iraqis took shelter in Syria after the US occupation of Iraq. And Lebanese fled to Syria during the Israeli assault on Lebanon in 2006. Yet now, Syrians make up the largest number of refugees in the world because of this man-made disaster.
Half of Syria’s population of 24 million people is internally displaced or living miserably in neighbouring countries. These are not economic migrants but desperate people forced into exile because of the war. They are there because vested interests of certain countries wish to destabilise the region and reshape the Middle East on ethnic, cultural and sectarian lines and hence return to the post-World War II policy toward the region.
The borders are now irrelevant for refugees due to flare-ups of sectarian violence, which is enhancing ethnic cleansing and mass exodus from the war-torn areas. The Arab governments share the major responsibility for the mess and constructive anarchy created in the region. They are responsible for the division and for executing the plot.
The solution to tackle this human crisis is by stopping the war.
Syrians need peace to return home and rebuild their houses and families. Syrians need protection and kindness and respect for their human rights as migrants, regardless of their ethnicity and religion. For now, though, the blood of innocent Syrians will continue to spill in Syria, in neighbouring countries, and even in the countries that have given them shelter where they are unable to stand humiliation and suffering.
(The writer is the bureau chief of the Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) in Delhi. The views expressed are his own. )