The People of Syria Do Not Deserve This |
Al Hayat - 05 August, 2012
Author: Jihad Al Khazen
Is there anyone in the world who is less fortunate than the Syrians? There, [in Syria] we have militants from the opposition infiltrating into Damascus and Aleppo, stationing themselves in their most populous neighborhood and firing from there using light weapons, as if just wanting to say ‘we are here’. This then invites the regime’s army to respond with massive violence, bombarding the militants with heavy artillery and sometimes helicopters, killing innocent people and destroying heritage buildings in the process. President Bashar al-Assad then speaks of collaborators inside Syria and terrorists. While these indeed exist, the ill performance of the regime is equally responsible, especially that the revolution started with ordinary citizens who were fed up with their lives, and have nothing to do with terrorists or collaborators.
Damascus and Aleppo are the cornerstones of human civilization. Do I even need to talk about Damascus, the oldest continuously inhabited city in the world; about its walls and gates; about the Umayyad Mosques, the early churches and Saint Paul and how he fled in a basket dropped over the wall after the Jews wanted to kill him; or about Ghouta and [Ahmed Shawqi’s poem] “Tears that cannot be held back, O Damascus”?
From the Citadel of Damascus to Aleppo and its citadel, I ask, where is Salah al-Din to see what has happened to his fort? It is as old as human civilization, and has seen conquerors from the Hittites to the Arameans, the Seleucids, the Romans, the Byzantines, all the way to Salah al-Din, who built atop their ruins, and both the citadel and Aleppo then endured to our present day.
Does the armed opposition know what history its attacks are threatening? And does the regime understand that it is destroying history? It seems we are dealing with an ignorant side, and another even more ignorant one. Yet I say that I still maintain the view that preserving lives is more important than anything else. In my first article on the Syrian situation on 1/4/2011, I condemned the killing of three or four Syrians; today, the victims number in the tens of thousands, and every day, 50 to 100 people or more are killed, as a sacrificial offering to criminal ignorance.
Three years ago or so, I was invited to Aleppo to attend Saint Maron’s millenarian celebrations. Indeed, the patron saint of the Maronites was born in Syria, and is buried near Aleppo.
I told President Bashar al-Assad, as he bade farewell to the guests following a luncheon, that Queen Rania was extremely pleased by the unofficial visit made by King Abdullah II and her to Syria, where Dr. Bashar and his wife Asmaa took them to archaeological ruins, restaurants and went sightseeing, with the Syrian President himself driving. Assad then told me that he and his wife were also pleased with the guests, and they were going to visit them soon.
The President left the restaurant and drove his own car, with Asmaa by his side. Several people saw his motorcade and started applauding and chanting, and one woman carrying shopping bags with two girls stopped the president’s car to greet him. Truth be told, this sight could not have been staged by the intelligence services.
How did the Syrian president manage to squander a popularity that took him ten years to build, in one week? I have no answer.
He is now speaking of a fateful battle and promising steadfastness. But it will be the Syrian people who will pay for this steadfastness from their own blood, along with the president, whom the Americans are now saying – according to the Washington Post two days ago-, will only leave in a coffin.
As concerns the Syrian opposition, I have always complained – and still do – of its obnoxiousness […]. But today, I add to this my complaint about its deadly ignorance. Does the Syrian opposition want to liberate Syria, or destroy all traces of history in it?
Given the way the regime dealt with the popular uprising since last March, perhaps it is difficult to say that the next regime can be any worse. However, the opposition insists on intimidating people. The opposition includes in its ranks a minority that is cultivated and patriotic, as well as extremist groups that have no history of any kind, along with terrorist groups that has been killing Muslims – from Iraq and Afghanistan, to Syria today.
But who stands to benefit from the regime’s brutality and the recklessness of the opposition? The answer is Israel alone. Meanwhile, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and all Arab countries will pay the price, along with Turkey and others. No one will benefit except Israel. Indeed, why would the Hebrew state wage war and fight, when the people of the country are fighting, killing and destroying one another, at a level that Israel has never dreamed of coming close to achieving?
As regards the United States, Britain and France, these countries have the Security Council where they can issue whatever resolutions that suit their interests, and which Russia and China oppose also to the extent that suits their interests, while Syrians are being killed day after day. The losses will not be limited to this generation, as many future ones will come and go before the Syrians can finish rebuilding what is being destroyed today.
What history teaches us is that religious wars are the bloodiest form of warfare, and it is enough proof to look at the history of European religious wars. What it also teaches us is that civil wars are the worst kind of warfare, with the people of the same country killing one another. I fear that Syria may be the prey of both a civil war and a sectarian one.
In the end all I can say is that the people of Syria do not deserve this. They are a lovable and kind people, and may God never forgive those who were behind all of this.