By Waiel Awwad
While many were watching Alan’s picture and his tragic ending with tears and sad faces, I was frantically trying to reach my nephew Hasan who was studying in Ludhiana and left India abruptly without informing me. He had departed to Istanbul to join his mother and two sisters Mira and Maria, who were waiting to take the death boat to a Greek island, facing insurmountable risks and horrors, to eventually reach the safe coast of Sweden. Hasan could not let his mother and sisters (nine and 10 years old, respectively) travel alone, so he left Panjab University during his second year of study. He had only sent me one text message saying: “Uncle, I’m sorry that I did not inform you before but I could not let my mother, Mira and Maria sail alone. I will keep you posted. Pray for us.”
They were among the lucky ones as their boat sailed safely to the shore. Hasan is now in Gothenburg and posted a goodbye letter to India on his Facebook page. His sisters Mira and Maria should have been in school in Syria where education is compulsory and free. But the war drove them out of their homes along with thousands of Syrians who fled from the atrocities of fanatics and terrorists who resorted to killing, raping, decapitating and destroying every standing stone. At the same time in the West, crocodile tears are shed and there’s a search for democracy in Syria inside the pockets of Sheikhdom’s Dishdasha (traditional Arab dress) or may be inside Gurgaon’s harem.
Prior to the war, Syrian migration was minimal and only for economic reasons and a better lifestyle. Now, Syrian refugees comprise more than 30 percent of total migrants to Europe and millions are under threat of fleeing if the war does not stop. There was a sudden wave of refugees that captured the eyes of the international community, despite the fact that the war has been happening since 2010 in Libya and then Syria, while Iraqi refugees have been around since the US invasion of Iraq in 2003. Many were smuggled in overcrowded boats while others were stuffed and locked inside trucks and trains. In some cases, both children and their parents were left to die of suffocation inside locked chambers.
The war on Syria started long before with economic sanctions and rise in unemployment, corrupt officials and appeasement. In addition, some recruited fanatic Syrian expats coming from the Gulf states, which exacerbated the situation. According to WikiLeaks, the US encouraged Qatar and Turkey to have good relations with President Bashar al- Assad of Syria on the pretext of helping the country politically and economically. When the war broke out, it was President of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and the Emir of Qatar who started funding, training and arming mercenaries and sneaking them into Syria to create havoc in the hopes that the Syrian government will fall quickly, like in Tunisia, Libya and Egypt. The militant groups started slaughtering and slitting Syrian throats and cleaning their knives with the Syrian government’s clothes. No one among the armed militant groups was willing for reconciliation and political solution because their masters across the border refused any peaceful solution and the rest is history.
Inside the chamber of death
How will you react when your child is on a boat and screaming for help or locked up in a cold refrigerator and you are unable to rescue him or her? How will you live if he or she died and you could not save them? What will be the impact on your child living with the scar of horror of war and the atrocities? Just imagine if Alan was your child.
Syrians were left with two options: to stay back and face death at the hands of terrorists or take to the high seas and sail to safety at the mercy of traffickers and criminals, trying to start a new life of challenges and struggles. Countries like Germany and Sweden opened their doors to receive them, while Syria is left to the bears and wolves that survive on the prey of other beasts. I was told many Syrians are thinking of naming their newly born as Angela because of German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s hospitality!
Alan and his five-year-old brother truly represented the Syrian tragedy and were able to let the world listen to Syrians about the atrocities committed by the armed terrorists supported by the West and some of the Gulf states. From the beginning, we have been trying to warn the world about the events and tragedies in Syria, which has nothing to do with democracy and freedom, but anarchy and destruction. Syrian embassies were closed in Europe; Syria was suspended from the Arab League; and Syrian TV channels were banned from airing on Arab satellites. Only the voice of the petrodollar propaganda machine was allowed to convey the war on Syria from one side to steer public opinion about the Syrian government and accuse it of atrocities and oppression to “peaceful demonstration” and justify arming and training of “moderate rebels”, and when the stage is set, to legitimise foreign intervention as “humanitarian intervention”. Even Syrian pilgrims cannot go and pray in Mecca for their dead family members because Syrians were denied the Hajj quota by the Saudi regime for the last five years.
What is the end game? Can we stop the exodus?
The Syrian catastrophe was replayed for the second time; the first was a century ago when Syrians were forced to flee their country because of the Ottoman Empire recruiting young Syrians to join the war. The Sykes –Picot accord and Balfour declaration compounded the suffering of the people. Syrian expats, numbering 23 million, now equal prewar population. Currently, half of the population is displaced and a holocaust is in waiting for those left inside the country fighting the menace of terrorists and extremist armed groups.
We need to put an end to the suffering of Syrians and stop the dancing around the fire of their dead bodies. It is possible to end the disastrous chain of events by stopping the adventure of exporting wars, declaring peace and political solutions to crises as a strategic option and helping society to modernise and build democratic institutions. Thousands of Syrian asylum seekers and refugees are at risk with certain European countries applying strict measures and jailing many of them who try to cross the border. The Human Rights Watch (HRW) listed “five steps to tackle [the] refugee crisis by the European Union leaders during the coming emergency summit meeting”.
A proxy war is being fought over Syria. The country is in a shambles and a whole generation between the ages of 12 and 36 years has left the country. The slogan of “desire of freedom” does not sell anymore. The truth is out about the US’ and its allies’ policy of “regime change” towards Syria by funding terror. The blame game must be stopped and so should the war and we must work for reconciliation and put an end to the Islamic State phenomenon. Enough blood has been shed; the Mediterranean Sea is washed with innocent Syrian blood and history will never forgive us for ignoring our humanity.