By Saoussane Rifai
By Saoussane Rifai
Morocco World News
Rabat, June, 14, 2012
The horrific images and videos of the killings perpetrated by the Assad’s regime in Syria are a vivid reminder of the price that the Syrian people are paying and will continue to do for democracy. A transition to a freer society where the rights of Syrians are respected, and their dignity is restored, is definitely not a lost cause. In this battle that is growing into a dirty civil war where people are killed ‘en masse’, it is certainly understandable how deep is the dilemma of the world’s powers, very much stuck in a stalemate that is growing hurtful, bloody, and costly as the time goes. For citizens watching the daily horror’s dose on both facebook and other media, a moral question becomes poignant: to what extent should we just watch and pretend as if nothing happened? That was my case since this ordeal began.
Initially, I didn’t even watch the news; later on as the killing made the headlines, my interest as a far-away observer grew, sometimes even pondering some scenarios, and hoping that the Assad regime would be perhaps a bit more logical. I never thought I would wake up to see the pictures of butchered kids before breakfast, or slaughtered babies before I sleep. That has become news for facebook – it is the saddest reality a parent, a family, and a nation can face. It is the worst nightmare anyone can go through. And this is why indeed the world needs to speak up before it is too late.
The latest turn of the events and the mass atrocities are a warning signal of another catastrophe. Indeed, I see big trouble looming in the way the Syrian’s regime panic. At the current rate, Syria is headed to another Bosnia, only this time a bit bleaker, bloodier, and more complicated. A question worth to ask then: can the world afford genocide in Syria, another Rwanda, and another Bosnia? Can the world afford to just shut its mouth and wait until the Syrian government depletes itself to death before it stops the butchery? I guess this is a very high price in a volatile region, very unworthy for everybody, including the traditional enemies of the Syrian regime.
While beneficial to the interests of some players, the current turn of the events remains a short term solution that will sink the region in turmoil. Sooner or later, the opposition in Syria will find a way to defend itself. Who benefits from a civil war in Syria a la-lebanon or a la-bosnia? Certainly not a middle east yearning for peace, and certainly not the citizens of the world who will see themselves obligated sooner or later to let their governments conduct a sooner-or later intervention to stop this long-overdue violence. Who will pay the cost? The world would certainly, but with a great pain.
It is high time indeed for both governments and the citizens of the world to speak up against this massacre that is breaching decency, if not the world’s commitment to Human Rights. It is indeed not understandable how the world is dealing with this crisis with a slow mode, preferring to burry itself in the sand and to treat this cancer with pain-killers alone. The Annan plan has proven its limitation and needs to be reframed if not replaced by urgent measures to save the civilians stranded in Syria. Not only is the Annan plan providing the Assad regime more time but also more room for killing the highest number of citizens in the most savage and sectarian way.
This is indeed complicating further interventions, and before we know it, the world will have to deal with consequences. It is high time for the world to explore other options. In this process, the world is better off keeping its morality in check. The UN, and all the underlying governments who committed to its principles, ought to intervene (and militarily if needed) in Syria to stop this massacre. Syrian citizens should be applauded for their capacity to persevere under the harsh conditions that could have stopped long ago if an intervention similar to that of Bosnia or Libya was conducted. For the benefit of stability of the region, an intervention is more compelling today. The world cannot afford another holocaust; and if history is to teach us something, it would teach us that a regime that fails its citizens, that lies to them, that is not capable of defending them, that is killing them with its own machinery (for any reason) is a regime that will not be capable of dialogue. How can it be when it is refusing to commit to its international and national obligations of protecting its citizens, further defying the international community by committing more massacres?
The Syrian regime lost both credibility and legitimacy. It had turned into a bleak example of a ruling family willing and able to kill to stay in power. I guess in the spirit of freedom and democracy, such example should belong to the past. And as citizens of the world, we have a responsibility to make this happen. The world needs to pressure Assad to stop this war and to resign from power. The first step is to express out loud our support to the struggle of the Syrian people against the oppression of the regime of Bashar Al Assad. Secondly, we got a responsibility to ask our governments to stop the formal communication channel with the Assad regime. From here, I am asking the government of my country to ask the Syrian Ambassador in Morocco to leave.
As a citizen, I see no point in the presence of an ambassador representing a regime whose legitimacy has long been lost, a regime that defies the world and continues its violation of human rights in the cruelest ways. Syrian Embassies are a representation of a regime that made its stance clear to the world: killing innocents without mercy including women and children. Therefore, it is important at this historical moment to clarify with whom we side. From here, I ask my country’s government to send a strong signal of its commitment to democratic values. From here, I ask my country, along with the other countries, to make a collective gesture and to close Syrian embassies- and sooner rather than later.
It is important to further increase pressure on the Assad regime, because the world cannot afford an abortion of Syrian people’s fundamental freedom of living safely in their own country. Finally, if the world betrays its commitment to the safety of innocent civilians in Syria now, I do not see any way to morally justify (later on) the lack of a prompt intervention that ends the bloody cycle of violence.
Syrians will surely heal from those wounds, I have no doubt about; but they will never forget those who gave them up at a crucial moment of their history. Let’s not make this a bitter lesson learned for Syrians, if not for the sake of the world’s stability, it will be at least for the sake of morality.
Saoussane Rifai is a graduate student in the Coexistence and Conflict Program at Brandeis University in Boston, Massachusetts.