May 16, 2013

Spinning the tragic Syria crisis won’t help stop it

    Thursday, May 16, 2013   No comments

by Ahmed E. Souaiaia*

Syrian rebels executing Alawites
Yesterday, responding to a Qatar-sponsored resolution, the U.N. General Assembly “condemned Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's forces and praised the opposition.” A day before that, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that “at least 94,000 people have been killed during Syria's two-year conflict, but the death toll is likely to be as high as 120,000.” The group, known for its opposition to the Syrian regime, added that “at least 41,000 of those confirmed killed were Alawites, the sect of President Bashar al-Assad.” During several weeks leading to the vote, a gruesome video was circulating on the Internet. In the video, a leader of the Syrian opposition, whose identity was confirmed by human rights organizations and news media, was shown cutting the body of a Syrian soldier open and chewing on his internal organs while threatening the Alawite minority with the same fate. 

The UN resolution was supported by 107 out of 193 nations. Without doubt, the majority of the 107 countries, representing political leaders, were swayed by the high deaths. But I doubt that the people (and perhaps leaders) of these countries knew about the fact that nearly 50% of those killed in Syria belonged to the group that constitutes merely 15% of the population. The campaign of propaganda and deception orchestrated by Qatar and its allies made the war in Syria appear to be a systematic killing of the majority Sunnis by a minority led government. The numbers show otherwise: Alawites are facing a real genocide. The condemnation of the violence committed by the regime and the praise of the opposition that is equally guilty of acts of atrocities does not help stop the violence in Syria. 

Politicizing the tragedy in Syria does not further the cause of peace and it does not save the lives of innocent people from all sects and ethnic groups. The racialization of victimhood builds more hatred and does not end suffering. The West and its allies in the Arab world can stop extremism and end violence by refraining from politicizing the Syrian crisis and trading with the Syrian blood. The UN resolution was the wrong move in the wrong time. The brutality of the Syrian regime should be condemned, but so should be the atrocities committed by opposition fighters. The numbers show that Alawites are facing genocide before their foes take power. One can only imagine the number of massacres that would take place once the opposition forces defeat the regime. Because of these facts, only a political solution to the Syrian crisis can safeguard life and property of all Syrians.
* Prof. SOUAIAIA teaches at the University of Iowa. Opinions are the author’s, speaking on matters of public interest; not speaking for the university or any other organization with which he is affiliated.


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