ALEPPO the shame of the world
Published on September 24, 2016
Anne Davison Writer and Lecturer
I usually only write a post when I feel an all-consuming rage or passion rising within me. My first ever post, in November 2014, is a case in point. It was provoked by a report that:
The British Government is prepared to accept a suggested EU ruling from Brussels that ‘the best way to discourage refugees from north Africa from seeking a better life is to let them drown ’ ( Paddy Ashdown ‘An inhumane answer to the Mediterranean migrants’ plight ’FT Weekend 1st November 2014).
Since that time hundreds, probably thousands, of innocent men women and children have indeed drowned in the Mediterranean Sea. Thousands have suffered untold hardship trekking through mud and snow across Europe only to find barbed wire and walls blocking their way. Today thousands more are trapped in ‘camps’ in countries such as Greece, Turkey and France. And millions more in Syria are either displaced or held captive at the brutal hands of Daesh.
Occasionally, as the world looks on, there is a short-lived outcry at the horrors we are witnessing. The sight of the body of the little boy washed up on a beach for example and more recently the bewildered child smothered in ash wiping the blood from his eyes. But very quickly our outrage subsides. We say to ourselves: ‘Yes, it’s awful, but what can we do about it?’ And so we move on. We return to our own immediate problems and our own little world. But it doesn’t feel very comfortable because deep down I’m sure most of us feel that we MUST be able to do something.
It has often felt to me that it can’t get any worse. But it can and it has. The bombing of Aleppo over the past few days is causing perhaps the worst ever suffering of innocent people in this conflict to date. Horrific images of children being pulled from rubble. Many already on the point of starvation now have no water. I don’t need to catalogue the details of what appears to be the annihilation of an ancient and beautiful city along with its innocent people. You can see it all for yourselves daily on the TV screens.
So, back to the question: What can we do about it?
Things don’t look good.
• Attempts at a recent cease fire unsurprisingly broke down.
• Bringing people around the table for talks is fraught with difficulties because there are literally hundreds of different factions involved in the fighting apart from Syria, Daesh and the more liberal opposition groups.
• With the help of Russia, Iran and the Hezbollah of Lebanon Syria is gaining strength.
• The Arab states, while perhaps supporting the various ‘rebel’ groups, are noticeable by their absence.
• The role of Turkey, apart from wanting to crush all the Kurds, is to say the least, unclear.
What about the ‘West’?
• The European Union has been unable to control the mass migrations.
• Germany’s open policy towards refugees has backfired. In fact, right across Europe the mass influx of refugees and migrants has resulted in a nasty Right Wing and xenophobic backlash.
What distresses me most is the response, or lack of it, of the two remaining parties: the United States and the United Kingdom.
• Both countries are at a critical moment politically.
• But both counties have one thing in common. They are both claiming to make their country ‘Great again’. That is Donald Trump’s war-cry and it was the same for many within the Leave Campaign who wanted to take back control and make Britain ‘Great again’.
But what does it mean to be a great nation?
• Does it mean building walls and fences and doing all in our power to keep people out?
• Does it mean looking inwards and selfishly taking care of our own needs with no concern for the rest of the world? Surely this route only leads to isolation and atrophy.
No, history has taught us that the greatest powers have been those who are outward looking, generous in spirit and above all with a sense of global responsibility towards both our people and our planet.
What we are seeing is a meanness of spirit that is fueled by a false sense of fear. And every day we are failing the people of Aleppo. Shame on us.
You are obviously a very caring person. However, you should be careful how this trait is abused. You are concerned about the “refugees.” 80% of the “refugees” are young males. What type of character runs off during a conflict, leaving his wife, mother, sister and children behind? Among them are many potentially productive people. However, many have displayed a sense of ingratitude and a tendency to commit violent crime. (People who comment on this are labeled Nazis.) You write about children being victimized. This is a favorite propaganda tool. Have you seen the photo of the child’s body on the street in Nice?
You criticize Russia for supporting Syria. Are you critical of the U.S. for supporting the rebels. There is evidence that U.S. policies have created this conflict. The first violations of the cease fire was the U.S. bombing of Dayr Az Zawr. This “accident” could easily be interpreted as an act of war. Our Noble Peace Prize winning president did not gat approval from Congress for this.
There is a middle ground between “looking inwards and selfishly taking care of our own needs with no concern for the rest of the world” and being the world’s policeman. This administration’s efforts to fundamentally transform the Middle East have been a disaster. The “Arab Spring” has left Libya in chaos.