On June 28, an offensive against the
Islamic State led by the US backed Syrian rebels who were trained by the Pentagon
miserably failed as the US fighter jets failed to provide the most important strategic
element – the air cover. They instead chose to divert the planes to another
target in Iraq. The result – the rebels had to retreat incurring heavy loss –
along with the fear psychosis that the US may now abandon them mid way in
future operations. Okay, that may be like stretching it too far as the US has
justified its move, but when we see the human crisis in Syria – when we see the
biggest human travesty since the Second World War – it gives enough room to
question the intentions of the world community – and the US decision to divert
its fighter jets is just symptomatic of that.
After the Holocaust, Syria is the biggest
horror humanity has seen and to make the matters even worse, it is still
ongoing with no end in sight.
On one side, an emboldened
dictator-cum-mercenary-cum-warlord-cum-butcher, after the Russian support
(courtesy another dictator), is slaying his own countrymen in flocks, using
even the chemical weapons.
Then there are terror outfits like the
Islamic State or the Al Qaeda affiliates or even the Syrian rebel factions.
They have sandwiched the common Syrians –
killing them, forcing them to live under siege or forcing them to flee the
country – to a place where they don’t know if they will see the next dawn.
This ongoing horror has given us another
event that once again raises questions on us being the members of a globalized
world run by a globalized code with a unifying organization like the United
Nations. Almost the whole globe is member of the UN.
Events like Syria say the UN is failing;
the world community is failing – because the Syrian crisis/civil war is now in
its sixth year while the major police nations of the world, who invade an
Afghanistan, an Iraq or a Libya, have let that happen. Afghanistan invasion
could have been the spontaneous response to the 9/11 attacks in the US but the
flimsy grounds on which the Iraq offensive had been launched had always been in
questions. The latest British public inquiry report into the Iraq war, the
Chilcot Report, which was submitted on July 6, states that Saddam Hussein
didn’t pose imminent threat and that the war should have been averted.
In this globalized world, Syria has become
the only war-torn/civil-war-hit country to see a decline in its population –
with hundreds of thousands killed and millions displaced. Syrians are the
biggest migrants group in Europe – those who have got asylum – those who are
still waiting in the ‘nowhere’ zone – and those who lost their lives while
trying to reach those elusive borders of the European continent.
The never-ending Syrian crisis has forced
the biggest migration of people since the Second World War – a wave that the
European countries are feeling too difficult a crisis to handle. Last year, in
2015, there were more 1.3 million migrants seeking asylum in Europe and the
pack was led by Syria.
According to reports, since the crisis
began in 2011, Syria has seen some 11.5% decline in its population. From this
assessment, if the pre-conflict Syrian population in 2010 was 21.5 million, it
should be around 19 million now. According to the Syrian Centre for Policy
Research, the five years of Syrian civil war has killed some 470,000 Syrians
while some 480,000 are forced to live under siege.
But when we count in the ongoing refugee
crisis in Europe or the Syrian refugee crisis in totality, the inland Syrian
population looks even thinner. Some 5 to 6 million Syrians are in different
refugee camps – in Turkey, Lebanon, and Jordan and in many European countries.
This – the population decline – has not
been seen even in the war-torn nations and the crisis hotbeds like Somalia,
Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Yemen.
Now compare this to the other major ongoing
war theatres in the world – Iraq and Afghanistan.
A study report by some universities
including the University of Washington in 2013 stated that over 5,00,000 people
were killed in the ongoing Iraq war since its beginning in 2003. Iraq Body
Count, a Britain based organisation that collects its information from media
reports, puts the count to around 2,50,000.
An MIT report (Iraq: The Human Cost) says
the ongoing Iraq war has displaced around 3.5 million to 5 million people. But
the figure includes both internal and external refugees. Here we need to keep
in mind that the external Iraqi refugees were basically in the camps of Jordan
and Syria. So it is a double blow for them – first they had to leave their home
for Syria. And then even Syria!
In Afghanistan, the ongoing war since the
US led invasion in 2001 had killed around 1,00,000 by December 2014 as per a
Brown University report. The same report puts the Afghan refugee count to
around 2.7 million whereas the war has displaced over 7,00,000 internally.
The Afghan war has been ongoing since the
last 15 years – and the Iraq war since the last 13. Yet, the Syrian war has
overshadowed both of them in terms of the human cost of the war – in a span of
just six years – in terms of human lives lost – and in terms of humans lives
displaced. To make things worse, unlike the Afghani and Iraqi migrants, who
basically migrate to the countries sharing land borders, the Syrian refugees
are forced to cross the Mediterranean Sea which killed around 4000 of them in
And there is no end in sight. The dictator,
the rebels, the lynchpin and the “occasional vigilantes’ (the police nations of
the world) – all are out there – frozen on their respective poles – even if it
means half a million killed – half a million internally displaced – and six
million in refugee camps.
Hundreds of thousands of Syrians have died.
Hundreds of thousands are in danger zones, facing imminent threat to their
lives. Hundreds of thousands are starving to death. Millions in refugee camps
are stuck not knowing what to do with their lives. Majority of schools and
hospitals in Syria are gone, ruined or annihilated in the ongoing war.
It is the next Holocaust the world has
created – like it had done with Adolf Hitler. The first Holocaust was in making
much before the organised pogrom began on a large scale in 1940 but the world
refused to intervene – something that finally ended up killed around 10 million
including the six million Jews.
Where the Syrian Holocaust would end?