Friday, August 23, 2013

I Wonder How The Mothers Of Syria Slept Last Night?

I went to sleep last night feeling especially shell-shocked and shaken up by the images broadcast from the latest alleged atrocity in Syria. These days, we are so conditioned to see things that disturb us that often news pictures simply go straight to the part of our brain that holds stuff we've seen on CSI; stuff that we process as almost fictitious and fabricated with makeup and special effects. Last night though, as I watched vision of young children writhing and gasping for their last breath as victims of an alleged gas attack, it was simply too much to bear as a parent, and as a human being. 

Admittedly, my knowledge of the Syrian Civil War is pretty limited and I'll probably get totally schooled for writing this piece. That being said, what I believe is that it began as a protest against the existing government led by Bashar al-Assad who's family have been in power since the seventies. The protesters or rebels are made up of several unofficial forces such as defected soldiers, civilians and more recently supported by outside Islamic influences while the government's force is supported by Hezbollah, the party of Alah. Yes - say no more. It's several sides of religiously motivated evil attacking each other for power. Sounds pretty much like a textbook modern day war to me.

Despite my limited knowledge of the conflict, what seems to make this war especially vicious is the use of innocent civilians as tortured pawns in an unwinnable game of chess. We see snippets of news and all the stories look largely the same - blood, grief and people running with a battered child slung over their shoulder. We've seen these images countless times and they're immediately filed with all the others in our mind.  Sometime in the last two days, however there has been an incident which has taken most of us to the brink of comprehension. For me, it's somehow different this time and can't simply be filed away. Reports have stated that over a thousand people (many children) were this week lined up and gassed in a sickening display of what we could define as a form of genocide. Again, I tread carefully with my basic understanding of this conflict as some would argue that we cannot assume that this has actually taken place because nothing can be officially confirmed. Having said that though, whatever I witnessed on the news yesterday, was beyond horrific. Something had clearly taken place somewhere in the 'free' world and for me, it was a reminder of previous dark chapters in our history in Rwanda, Dafur and the unmentionable events at the time of World War II (because after all whether it's one life taken in such a way or tens of thousands, it's still horrific isn't it?).

 While I understand the notion of treading carefully and diplomatically (actually I understand it but I don't necessary support it), where is the uproar? Where is the worldwide empathy and plan of action? Why are we treading so carefully and quietly? Is there not the possibility that this war has escalated to include the use of chemical weapons? And why in Australia, is the story about the recent events in this conflict published in the newspaper squeezed in somewhere between James Hird and his defiance to keep his AFL coaching position and who's up for eviction of Big Brother?  To our leaders, I say please don't let our reluctance to even acknowledge these atrocities be about oil, commodities and political diplomacy. Please let a response be about the people of Syria and the children who make perfect pawns in this game of religious terror.

So I wonder how the mothers of Syria slept last night? How did you sleep? I slept with guilt and sadness for the parents who's children I had watched in the awful news vision before I turned out the light. What I find so hard to process is that while we sleep soundly in our beds and our children dream of the adventures of the next day, people are being subjected to a kind of terror that we find so difficult to imagine, so it becomes easier to ignore the conflict entirely. 


  1. A big reason why precious little will be done is on whose side should we join? ( apart from innocent civilians) The Syrian gov forces are backed by Hezbollah and Iran, and to much lesser extent Russia, and the rebels are backed by Al Qaida, the Ssudies and to much lesser extent, the US. The conflict in Syria is a microcosm of the bigger strategic conflict in the ME between Saudi Arabia and Iran. Russia won't support any UN action againdt the Syrian Gov via its veto in the security council. Basically the horrors will continue. There is no enthusiasm in the US for another ME adventure, so forget about them and no one in the west Is interested in peace keeping there.

    1. Well said, Anon. That's a really insightful comment and goes a long way in explaining the lunacy of this conflict and why we are seeing it escalate so horribly. Thanks for sharing.