Syria: Why is the world just watching? – Dr. sima Barmania
The saying goes:
“All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing”.
This adage seems particulary pertinent to the Syrian crisis, as the world seems to be doing nothing.
Of course, words are juggled around — “catastrophe”, “brink of civil war”, “it’s bleak” — and condemnation offered, but none of this seems to instigate a transition from ineffectual words into positive action.
As the world acknowledges the latest massacre in Syria, in Qubair, we are all asking when the next bloodbath will occur.
But it is almost as if we are birds on a wire, tweeting away, saying “what a bad man”, but still comfortably perched.
On Sunday Bashar al Assad, a medical doctor, outrageously likened his actions to surgery in a speech to the Syrian parliament:
“When a surgeon in an operating room … cuts and cleans and amputates, and the wound bleeds, do we say to him your hands are stained with blood?”.
“Or do we thank him for saving the patient?”
The fact that bona fide Syrian surgeons in Homs such as those from Hand in Hand for Syria, a UK-based charity that provides medical aid to Syria, are tirelessly operating on civilian casualties caused by Assad’s troops makes the injustice of such words even more galling.
Dr Mousa al Kurdi had the experience of teaching a younger Bashar al Assad as a medical student and, when we sit down to talk about the conflict, is forthcoming in his description of Assad as a “monster”.
Al Kurdi, a Syrian gynaecologist living in Britain believes that what the Western world is actually viewing is “showing only a tiny proportion of what is happening”.
He witnessed the atrocities of Baba Amr and believes that any comparison between the Assad regime and other regimes in the region is false.
“This regime is unique”, he says.
“Firstly, Assad is trying to get all the religious minorities on side, pressurising the Alawites to back his regime and turning it into a sectarian conflict which it never was. Secondly, by using torture against women and children, not just for interrogation, but merely for the “pleasure of punishment for defiance” and thirdly because of the regime’s flagrant “denial and blaming of the atrocities on the extremists, jihadist and Al Qaeda”.
Al Kurdi believes a political crossroads has been reached where we need to consider: “What will happen the day after the fall of the Assad regime? ”.
The question is crucial and needs to be answered before any immediate action can be initiated.
The fear from the West is that there will be a political vacuum, which extremists will promptly occupy.
Al Kurdi proposes that to counteract the potential threat of post-Assad extremism with the “formation of a new body, representative of all the major players from all the sects, an inclusive policy all Syrians except those who were involved in the killings or corruption”.
He argues that the SNC (Syrian National Council) needs to decide on a way to represent all Syrians in a National Conference for Syria and believes adopting such an inclusive policy will have “profound positive effects” and “will reassure the region and the world that the interim period following the fall of the regime will be peaceful and cooperative instead of violent and chaotic”. This would, he argues, negate the ability of extremists to exploit the political or the security void.
The proposition is that the Syrian National Council would formulate a National Conference for Syria (NCS) with representation from the SNC, uprising groups on the ground, the Syrian Free Army, the internal opposition and all religious and ethnic minorities as well as intellectuals.
This National Conference for Syria would act as a parliament, for an interim period of 18 months or so and would have functional capabilities such as to select the “National Transitional Government, decide the constitutional Declaration for the interim period, overseeing the general election for Members of Parliament and of the future President” as well as other functions.
“There is a credible alternative, which is representative,” he says.
There is a common misconception that the Syrian uprising can bring down the regime by itself but Al Kurdi states categorically: “This is not Egypt; in Egypt the army was on the side of the protesters, the army didn’t kill people like in Syria”.
“Why is the world just watching?” he asks; I don’t know for sure whether his question is directed at me or in my audience, whether it’s just rhetorical or meant to be answered.
Why then? Perhaps a combination of many factors — a lack of understanding, the dehumanisation of war and a whole host of historical reasons that have bred a fear of mis-action — have lead to today’s inaction.
One thing is for sure, though: this paralysing procrastination by the international and regional community, which allows “good men to do nothing“ and “ this evil to flourish” leaves us all with blood on our hands.