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 2015.
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?