2011 saw the beginning of the current war and resultant humanitarian crisis in Syria. In fact, its refugee crisis is the greatest the world has ever seen since World War II. Yet, rarely do we see a concerted effort to promote policies that evoke the type of empathy that we feel when we reminisce about the horrible atrocities committed during the last great World War. We hear phrases like “never again,” yet we clearly have returned to an eerily familiar situation. With the rise of White Nationalism and the normalization of neo-Nazism in global political discourse, humanity has clearly failed to learn its lessons of the past. Or perhaps, we have chosen to forget.
The part that bothers me the most is how much our own humanity has evaporated as a result of the larger political discourse. People are increasingly suspicious of foreigners, and there is a fear that refugees are inherent threats to the nations they settle in. Current citizens may feel an inkling of regret doing so, but they have essentially chosen to close the doors of their homes to people in need in the name of eliminating every minuscule possibility of danger. Ironic how such a possibility may not let them sleep at night, while the knowledge that they have turned away people fleeing literal destruction does not.
People are selfish I suppose. Fear can cause people to act that way, no matter how irrational it actually is. If we look at the facts, then we find that literally no Syrian refugee that has been vetted has been a security threat to the United States. None. Zero. The last terror attacks that were committed on American soil have come from people of other national backgrounds (Pakistan, Chechnya, and American-born) yet inexplicably, Syrians are the ones made to bear the burden of guilt for terrorism. On the off chance an actual terrorist would pretend to be a refugee and sneak into the U.S. Right, makes perfect sense. Too bad, little children! Go back to being barrel-bombed. Hope you sleep nice and sound!
As the actual facts have shown, it is much easier for terrorists to home-grow attackers than it is to sneak them through refugee vetting committees. Why go through the extra layers of security if you can avoid them? That’s what happened in the case of Brussels and Nice. In the case of the United States, home-grown attackers have always acted alone, in self-professed allegiance to a terrorist group not as an actual coordinated attack. It would seem that ISIS is still preoccupied with growing its power in the Middle East. We can only pray that they are destroyed as a result of their own evil deeds, and not allowed to expand their operations.
But strangely enough, the situation in Syria has progressed to point on the political spectrum which does not bode well for the future of the country. The culprit of the vast, vast majority of the mass murder in this war is none other the Bashar al Assad. No other group, rebel or terrorist alike, even comes close. He’s the reason the peaceful protests even began way back in at the dawn of the Arab Spring; ordinary citizens wanted this man and his mafia rule to leave. But despite that fact, the United States has positioned itself to become more friendly with the dictator’s primary benefactor, Russia’s Vladimir Putin. Putin has been supplying Assad with war planes, barrel bombs, and even soldiers on the ground (along with Iran and Hezbollah). And yet, with all that support, it is the Free Syrian Army and rebel locations that they target. Not ISIS bases. One has to wonder, what game is being played here?
In a war, murder will necessarily occur on all sides of the battle. But in the case of Syria, symmetry does not exist. One would think that if you were to try an support a side, you would support the side that is less murderous and less genocidal. But I find it so strange, and disheartening, to see ordinary Americans support a ruthless dictator who has already killed hundreds of thousands of his own people, just because there is possibility that his replacement would be worse. How are you so sure it would be? If you want to weigh a side, you do so based on facts not on vague premonitions of potentials or hypotheticals. As a judgment call often made in the comfort of the first world, it is such an arrogant thing to say to the face of the people being murdered right now, as we speak. The poor Syrians themselves have begged for help since the day the protests turned violent, and people got grossed out at the possibility of Islamism so much they turned a blind eye to Assad just because he’s supposedly secular (yes, people say that despite his alliance with Iran and Hezbollah). Playing the ideology game does not work when it forces you to ignore literal mass murder.
I understand the fear of the spread of Islamic Radicalism, and I agree it must be stopped, just like any other type of violent radicalism. But supporting the root cause of the conflict that caused ISIS to enter Syria in the first place is the exact opposite thing we should be doing to stop them. The prolonged civil war has only gifted ISIS a reason to exist, especially with Assad killing civilians continuously while miraculously sparing ISIS itself. You really cannot defeat ideology through direct warfare with its adherents; you have to eliminate the reason for its existence, and only then will people stop joining it. In Syria, the reason the civil war exists, and the reason why people even join ISIS, is the Assad regime itself. This is vastly different to the situation in Iraq, which had no such situation upon its invasion. Removing Assad may indeed cause a power vacuum, and fighting will likely occur as a result, but it would shift the purpose of the war away from mass atrocity and more towards state-building. ISIS would have had a hard time flourishing if people were simply given a better alternative.
Unfortunately, there is not much of the country to be salvaged anymore, so it is really unknown how this conflict can resolve. Keeping Assad in power would only serve to invalidate the whole war, and so the people will remain resistant until their last breath to prevent that from happening. Forget about the ethical problems, it’s simply impractical at this point due to how much blood that the Assad regime has on its hands. It would be like saying we need to negotiate peace with Hitler, not remove him from power. It’s blindingly absurd.
We live in a dangerous time, one of our own making. We refuse to listen to fellow mankind when they tell us what they need, and we turn away the lowly of society out of arrogance. One day, a threshold will be breached and our selfish policies will come back to bite us. As history continues to teach us, you cannot build a status quo on injustice. It is God’s way to allow atrocities to occur so that the evil in people’s hearts become manifest evidence against them, and a pure-hearted people’s perseverance and hardship will become are manifest evidence for them.
Nothing is truly lost, everything is meaningful, and everybody’s decisions are a burden upon their souls. May Allah lighten the burden on his believers, elevate them, and grant them paradise, and may He exact perfect vengeance on the tyrants of the world as He has never failed to do in the past!