Syria: a Country in Flames
By: Mujahed M Diraneyya
By the beginning of the 20th century our globe was full of dictators, who have soon driven the World towards two enormous devastative conflicts, WW1 & WW2, destroying many countries and causing millions of deaths worldwide.
Dictators-free World was one of the major dreams of new generations. By the end of the century many dictators have gone away, with only few remaining around. Soon Augusto Pinochet and few others followed, leaving only two dictatorships in the World: Kim family in North Korea and Assad family in Syria, of which Assad was the worst.
Since Assad and his “Bath” party took over power fifty years ago, Syria turned into a huge prison and all Syrians became much like hostages or prisoners. Any citizen could be detained for any excuse or for no excuse at all. Even tracing detained people was a risk. Many individuals have disappeared when trying to look for an imprisoned relative, a son or a father. Soon people learned not to ask for the disappeared beloved ones.
Assad has turned Syria into a private property where all Syrians were treated as labors or slaves. Their lives and properties were at the fingertips of his will. When a scholar wrote a history of modern Syria he found no better expression to describe Syria rather than “Assad’s farm”. In fact it was an evil copy of George Orwell’s Animal Farm, only much longer and more savage.
Few nations have ever suffered what Syrians did in the past fifty years; surely none is still suffering so much in the twenty first century. While people all over the World enjoyed freedom of speech Syrians’ whispers were recorded and their breaths counted. None was able to express his thoughts, not even in private.
A famous novelist was imprisoned in Syria’s Bastille, Tadmor (Palmyra) prison, for eleven years. He had miraculously escaped death under torture while thousands of his companions didn’t. He knew his crime only upon leaving prison: it was a joke he once told about late dictator Hafiz Assad in a private party. The invitees laughed. One of them reported the incident. The “criminal” was sentenced eleven years in Syria’s Bastille for making fun of Syria’s dictator. Thus people lived in Syria for decades.
For fifty years Syrians were prevented from expressing their thoughts, telling their dreams, not to mention criticizing their rulers. For fifty years Syrians lacked freedom, dignity, and choice. In a word: they lacked their humanity, and eventually they lost hope.
Suddenly a revolution broke out in Tunisia, leading to the fall of its president, Bin Ali. Soon the flames spread to Egypt, Yemen, and Libya. The Arab Spring has flowered. Many people in Syria and abroad started wondering: would it ever reach Syria? Pessimists said: No. Optimists said: yes, it might, but surely it would be the last in the queue.
The surprise was shocking. In 15th of Mach 2011 some rebels walked in the streets of Damascus shouting for freedom in a unique scene in Syria, a scene never seen in 48 years. Three days later demonstrations broke out in ten major cities in Syria. Four people have been killed in southern city of Dara when police opened fire against the angry crowds. During the following weeks people flooded the streets of Syrian towns and cities. Tens of thousands were reported in the early demonstration days, increasing to hundreds of thousands in few weeks, and hence to millions.
The volcano has exploded.
Day after day the revolt grew up, spreading over the whole of Syria and reaching hundreds of destinations. All what people wanted was freedom. Assad’s regime responded first with snipers, hitting tens of demonstrators a day, while committing once every few weeks a massacre causing hundreds of victims. Yet, the revolution was building up and gaining more impact every week.
Soon the regime started losing control. In a desperate action a decision was taken to push the Army into conflict. During the successive two months army troops invaded Dara, Nawa, Hims, Rastan, Talbesa, Dirazzour, and many other smaller towns. Eventually army troops broke in to the famous city of Hama by the beginning of Ramadan (August 1st 2011).
The nightmare has awakened; gloomy memories of the 80s are back. Syrians knew: it was their final crucial battle with Assad and his regime; reversion is no more an available choice.
Soldiers started disobeying orders to kill civilians. Many dissociated themselves from their units and fled. Some even gathered and formed small guerilla units to defend civilians. Thus the free Syrian army (FSA) was born. Only few FSA battalions existed at the beginning, but they increased quickly when the savage campaign the regime released against civilians soared. By the end of 2012 there were more than 1000 FSA battalions all over Syria, with some 100,000 – 200,000 warriors in total.
By the middle of 2012 dozens of districts throughout Syria were under heavy fire. The army was trying desperately to terminate the revolution, shelling inhabited cities and towns with hundreds of tons of explosives. Heavy guns, battle tanks, combat aircrafts, and even ballistic SCUD missiles were fired against civic regions. Daily death toll exceeded one hundred by far.
It was a savage assault against an armless nation.
What has initially started as a limited revolution has eventually turned into fierce “independence war”, not less destructive than any independence war elsewhere in history. So far almost 130,000 people died, hundreds of thousands injured, more than 300,000 detained, tens of thousands of women raped, and thousands of civilians tortured to death. More than one million houses have been totally or partially destroyed, leaving up to six million people homeless within Syria, while two million fled to neighboring countries to live as refuges.
Moreover, when Assad regime failed to put an end to nation’s revolt he turned to his allies, receiving endless unlimited support. Russia supported Assad with arms and diplomacy. Iran went much further, providing almost everything – arms, money, and manpower. More than 50,000 troops of Iranian, Iraqi, and Lebanese Shiite militias are fighting currently in Syria beside Assad, not to mention thousands of Shiite warriors coming from Yemen, Pakistan, and Afghanistan as well.
In brief: World is witnessing one of the most agonizing tragedies in modern history. While the Syrian people are totally abandoned and left to their destiny, the assassin regime is receiving an infinite advocacy from his allies.
What can I do? A question every Muslim should ask, a question millions of Muslims might have been already asking.
Everyone can do something, everyone must do something, starting by becoming aware of the tragedy, and hence awakening others. Let everyone consider himself a commissioner, an ambassador on behalf of Syria and Syrians. The whole World must become aware of the crimes of Assad and his regime. This is the essential and starting point.
Syrians also need support. As we saw, Shiites of the World are backing Assad and providing him with unlimited support. They are doing so because they knew it was their absolute battle against the Sunni nation, not only against the Syrian people. Islam will be the major loser, not the Syrians, unless Muslims over the world consider Syria’s battle a strategic conflict as well.
Syrians acknowledged many times and are still stressing: they need no manpower. They are self-sufficient with warriors so far. They seriously lack food and shelter for millions of homeless and hungry people, medication for countless sick and wounded, and arms and ammunition for mujahedeen.
Dear Muslim brothers: You might fail to convey all or any of the above needs, but you can definitely provide the key element: money. However we consider the crisis we will end up with the same conclusion: money is the bottleneck of every relieving action and is the vein of any effectual support.
Avoid personal links as much as possible and look for reliable and trustworthy organizations. For your reference I am copying below a link which will lead you to a list of well-known organizations in Syria, for which donations are accepted through bank accounts, credit cards, or even PayPal account.
Finally -and ahead of all- is du’a. Never forget your devastated brothers in Syria in your prayers. May Allah put an early end to Syrians’ ordeal and bless them with a near great victory.