Before Syria was turned into a nation of ghosts and nightmares and before millions of Syrians were dispersed into the unknown and before hundreds of thousands were brutally killed.. Not a very long time ago.. Only a short thirty one months ago, there was an honest nonviolent uprising in Syria; and there was a dictator speaking calmly to the media, pretending to believe in reform which goes like this: “1, 2, 3, 4...” and, “You cannot start with 6 and then go back to 1,” as he said to the Wall Street Journal a week before a few brave Syrians dared to stage the first protest against him and his regime.
As we face a brand new phase in what has become a multinational crisis that threatens not just the Middle East but crosses borders and continents to bring back a modern-day Cold War that might not be as cold as its predecessor, it is high time we understand how we reached this point. At this turning point, let us stress, although it won’t make any difference now, that the Syrian uprising was brave in its nonviolence and had very good chances of success had it been supported properly and consistently by the region and the world. Instead, Mr. Assad knew to jump to “6” in his own version of “reform” anytime he wanted to, which meant raising the pressure on dissent, cracking down on protesters, arresting them and even killing them, and destroying the entire country and exterminating entire villages. In other words, doing everything he can to suppress anything and anyone in his opposition. He even went to 7, 8, 9 and 10 all the way back to below 0 from there. The world watched as more lethal elements got into the mix and the situation became more complex and even impossible to handle.
You see, when a leader gases his own people, there is no point of return from there. People ask what is the difference between killing your people using conventional warfare and killing them with weapons of mass destruction. It’s a fair question, but when you’re willing to annihilate, you’re playing god, you have no remorse, there is nothing that will stop you after that.. Absolutely nothing! Gassing your own people to shut down dissent as Saddam Hussein and Hafez al-Assad did before and now Bashar al-Assad is accused of doing are points of no return. After that point, you can only expect the behavior to become more violent and more lethal to protect one’s position.
By supporting Bashar al-Assad after all what he has done in the past three years, Russia shows desperation that spills very bad news for the region. This means the Middle East is going towards more extremism rather than moderation, more crackdown rather than dialogue and inclusion. The already hardened positions will get harder and the fighting will get bloodier, deadlier and won’t exclude anyone.
This brings me back to Syria’s Chemical weapons which only recently Bashar al-Assad admitted to having. This admission is meant to simply derail and delay his ultimate disgraceful fall. When Israel bombed “suspected chemical weapons” facilities within Syria in 2009, Assad denied having them. When Israel bombed several Syrian and Iranian convoys “suspected of carrying chemical warfare agents to Hezbollah in Lebanon,” Assad also indirectly denied and the world pretended it did not happen. Now, if we look back and read some dictatorial bloody minds, unafraid and even seeking annihilation, Assad’s “1, 2, 3, 4…” makes perfect sense. With Israel’s known weapons of mass destruction arsenal also ready for use, and warmongers on all sides, the possible scenarios are bleak.
This innocent game of Hide and Seek that children play around their neighborhoods to pass time, is also an eternal dictatorial tactic with genocidal aims, and one reason too many to be pessimistic and afraid about the future!