The ongoing Syria crisis, described as the ‘greatest humanitarian disaster since WWII’ continues to shock and appal in equal measure, and it’s not hard to see why.
As the world wakes up to the realisation that these refugees are not freeloaders after all, but are literally fighting for their very existence, and are willing to risk life and limb to be allowed settlement in Europe.
Since the Arab spring in 2011, the Assad regime has struggled to maintain control with the rise of the various rebel groups such as the Free Syrian Army and ISIS among them.
There have been an estimated 11 million Syrian people displaced, which equates to half of the population of the country, and more than 50% of these are children. With over 220 thousand deaths so far and climbing; a lack of hospital care, basic sanitation or shelter and the threat of being an unwitting victim of the ensuing violence on a daily basis, life can appear very bleak for those that choose to remain.
How to manage the sheer influx of refugees is at issue, causing tension and infighting across the European political landscape, but just who is fanning the flames and allowing this crisis to flourish?
Assad the tyrant or more Western propaganda?
Does the Syrian president Bashar al-Assad have a point when he argues that this is a clear case of propaganda by the West to demonize him in the eyes of the world, creating the ideal climate to pursue their aims? He states that he could have dealt with the terrorists at the outset, more than likely defeating them within a matter of weeks, had it not been for foreign intervention that has allowed the terrorists to strengthen their resolve with a constant supply line being presented to them from sources such as Western allies and Saudi Arabia, providing extra military personnel, equipment, training and funds to continue their campaign.
One of the most serious accusations levelled at Assad has been the use of Barrel bombs, metal containers packed with oil, explosives and shrapnel which are then dropped from aircraft. These are said to deliberately target civilians, which have reportedly killed more people than ISIS and Al Qaeda combined.
In interviews, Assad has scoffed at the suggestion that he would deliberately target his own people, calling the barrel bombs ‘cooking pots’, and says this would be ‘illogical’ as his soldiers are Syrian, and his armies would simply implode if it were known that possibly their own families and friends were being killed on their president’s orders, and would not therefore, be conducive to maintaining a motivated and committed fighting force.
Assad states with conviction that he would be willing to talk with anyone with sincere intentions of eradicating terrorism. He goes on to say that the doctrine of the terrorists does not allow for discussion, and is futile as their only wish is to establish an Islamic state and that they do this by systematically making civilians desperate and reliant on support…any support…their support.
A geopolitical chess game
Russia, supporters of the Assad regime, are looking to strengthen their position in the world in Eurasia, and the West are unsurprisingly vying to curtail their ambitions, with Syria holding a strategic position, and essentially the location where this power struggle will be fought.
To describe Bashar al-Assad as innocent may be a step too far, but allegations of using chemical weapons against Syrians are baseless at best. How could we possibly know if this were true and is not merely a fantasy dreamt up by Western powers, much like the weapons of mass destruction narrative we now know was a fabrication for the Iraq war in 2003. Assad may well be the victim of what amounts to a ‘coup’, with evidence that this intervention has been long in the planning, stretching as far back as 2006, instigated by forces wishing to see his removal and a Western puppet installed in his place.
No one is going to tap us on the shoulder and reveal the truth of it, but we should at least remain sceptical and keep an open mind, rather than following the herd, and risk stepping in something that they often like to shovel our way.