Saying that this past week was a long week is an understatement. Syria and the Levant awaited the “imminent” but “limited” strike, barely able to imagine the immediate consequences on Syria and the wider repercussions on the region this attack would have had. The attack seems to have been averted, for the time being, with many feeling utterly disappointed and others terribly relieved. This standoff has brought many of the astonishing realities of this conflict to the forefront. Among them, the world’s double standards towards the Syrian war (practically ignoring the thousands of dead since 2011, while only jumping into possible action in the face of chemical weapons); history’s ironies of having the West’s opposition to the murderous Assad regime indirectly supporting its Islamic extremist enemies (including Jabhat al Nusra and Al Qaeda). The fact that Russia looks like the only one to hold the key to bringing any sort of viable solution to the table; and what’s more, the possible repetition of a limited Iraq-scenario whereby an overwhelming minority of hawkish interests (both in the US and France), coupled with overwhelming support and unlimited funding from autocratic Gulf regimes (mainly Qatar and Saudi Arabia), would have paved the way for a possible war they would watch and attempt to control from the comfort of their far away homes, untouched by the death and destruction on the ground.
A strike may have been averted for the time being, but the chapters of this sad tale are being written and continue to be written. Why? Because Assad remains in power and empowered. Because without chemical weapons (if and when Syria hands them over), Assad still enjoys a steady inflow of other deadly weapons, countered by a steadier flow to the opposition mainly funded by Gulf monarchies. Because neither sides in the conflict (and their respective allies) have the will or the vision for a viable and lasting political solution in the short-term. Because Syrians continue to flee their land and homes for the semblance of safety and security in neighboring lands (mainly Lebanon and Jordan) that can barely guarantee that to their own citizens. Because with increased threats against them, the exodus of Syria’s Christians will inflict an irreplaceable wound in the country’s national and social fabric. And because so long as another conflict is raging in the Middle East, no solution to any of the other major challenges faced by the region, most notably that of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, will ever be resolved.
Depressing? Obviously so. But then again, it has always been this way, but many have not cared to understand, or have they cared to notice. Others seem to relish in never-ending conflict in this God forsaken land, and yet others do everything in their power to keep it this way….