Thursday June 20, 2024

Crisis of humanity

By Dr Ramesh Kumar Vankwani
April 27, 2018

Syria is considered one of the oldest civilisations of the world. Historians also connect ancient Syria with Hinduism. Syria was the first place, to record inscriptions of Rigveda in Sanskrit, which is said to have been first spoken in Syria. There are also many similarities between the Hindus and Yazidis, the most vulnerable minority group.

Although the teachings of every religion have highlighted the land of Syria in very positive ways, the country is currently facing the worst kind of civil war. As many as 500,000 innocent people have lost their lives while around 1000,000 causalities are reported as a result of the ongoing seven-year civil war. Thousands of Syrian families are trying to take refuge either in neighbouring countries or in Europe.

Historically, Syria was occupied by France after the defeat of the Ottoman Empire in last century. World War II resulted in the independence of Syria. Hafez al-Assad took command of Syria in 1970s. Being a dictator, he adopted the Soviet model of one-party rule to strengthen his Ba’ath Party.

After the demise of Hafez al-Assad in 2000, his son Bashar al-Assad took over the mighty office of president of Syria. This was the era when the Soviet Union had collapsed and newly-liberated former Soviet states were adopting democracy. The US attack on neighbouring Iraq further destabilised the Middle East region. Initially, the Syrian people and the international community were very optimistic about Assad and democratic reforms. Unfortunately, Assad proved himself to be yet another dictator.

The Arab Spring toppled various regimes in the Middle East and adjoining areas. Similarly, large number of Syrian people also came out on the streets to demand political reforms and civil rights. Instead of listening to his people, Assad decided to seek military support from foreign players.

On his invitation, the Russian air force is carrying out brutal strikes against rebels. Russian military advisors and special operations forces are also stationed in Syria, and Russia is repeatedly using its veto power in the UN Security Council in support of the Assad regime.

Iran, another most important ally of Assad, is empowering him to suppress the resistance. The involvement of Iran has ignited other regional countries to interfere in the Syrian civil war. Saudi Arabia is of the view that the solution of the Syrian crisis is not possible with Assad in power. According to media reports, Saudi Arabia is providing military and financial assistance to various rebel groups.

Turkey is also a key supporter of the Syrian opposition. The Turkish government is accused of allowing foreign fighters, arms shipments and refugees to pass through its territory. Moreover, Turkey also agreed to let the US-led coalition use its air bases for strikes on Syria.

Another neighbour, Israel, is afraid of the Syrian role in support of the Palestinian freedom struggle. It seems that Israel sees unrest in Syria in its best interest. Reportedly, the Israeli air force is also involved in the bombing on Syria. On the other hand, the UN, European Union and international community are in favour of a peaceful solution to the Syrian crisis. Similarly, Pakistan also seeks a diplomatic solution, and stresses the need to respect the sovereignty of Syria.

The presence of various foreign countries has made the Syrian crisis very complicated. Involved in their proxy wars, nobody is thinking about the miseries of the innocent Syrian people. Another factor behind the unrest is the arms industry. For the sake of money, Syria has regrettably turned into the world’s biggest market of weapons.

I think it was a grave mistake of Assad to invite foreign powers to save his government. He must understand that a ruler has no right to rule if he fails to provide a peaceful society. Taking back control of territories at the cost of people’s lives can’t be called victory. Assad must step down voluntarily for the sake of innocent citizens. There is also a dire need for a no-fly zone and for deploying UN peace missions in Syria to prevent further war crimes.

The writer is a member of the National Assembly and patron-in-chief of the Pakistan Hindu Council.

Twitter: @RVankwani