Has the world failed Syria?

Syria by far tops the world list of people forcibly displaced by conflict. How can we let the regime and Al Queda linked rebels get away with the unprecedented carnage? Join Antonio Guterres, UN High Commissioner for Refugees, visiting and talking to Syrian refugees in Jordan:

The video speaks for itself. More than 40 percent of Syria’s pre-conflict population is displaced externally or internally. Half of them are children.

But that’s not all, unfortunately. The atrocities mentioned in the video are only part of what Syrians have to endure. Human trafficking is a huge problem. Syrian girls and children are being exploited for prostitution and sold at auctions. 

syria, civil war, atrocities
Children should not grow up in an environment where violent death is a daily feature.

Syria is a rapidly growing humanitarian catastrophe. Approximately 5.5 million children still live in the war-torn country and daily experience extreme violence and  have to manage without health-care and education.  The severe psychological distress they endure will, needless to say, damage them for life. 

At the moment the regime is in control of about a quarter of the country while the remaining three-quarters is held by different rebel groups fighting each other.

How could it get that bad? By collaborating with Al-Queda linked rebel groups the Syrian regime has effectively managed to get rid of most moderate rebels. And the jihadists are definitely not a palatable option to  the regime. Mass executions of detainees is their name of the game. Understandably, Syrians opposing Assad are even less keen on living in an area occupied by Al-Queda linked groups. They are in other words between a rock and a hard place, which is just what the regime wanted. Makes Assad look like the lesser evil.  

Do you agree that the cycle of death in Syria has to end? Should heads of states that follow in Stalin’s footsteps and starve and slaughter their people be sent to the ICC in The Hague? Is it really OK that the UN Security Council allows Russia to take such a tyrant under their wings and prolong the suffering of the Syrian people? If so, do we really have a world order that works? Politics is politics, but the kind of atrocities being committed in Syria on a daily basis should be rejected by the whole international community. But maybe the most crucial question is if, after three years of slaughter, it’s possible to find a solution that will save Syria from more death and destruction? Has the world failed Syria?

Video: UNHCR – YouTube – Photo:  FreedomHouse

48 thoughts on “Has the world failed Syria?

  1. Hej Catarina, Fint post och analysis. But we have to think what is the solution to it. How can someone living outside solve this problem.

    1. True, Faisal. Catch is how can it be solved from within when the Syrians are between a rock and a hard place i.e. a tyrant that’s committing genocide and Al Queda. The horrible truth is that there is no good solution, at least not for the time being.

  2. So true, outsiders are taking advantage of the desire of Syrian citizens to get freedom from Assad regime.They did not get any freedom but instead attracted outsiders to take advantage and rob the country. It is responsibility of UN to pass a resolution and get involved. The best option-in my opinion n- would be to let Assad rule (not that I like him but seems like the only option) with a new democratic constitution and rest of the world including Syrians and Assad team up to chase away the evils.
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  3. I had no idea all this was going on in Syria. It is sad that the human race can inflict such pain and suffering on each other. The human race will always be filled with evil, but there is always hope, because where there is evil there is good. Maybe one day we can tip the scales in favor of more good 🙂
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  4. I am sad to see the situation in Syria

    It always happens that children and women … who are not taking part in war .. have to suffer…
    Same thing is happening in my Kashmir where children and women have to pay the price….. I hope you will write some day about Kashmir as well.

    I wish this problem to be settled… But what do you think , Is there any way for a peaceful dialog in such situation… how it can take place…. or how can Peace be restored…
    Because of lack of my knowledge I do not know anything about…
    Thank you for share.
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  5. I am just tired of the killing and wars going on all over the place. While we pour more and more money into defense and the military, our own people here in the United States are going to bed hungry more and more often. We need to take care of the problems here, before we stick our necks out into another embattled place overseas.
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    1. I agree with you Karen, we can't really help everyone else until we get our own house in order. It would be wonderful if we could find a way to help all of the people who are living in these horrible conditions but I don't know that there is a way. It is, however, fully worth the effort of trying.
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    1. Good way of putting it, Pat. The world is failing the world. Unfortunately the current world order prevents a solution. Russia due to the outcome of World War II has a permanent seat on the Security Council and can protect tyrants like Bashar Al Assad. Russia is not a super power and should not have a permanent seat and the ability to veto there.

  6. Catarina- It is nice to see you taking the time to reveal what most of us never discover. I don't know what the answer is with this tragedy, but I don't think is is war and violence is the way to go. I know what the Holocaust did to the Jews. The sad thing is you never get over it.
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    1. Glad you agree with me, Arleen. The conflict in Syria apparently involve fighters of 60 nationalities so something has to be done to at least stop the fighting. If not, it could develop into a regional war. Add the problems starting to come out of Russia and it may have an impact on the whole international community. And for what? Unfortunately quite a few men who are refugees from the area have left their new homelands in Europe to go back and fight for Al-Queda. If, which is a big if, they survive they are a lethal force that come back to Europe.

  7. I agree the world has failed Syria. It saddens me to know the desperation of the people and breaks my heart to know what those poor children are going through. I wish there was a solution, but it would seem that we are far from reaching that.
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  8. Has the world failed Syria depends partly on what one views as the worlds responsibility and the other realistic options. Anyone with a heart feels for the human suffering but things will not be materially better for several years after Assad is gone and without a shadow of doubt other forms of oppression will fill the void. Broad brush there are few instances where freedom has flourished after being imposed from outside and this was never one to add to the list.
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    1. The security council is supposed to take care of the world's responsibilities, Paul. However, the fact that Russia due to the outcome of World War II still has a permanent seat on it enables it to block any constructive movement there. Assad would have been contained a long time ago if that had not been the case.

  9. It's just a frightening, horrible thing to think of. Sometimes I can't read the news for 2-3 days with all the horrors of warfare
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  10. This breaks my heart Catarina. I just can't fathom why we let this continue. It so hard to witness it from afar and know I can do little to affect a change. All I can do is write to my country's powers to be and hope that they hear my voice in a way that will cause the wheels of change to start turning… BIG SIGH!
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    1. Yes, Susan, it is a big sigh. The current world order lets Russia literally get away with murder. The country is no longer a super power but due to the outcome of World War II has a permanent seat on the Security Council and can block any motion to put pressure on Assad.

  11. I agree that the world order has failed Syria but it seems to me that the world order continually fails nations around the globe. You don’t have to look that far back into history to have this type of tragedy play out again…the only difference being location. I applaud you for shedding extra light on this issue. To be honest I am at a loss for what can be done. I do not think more violence is the answer.
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  12. I learn so much from your site about international events. Right now Syria doesn't even seem to be on the map with the Czechnian (sp) seeming to have all the international coverage.
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  13. It's unbelievable how a bad situation has become a terrible situation. Human trafficking is one of the worst offences as far as I'm concerned and hadn't realized this was happening in Syria. Cheryl mentions we have that in the US & t's true, but I can only imagine it's much worse in all its aspects in Syria. Thanks -as is often the case- for opening my eyes Catarina.
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    1. Glad, and not surprised, you agree with me AK. Syria now is so bad we can not in our wildest imagination understand what it's like. Being barrel bombed is something we have never experienced. A barrel bomb is a type of improvised explosive device used by the Syrian Air Force during the Syrian civil war. They are typically made from a barrel that has been filled with High Explosives, with possibly shrapnel and/or oil, and then dropped from a helicopter. Due to the large amount of explosives that can be packed into a barrel the resulting detonation can be devastating. Imagine doing that to win a war.

  14. There's no question the Syrian people are in the most awful position. The question, though, is what can realistically be done about it. The "West" has realised, following its experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan, that sending troops in does not bring peace and the benefits to the local people are few (and transient at best) if any.

    Wagging a finger at Putin clearly doesn't help, either, Look at Ukraine and how he ignored the West saying he should not intervene in Crimea (and it now looks as if other parts of the country are at risk). He would clearly not listen to the West on Syria, either – so short of declaring war on Russia (which would be a really bad idea), it seems unlikely he will change his support.

    Although there's absolutely no question that Assad should be tried by the ICC, this is highly unlikely as the most probable outcome is a negotiated peace once he's secured his position and for this peace settlement to allow him to escape prosecution.

    Sadly, there seems little to be done but negotiate the least-bad option of a peace settlement sooner, rather than later, to at least reduce the level of killing and destruction in the country as far as possible (it clearly won't stop completely, even after a settlement as whatever new regime is in power will consolidate its position as far as possible).

    1. Yes, that's unfortunately the picture. The current world order doesn't work. Russia is no longer a super power and should not have a permanent seat on the Security Council. And now with Putin taking after his hero Stalin there is worse to come. What's really sad is that if the United States had not invaded Iraq, the Arab Spring would not have taken place and there would be no civil war in Syria.

  15. Unfortunately the US does not get involved unless the conflict hits them at home. We sit back and make idle threats, but that's the extent of it. Human trafficking? We have that here. Starving people. We have that here. You ask if we have failed Syria. Not only have we failed Syria, but we continue to fail ourselves. It's all a sad situation.
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  16. Catarina — I don't know what could be done short of military intervention. There is certainly no stomach for that in the U.S. after the futile wars in Iraq (which will probably revert to pre-war status sooner than later as the violence escalates there) and Afghanistan. Syria is a human tragedy, as are all wars. Could the U.N. step up? Probably not because Russia has veto power on the Security Council. I honestly don't know what the answer is.

    1. Glad you agree with me, Jeannette. What you point out is to the point. And the biggest problem is Russia's behaviour on the Security Council. They are unfortunately a permanent member even though they are no longer a super power.

  17. I've had an eye on Syria…my next door neighbors in Florida were from Syria and she still has family there. Unbearably sad…most of my information on Syria is either from them or The Economist Magazine. Makes all of our petty politics here seem even more petty. The UN Security Council is a joke and has been for many years. Indeed the world has failed Syria…on every single level.

    1. Yes, Jacqueline, it's horrendous what's going on in Syria isn't it. The problems we encounter in the West are all petty compared to that. The world order certainly has failed Syria.

  18. It's so sad, particularly as there seemed to be so much momentum in 2011, but instead we have seen more devastating violence. Unfortunately, we are doing in North America what we always do when atrocities continue for an extended period, we're ignoring it.

    As to Russia, it seems to me that only with the recent activities in the Ukraine is the rest of the world waking up to the reality that Russia is not play by the same rules as the rest of us. Great thought provoking piece.
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    1. Russia definitely is becoming a problem, Debra. If they feel they can invade any time a Russian speaking minority isn't happy what's happened in Crimea will happen again. Stalin moved ethnic Russians to numerous places to dis-stabilize the countries.The current problems in the former Soviet Union area may make Russia even more tolerant with Assad and worsen the situation in Syria.

  19. This is very good information and I do not have the answers to your questions though they are great questions. But I agree with you that there is something that needs to be done. Over the last 2 weeks I have not heard anything about Syria because all that is being talked about on CNN is the missing air plane. Great post and hopefully something will be done soon
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  20. I have been reading about Syria lately and I just don't know how people are even surviving there. The poor little children are the worst – wandering, hungry, scared. How they canpossibly have decent lives even if they grow up, I can't imagine. Very few will be anywhere "normal."
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    1. Many don't survive, Beth. Imagine using barrel bombs and chemical weapons against civilians. And the Syrian people really are between a rock and a hard place. Imagine the alternative to a tyrant slaughtering them is Al-Queda. People who survive such a war will never be normal again.

    1. The atrocities are not covered up, Lenie. Depends on what newspapers you read and what news you watch on television. But sure to get in-depth information you need to read publications that cover international relations.

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