Sunday, 21 August 2016

Europe turns its back on Syria and Yemen at its own peril

The images of the Syrian boy, Omran Daqneesh, being pulled from the rubble in Aleppo may have shocked the world over - but his wasn't a unique case.
Shedding tears for one injured child is simply not enough; the war in Syria has been raging on for 5 and a half years now and has decimated hundreds of thousands of men, women and children - many just like the bloody and dazed Omran. Dr Zaher Sahloul, who works in Aleppo, knows all about that. He has treated a toddler who had been shot in the head by a government sniper, children who had been mutilated by the shrapnel from barrel bombs and two young sisters who were brought into the emergency room hugging each other, but were already dead. And yet the airstrikes keep coming.
Somehow, Yemen is enduring a humanitarian catastrophe that is even larger than in Syria. For over a year now, two thirds of the population have had no access to clean water, 80% are in desperate need of humanitarian aid and thousands of civilians have died. The worst part about all of this? If the US and UK governments stopped flooding the Saudis with billions worth of weaponry, their bombing campaign - though let's call it for what it is: a war crime - would swiftly grind to a halt.
You may not believe it now, but Europe's destiny is entwined with events in its Arab neighbourhood in a way that the US's is not. For each Syrian refugee who made it to Europe and was treated decently, how many were left to rot in a war zone of the West's creation and will nurture resentment towards Europe? Similarly, reports are filtering out of Yemen that Yemenis perceive it not to be a Saudi bombing campaign but a US/UK bombing campaign, and many civilians blame the carnage on the West just as much as the Saudis.
You might not think that, you, a solitary individual, can do anything to change the US and UK's grotesque foreign policies. But if large swathes of the population became aware of the possibly irreversible damage the government is inflicting on the Middle east, I believe insurmountable pressure could be unleashed on those in power.
In a strange parallel to the events of last summer, the body of the little Syrian boy Aylan Kurdi washed upon the shores of Greece and just like now with Omran, there was an outpouring of sympathy on a global scale for refugees. However, just a few months later, Isis claimed responsibility for the deadly Paris attacks, the world relapsed and the migrant-bashing fanfare became rambunctious all over again.
For the reasons stated above, another terror attack in Europe is probably quite likely. Last time, a bunch of Belgian people killed a bunch of people in France so the British government voted to bomb more innocent people in Syria. There's no logic. We need to respond only with humanistic values, kids like Omran are dying every day. Think about it.

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