RED DEER, Alta. Dec. 19, 2016/Troy Media/ – The tenuous ceasefire in Aleppo has allowed a heartbreaking, stuttering exodus of residents, fleeing whoever it is who will take over their ruined city next. And the flow of these now-refugees raises deep concerns – and plenty of blame. Just don’t blame the West.
Syria’s civil war has resulted in a nation that not even a despot would want to rule. Every media image is of ruin, death and destruction.
How has anyone survived the battle for Aleppo? How, after the residents leave, could anyone be left other than fighters trying to level the last two rocks still standing one upon another, in the hopes there may be someone behind them who they could kill?
And yet we are told by pundits and agency spokespeople that somehow the West has abandoned Aleppo in particular and Syria in general. This must be an attempt to paint us with the guilt of the butchery of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his ally Russian President Vladimir Putin – or the rebels, and the collection of violent religious fanatics and ethnic warlords who are their allies.
There is no one fighting in Syria who ordinary Canadians can support.
We can only offer support to the many thousands of victims – and they include the doctors and aid agencies who were targeted by Assad’s barrel bombs, Putin’s missiles – and, for all I know, rebel suicide bombers.
So don’t tell me I have abandoned Aleppo. I don’t see that Canada has anything or anyone to offer to save it that wouldn’t be bombed to oblivion the minute it arrived.
Instead, dear critics, tell me: Who on the ground there can save Syria? Who is not a plundering serial murderer or megalomaniacal monster with an extreme religious agenda?
The United Nations agency that monitors refugees globally puts the current registered refugee count at 4.8 million from the Syrian conflict. That’s just the ones who were counted and put into camps in the hopes of resettlement in places like Canada.
What country can survive losing 4.8 million people, including doctors, lawyers, teachers, builders, entrepreneurs and all the rest? That’s from a population estimated in 2011 at 23 million (which included more than two million refugees from places like Palestine and Iraq). By 2016, the group World Population Review estimated Syria’s population at just over 18 million.
Aleppo held about 2.1 million people in 2004. There’s no telling what the population is now, but aid agencies tell us that 5,000 people flee Syria every day. CNN tells us that about 400,000 people have died in the fighting in Syria since the civil war began – a lot of them in Aleppo, which was Syria’s largest city.
What’s left there to fight over? And what fault is it of mine, or of western democracies, that al-Assad and Putin are butchers, or that anyone connected with rebel or IS groups should even be considered an improvement over them?
So forgive me for not wanting Canada to get involved in this game, other than to take in and support as many refugees as we can.
And forgive me for not feeling guilty about having “abandoned” Syria.
Assad and all the rest have caused many graves to be dug and they will eventually dig graves for themselves.
We can’t stop them or hinder them. And we won’t assume blame for them.
Greg Neiman is a freelance editor, columnist and blogger living in Red Deer, Alta. Greg is included in Troy Media’s Unlimited Access subscription plan.
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