Light the Dark and the Syrian Crisis

On Monday, thousands of people participated in Light The Dark (#lightthedark) rallies across Australia. The aim of these rallies was to show sympathy for the Syrian refugees, demonstrate solidarity and to pressure politicians to increase the quota of asylum seekers coming from Syria to Australia. This action started after pictures of dead bodies of young kids went viral who were found on the Mediterranean shores while they were trying to flee to Europe.

These pictures have arouse deep emotional response all over the world and has led to strong campaigns and huge debates during past weeks. This was also translated into a strong pressure on policy makers and led to an increase in the refugee intake of several countries, including Australia, Germany, France, the UK, etc.

This is good news for people who are fleeing the disastrous situations in Syria. However, these measures are not enough and are incapable of eradicating the underlying problems.

There are about four million Syrians seeking refuge outside their country. This number is so huge that cannot be easily distributed among well-off countries. In fact, no country does voluntarily accept this number of asylum seekers in because it arises a wide range of economical and welfare issues.

This is especially the case with the countries that share borders with Syria. As an example, there are, now, about one million Syrian refugees in Lebanon whose original population is only four millions. This in a couple of years can easily destroy the country’s economical and financial condition.

So, to solve the problem we should look at the reason why so many people have become homeless. That reason is the ugly civil war that has been going on for the past four years in the region. At first sight, especially from a westerner point of view, it is just a domestic or regional conflict with Islamic roots. But it is more than this.

It is a proxy war between the West and the East, between the US. and Russia at one level and Saudi Arabia and Iran at another. These players made the situation in Syria a humanitarian crisis. The US. wanted Bashar al Assad out to increase its influence in the region but Russia didn’t and so vetoed the UN security council resolutions.

On the other level, Saudi Arabia wanted to limit Iran’s influence in the region and thus wanted to oust Assad. For that, it began funding terrorist groups like Isis. Iran, on the other hand, didn’t want to lose Syria because it facilitated its root to Lebanon and Palestine. So it backed up president Assad with funds and military advisers, while it was itself under a severe regime of economical and financial sanctions.

Meanwhile, none of these regional and global players actually cared for the regular Syrian people who were caught in this power game. By refusing to compromise, they turned a simple uprising as a demand for democracy (the last episode of Arab Spring) into a full-fledged war which led to extreme atrocities and created one of the most blood-thirsty terrorist groups in the recent history: ISIS.

The solution to this crisis is not easy but can be done. It needs serious commitment from various sides of the conflict. The first step is a political one. The two sides of the war – the US. and Saudi Arabia (as the most eminent Arab state) on the one side and Russia and Iran on the other – should negotiate, compromise and come up with a solution that would serve them all. (In a perfect world, they shouldn’t even be thinking about their benefits in another country. But let’s be real for now).

When it’s done, then it won’t be so difficult to get rid of the region’s nasty disease which is ISIS. The group is young and is not yet deeply-rooted in the region. So it can be eradicated if the bigger powers decide on removing it. If decided on, it will be done by winning the support of regional, influential figures such as tribal and religious leaders.

So while we are rallying around the world, pressuring politicians to let more Syrian asylum seekers in, let’s use the platform and convince them to sit and negotiate the political future of Syria before more lives are lost.

4 thoughts on “Light the Dark and the Syrian Crisis

  1. I think I understand the proxy war, but how do we actually get USA-Saudi and Russia-Iran to negotiate? What can we do here- Is it ok to ‘share’ this article, because if we do a public meeting then this is a good analysis to use

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I can make an example of a similar case: the negotiations on Iran’s nuclear program and the recent agreement. In that case the alternative for the negotiations was war. So, some steps was taken to force politicians to sit down and reach a solution by negotiation. First, there was a pressure from inside Iran which led to election of Rouhani and the low votes to Jalili (the previous Iran’s negotiator in the nuke talks).
      There were also a wide campaign against war with Iran around the world. This campaign changed its form and became “support the deal”. As part of this recent one, many key figures, from around the world, talked publicly in support of the nuke deal. As a result, now Obama has the number of votes in the Senate to veto Republicans’ opposition to Iran’s deal.
      There were many other factors involved in that case (like the interest of businesses for the Iran’s market, Obama’s foreign policy and the shift of America’s interest from the Middle East to East Asia). But I think, for Syria’s case, a similar campaign can be used. The campaign can show the politicians what the people want: end the war in Syria.
      I agree that it is more effective if the campaign is carried out in the US, Russia, Iran and Saudi Arabia. But protesting in other parts of the world is not futile.
      For example, Australians can show the government that they prefer Syria’s war be ended by negotiation. Then, Abbott or Bishop announce this publicly (I’m not very optimistic about this, though!!). When there is sufficient pressure from all the world leaders, then those key players will sit down and talk.
      This may seem very simplistic and optimistic but I guess it is a practical thing that regular people can do.


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