Eli, Eli, Sabachthani!
الأب، والأب، لماذا تركتني؟
Father, Father, Why hast thou forsaken me?
The ancient nation of Syria is made up of people who can derive their origins from myriad cultures and religious calling. Coptic Christians, Baha`i, Jews and Muslims together with derivations thereof, have lived together perfectly harmoniously for centuries; some families actually contain members whose faith differs slightly from another relative but this has made no significant difference previously. For a great many, Christmas is a most holy time but all are united in the expectation of what the New Year ahead might bring them. For many, this could be death or at best, continued homelessness and starvation. All could be forgiven for believing that the God of their fathers has forsaken them.
On or around Boxing Day, violent clashes once again broke out between fighters of the Phalange resistance group and regular government troops, in the area of Moadamyeh to the north-east of Damascus, thus ending an already fragile truce. At the same time, warplanes and helicopter gun ships bombed the already shattered city of Aleppo for the second day in succession. An agreement had been struck on Christmas day whereby in exchange for halting the fighting, food, water and medical supplies could be allowed through to relieve the terrified and starving local inhabitants. From information supplied in Arabic to this columnist, government forces would raise their flag above the area of the city where the water tanks are situated and would hold at that location for at least 72 hours but the truce did not last 24 hours.
The agreement had provided for the cease-fire to be extended beyond 72 hours and during that time, the army would not attempt to enter the city, according to local officials, however the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights have said that "a woman and four children from one family were killed as a result of aerial bombardments in the areas of Khan el-Sheikh." No aid had been forthcoming, according to these sources who also had observed the movement of heavy weaponry in the location of the city. The National Coalition of Syrian Opposition has stated that the regime have adopted the policy of starvation for the purpose of systematically waging warfare against the Syrian people especially, it seems in Moadamyeh. Water, food and medical supplies are being deliberately withheld by forces loyal to the Assad regime which in turn, is clearly supported primarily by Moscow. It might well be argued by some and with justification too, that the civilian casualties are as much the responsibility of Russian policy as that of Assad.
The aerial bombardment on Aleppo and the surrounding area on Christmas Day killed at least twelve people and during the previous ten days, over 400 had lost their lives. The town of Dara Aza, near Damascus was hit by warplanes on Boxing Day and numerous women and children were apparently killed. One member of the Syrian Human Rights Observatory on the scene near Aleppo, that when the bombing begins, ‘you feel as though you might die at any moment. The regime treats us as if we were terrorists, irrespective of whether we are a woman or a child or elderly person. No one is safe from the regime in Syria.’ But in a conversation between a private source in Damascus and the writer a few nights ago, he confirmed that the feeling there was that although things may ‘settle down’ by the spring, the likelihood of a change of regime is virtually nil and furthermore, that Assad was likely to be around for at least two more years. Additionally, the leader of the official Syrian opposition, Ahmed al Jarba, who has based himself and his party in Istanbul, is not at all well known in Syria; he certainly is not regarded as soon sort of messiah and those who do know of him, regard him as essentially a ‘weak’ man.
One protracted line of questioning arising from the recent conversations via the internet with this columns long-held source, a former colleague of the writer in Syria, was in connection with Britain’s avowed support of the Syrian people. “Why does Cameron say he supports us and then will not allow any of our people to come to Great Britain?” It was not an easy position to defend and now we are hearing, that led by the perhaps unlikely voice of Nigel Farage (UKIP) there is growing cross-party support in England for the UK to take in a number of Syrian refugees. But how many, where located and for how long is all detail to be worked out presumably. Too few would be tokenism whilst there is obviously a limit as to how many we can absorb here.
One indisputable truth is that the Syrian people have been subjected to the cruellest treatment imaginable for three long years during this interminable war and there seems no early end to it in near sight. When will we see relief for these God forsaken souls?
يا أبتاه اغفر لهم لأنهم لا يعلمون ماذا يفعلون
“Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.”
Chris Green for Avrupa Times