Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Thursday, August 17th, 2017

A Silver Lining in Syria

The Syria’s war is a great tragedy of modern world and a highly negative milestone in the history of human society. The humanitarian law was widely violated by militant fighters, mainly with the firm foothold of the self-proclaimed Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). Syrian nation suffered severely and sustained large casualties, which fill one with a strong sense of fear and disgust. Once a developed country, Syria has been changed into debris and constitutes one of the largest numbers of refugees in the world.

The major Syrian opposition groups, including the largest one, the High Negotiations Committee (HNC), are likely to attend the upcoming talks on the Syrian settlement in Astana, Kazakhstan, which will be held with Assad’s regime. A Syrian opposition delegation is said to arrive in Moscow on Tuesday to discuss the Russia-Turkey brokered talks between warring sides in the Middle East country.

Achieving a general ceasefire in Syria has been central to every diplomatic initiative to end the conflict since the United Nations Security Council issued a presidential statement endorsing what was known as the “Kofi Annan plan” on March 2012. But getting the combatants to comply was never going to be easy, not least because their external backers were not prepared to go far enough to make them do so.

The ceasefire brokered by Russia and Turkey on December 29, 2016, is no different. But this time the stakes may be high enough to force Russia’s hand, opening an avenue towards more effective diplomacy, albeit geared to more modest objectives than reaching a full peace deal.

The horrible consequence of Syria’s deadly war is indescribable and if it does not come to an end the casualties will be terrible. A great deal of Syria’s men, women and children lost their lives or amputated by warring sides as bombings and attacks targeted people indiscriminately, some of whom are turned blind eye. A number of Syrian citizens, who lost their sights in the war, are paid less attention. As a result, World Braille Day was observed last week, but little public attention has been paid to the plight of Syrians suffering from visual impairments, either caused by or worsened by the country’s five-year-old civil war. Since Jordan shut its border with Syria last summer after a car bomb, only a handful of refugees have been allowed out for medical treatment, according to Doctors Without Borders.

In refugee-hosting countries, including Lebanon, Turkey and Jordan, more often than not it falls to NGOs and charities to provide urgent medical treatment, and for those with visual impairments, long-term supports such as Braille machines and adapted computers. But because they are not considered life-threatening, eye injuries may not be a priority for such organizations, which face large funding shortfalls.

There are no overall statistics on how many Syrians have lost their sight because of conflict-related wounds. But indiscriminate bombing of civilian areas, attacks on healthcare facilities and a lack of access for medical workers have led to deteriorating conditions. When Assad regime forces retook Aleppo city in December and civilians were displaced to the surrounding areas, doctors reported multiple cases of untreated shrapnel wounds causing loss of vision.

By and large, neither of the sides is believed to have observed humanitarian law. Civilians suffered in the worst possible way. For instance, women, belonging to minority groups, were forced to Jihad-e-Nikah and raped constantly by the ISIL fighters. Streams of blood were shed and many were dishonored before the eyes of international community, which suggested no effective panacea for the problem.

On the one hand, the public believe that “disregard and contempt for human rights have resulted in barbarous acts which have outraged the conscience of mankind” and on the other hand, it is stated that “recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world”.

Terrorist networks such as ISIL, Boko Haram and like minded groups are likely to humiliate human rights more than any other parties and seek to impose their warped minds on individuals at gunpoint at the cost of their lives and honor.

Needless to say, neither ideologues nor mercenary fighters have something to lose and will show no inclination to peace talks. They intend to muddy the water and take advantages of political turbulence – this fact has been proved in Afghanistan. As a result, Afghan government sought peace more than a decade without any breakthrough as the Taliban showed no tendency in this regard. It is because a peaceful country will narrow the realm of their political interests. For instance, they would not be able to smuggle drug, extract resources or force people to pay taxes, etc.

Hence, since the ISIL fighters aim to satiate their carnal desires through announcing Jihad-e-Nikah, it will never be acceptable in a country based on law.

It is important that both the negotiating sides will have to make peace and join forces against the ISIL group or else the situation will deteriorate with each passing day. The international community, along with countries involved in Syria’s issue, will have to support peace so as to protect the rights of the public and put an end to violence and bloodshed.