When the bombs stop, what will be left of Syria? Will there be any salvageable homes, businesses, roads, farms and trees?
It’s been more than three years since the Syrian Civil War took shape, yet nothing has been gained by either side. In fact, the longer they fight, the more everyone stands to lose, whether they come out winners or losers in the end. If Bashar al-Assad and the Syrian government do beat the rebels, they will likely face a strong international cold shoulder (not that that has stopped them from before). If the rebels win, they will have to decide what to do with their brothers on the government’s side, and set up a new government (we all know how easy that is to accomplish–just look at Egypt).
Either way, who ever wins will face severe political and social difficulties. Furthermore, they will be the kings of an abandoned castle, for what is left of Syria? Who is left from Syria? What economy can be salvaged out of Syria? Every day the news shows photos of the straight-up carnage that would do Carthage proud: city streets turned into towering, tumbling masses of rubble. Businesses and houses are destroyed, public infrastructure is destroyed. Syria is not an oil country. Who is going to bail the country out? Who’s going to pay the millions-billions?-of dollars needed to physically fix the country, post-war?
Other nations have had the sh*t bombed out of them and have been able to rebuild. Look at Britain and Germany after World War II. Then again, they had the Marshall Plan and America. What nations nowadays would step in to help rebuild Syria? It would make sense if the Gulf countries with all their oil wealth offered up aid, but there is little incentive: unlike Britain and Germany before WWII, pre-war Syria did not have an outstanding economy.
What has been most upsetting in this war is the destruction of ancient heritage sites. Is it wrong to bemoan about old buildings or dusty relics? These things belong to an intangible world history. They can never be replaced. What disturbs me is that these things make up Syria; can you imagine what Paris would be without the Eiffel Tower, or London without Big Ben? Religious sites and monuments give Syria its history and pride and now they are being erased. Don’t those fighting realize what they are ruining? Even Hitler tried to avoid bombing places of interest in England.
Many of the sites and monuments being destroyed are related to Christian history. My heart dropped when I read one day that the oldest church in the world had been destroyed. Or that predominantly Christian towns like Maaloula are being completely ransacked of their heritage. According to Al-Monitor, rebel forces–NOT Bashir Al-Assad’s army–“destroyed sites and altars, painted over traditional icons and paintings, removed and burned crosses, searched for treasures under altars and in tombs, and searched among the remains of monks and nuns.” This is atrocious on so many levels. As much as I detest Assad, are these the people we want to win? Extremist, Al-Qaeda-affiliated men with no regard for others, modern-day Crusading pillagers? Absolutely not.
We’ve seen this story before in Iraq and Iran, where ancient sites were destroyed and, more importantly, the non-Muslim populations were driven out. The Christian Iraqi population made its exodus as did the Iranian Christians and Jews in the wake of the 1979 Revolution. These people had a long history in the Middle East. It is sad that Islam has pushed out the other two peoples of the Book, with the exceptions obviously being Israel and Lebanon. What’s more sad is that there seems to be little worldwide condemnation of the attacks on Syria’s Christians from international Christian communities. Couldn’t the targeting of Christian sites be considered genocide, the “cleansing” of a type of people based on their religion? Again, it’s not the Syrian Army that is doing this, but the extremist rebel factions.
Who will be left in Syria? When the war stops, will there be any Christians left? Or will it be a totally Islamic country, with perhaps a tiny marginal fringe of Christians who clung on? This seems to be what the rebels want, anyway. Will the people of Syria, the thousands of refugees, ever return? Who would want to return to a country with no jobs, no infrastructure, and a [likely, based on what is happening in Egypt and Libya] polarized and fragmented society?
This post marks my 100th on this blog. The Syrian Civil War was already under way when I started blogging, and it soldiers on, unfatigued. I think the time now to stop asking “who’s going to rule?” or “who’s going to win?” but how they will rule, who they will rule. It’s time to ask hard questions. Both sides need to consider what they are fighting for, besides power. Military power and ruthlessness will not automatically build a nation, not in today’s world.
No one has the answers to these hard questions that I’m asking, but one thing seems certain: it will take a very long time to rebuild Syria, but the process could be hastened if there is unity among Syrians after the war.