Wednesday, February 10, 2016

A Wedding in Syria Provides a Rare Glimpse of Hope

If like me you recall wedding days with a mixture of disbelief and affirmation that this was indeed the first step on a very slippery slope filled with arguments about unwashed dishes, you might not want to look too closely at the following picture.


The year is 2016 and the wedding took place in the Syrian city of Homs. Four long years ago in February 2012, the Syrian army surrounded and laid siege to Homs. trapping 3,000 civilians and 4,000 rebels inside. Homs has been an urban wasteland for four years. This is an image of Homs before the civil war set against a contemporary one.


It's hard to comprehend the scale of horror that is modern-day Syria. Suffice to say what appeared to be a popular uprising against the dictator Assad, quickly became the most terrible war of the millennium.

The most troubling aspect of this war is there is no silver lining. Back in 1939 at least it was easy to separate the good guys from the bad guys. Although war brutalizes all round, you don't need to be a history buff to realize the regime that tried to wipe a race off the face of the earth was clearly on the dark side.

In Syria, it's hard to draw any lines. The West initially supported a rag tag of rebels, some of them too closely affiliated to Al Quaeda for comfort. Then part of the rebellion morphed into the evil that is ISIS. Meanwhile, the Assad regime has continued to kill and torture and drop chemical weapons on its own people. Today with the support of the Russians, there's some kind of bloody endgame in sight, as the Assad regime looks poised to capture what's left of Aleppo. Our Western ideals seem terribly inadequate as the dictator reasserts his power. And the scary thing is it's not the worst possible outcome. The Syrian conflict has again highlighted the deadly schism between Sunni and Shia Muslims - represented collectively by America's favorite Middle Eastern country Saudi Arabia and Iran, two regimes that arbitrarily execute their citizens and impose a wide range of Medieval punishments. In many ways little has changed since the brutal Iran-Iraq War of the 1980s that left about 1.5 million people dead in a World War One style stalemate.


The brutality of the war in Syria has reminded us that we need every 'feelgood' Kodak moment we can find. The 21st Century doesn't feel like a place for diplomacy. Right now Vladimir Putin is 3-0 up against Obama and intolerance is on the march. We need all the love we can find; even in the most inhospitable of places.

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