A Genocide Hidden In Plain Sight

By reporting on a civil war, a sectarian war, and a proxy war, by focusing on the extremist groups taking advantage of the breakdown of the state and international indifference while ignoring the links between the Assad regime and these groups, by focusing on the concerns of minority communities in the country and the removal of chemical weapons, and by providing continuous coverage of a political process in Geneva that is unlikely to produce serious results, the reality of what is taking place in Syria, namely the genocide that is being perpetrated against the majority Sunni Arab population is being hidden in plain sight: the war is visible, the genocide is not. The very word is seldom used even as stories of concentration camps and starvation campaigns break out.

Everyone is a culprit in this, from the way President Obama and his administration has handled the situation from the beginning in March 2011, down to the way so many reporters are letting the official lines of governments involved in the conflict dictate the nature of their reporting, making them forget that when genocide is involved there are no two sides to the story.

This is indeed a genocide that the great powers have deemed inevitable, if not even necessary, from the start, so that certain priorities of theirs, no matter how mistaken and foolish, are served. For the Obama Administration, it was all about reaching a deal with Iran over its nuclear program. To Putin’s clique, it’s all about prestige and a potential stake in the Mediterranean gas fields. Prejudice is involved here as well, after all, the overwhelming majority of Muslim populations in the Russian Federation, whom Russian nationals will always mistrust and fear, are Sunnis.

As I watch all this, I cannot help but wonder: Where are the “Monuments Men” rushing to save our cultural heritage, and the brave soldiers rushing to liberate our concentration camps? The world seems blind and indifferent to everything and everyone except those among us who, in the face of mass murder, became radicalized, and those leeches who came from abroad to take advantage of our misery. No one can see, it seems, the murdering bastards who unleashed the forces of mayhem against us and who are methodically implementing a genocide meant to change the demographic nature of the country.

What’s the point in believing in anything anymore when evil can happen in full light of day and the evildoers can go about their business with impunity and without fearing any consequence. Meanwhile, the accusing finger of so many in the world is more often raised against the activists who are documenting these crimes, often risking their lives in the process, for inconveniencing the world with their truth. But, at occasions, the activists are given awards that seem meant more to alleviate the givers guilty consciences than to support the actions of these heroes.

But the burden is too great to be alleviated by such empty gestures. The best gift the world can make to pro-democracy and human rights activists in Syria and across the world, is to put an end to this genocide and hold its perpetrators accountable. A world where genocide can still take place and its perpetrators can still be shielded from accountability, and where world leaders seem willing to live with it as a necessary part of doing business is not a world that deserves to be at peace, nor is it capable of delivering it. The ongoing genocide in Syria is a testament to how far we have yet to go before we can bridge the gap separating our avowed ideals and our actions (and inactions).