• Omar Imady

This is for Syria!

Twenty-two people were killed in the attack on 22 May 2017

Yesterday, a man armed with a hammer was arrested after attacking a police officer in Paris. As he carried out his attack, he shouted, “This is for Syria!” This scene, along with other similar scenes from London Bridge to Saint Petersburg, converge in my head like a surreal mosaic no scholar can succeed in interpreting.

How does killing an eight-year-old girl at a concert in Manchester help my wounded country heal? How does it help the young women and men of Syria who marched for freedom and dignity attain these objectives? How does it help the displaced, the refugees, those dying in the basements of security offices, or those living in fear of being stoned or amputated? I visualize myself interviewing some of these men and women. Perhaps the three women who attacked the nursery school worker in Hermon Hill have the answers. Perhaps they can help me understand how stabbing an innocent woman who works for Little Diamonds nursery will help the families of the hundreds of thousands who were killed in Syria; or how will it stop the regime’s barrel bombs or the indiscriminate shelling of those fighting the regime?

But of course, those carrying out these terror attacks in my country’s name are not alone. The list of those convinced they are somehow contributing to my country’s future is long and varied. One would have to start with all the well-intentioned neighbors in the region who have decided that the best thing they can do for Syria is to transform it into the primary field of their regional sectarian war. Zoom out a bit, and you would have to include those who believe Syria is best served by organically linking it to the attempt to end NATO’s eastward expansion, missile systems, and last, but not least, Western sanctions against Russia over its annexation of the Crimea. Across the Atlantic, Syria has special friends too, who are adamant that nothing can serve Syria more than carrying out thousands of airstrikes. After all, we all know by now, as Afghanistan makes crystal clear, that airstrikes promise a quick end to terror bases and networks. With each smart bomb that falls, the chances are enhanced for Syria’s infrastructure to be rebuilt, for its hospitals to become operational again, and for its roads to be safe again. Even collective international efforts are carried out in Syria’s name. The UNSC resolutions are all for Syria. The votes in favor are for Syria, and the vetoes are equally for Syria. The reports documenting war crimes are for Syria, and the countries protesting the lack of adequate evidence do so for Syria. How popular has my country become!

Not since its independence in 1946 has Syria had more countries, organisations and individuals carrying out acts in its name. And yet, in over seventy years, never has a moment arrived when Syria, when its people, have been this alone.

*/Dr. Omar Imady was born in Damascus. He is presently a Senior Fellow at the Centre for Syrian Studies at the University of St Andrews.


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