A massacre that is becoming ordinary in the insensitive eyes of the world
Syria has been suffering a massacre under the gaze of the whole world for the past 19 months. Not since the genocides in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Rwanda has the world been so insensitive and impotent. The responsibility for the brutal massacre of hundreds of people every day in Syria belongs not only to the cruel Bashar al-Assad regime but to all of humanity, which remains insensitive to this massacre.
The world may choose to turn a blind eye to these massacres or remain indifferent to them; countries around the world may be too weak or disorganized to respond to them; but they have recently come to the very edge of Syria's common border with Turkey. Even the new rules of engagement declared by Turkey in the wake of the downing of its jet by Assad's forces -- according to which Turkey would regard Syrian warplanes and helicopters within five kilometers of the common border as violating its airspace -- have been violated. Indeed, for the past few days, the warplanes and helicopters of Assad's forces have been shelling targets as close as 300 meters from the Turkish border. It is claimed these warplanes have approached the zero point of the border, and some eyewitnesses even argue that they have violated Turkish airspace.

It is deplorable to see women, children and the elderly fleeing air strikes in the Rasulayn region of Syria's al-Hasakah province, near the Turkish border, to Turkey's border city of Ceylanpınar to save their lives. I am talking about innocent civilians desperately attempting to cross the border without even finding the time to put on shoes. The sheer number of children among the wounded is sufficient to communicate the horror of the ongoing civilian massacre. Those fleeing are not armed dissidents fighting Assad's forces; they are just civilians living in the region. The number killed in homes that have collapsed under heavy bombardment is not known. What is known is that out of 68 severely wounded people brought to Turkey in the past few days, 10 have died in Turkish hospitals.

Shrapnel that has strayed into Turkey from shells dropped by the warplanes and helicopters of the bloodthirsty Assad regime at the zero point of the border has damaged some houses and shops and wounded two people in Ceylanpınar. For this reason, questions as to why the rules of engagement justly declared by Turkey are not being complied with abound in the minds of the public. Despite the fact that security measures have been increased along the border and Turkish warplanes are now patrolling the area, Turkey has once again been content to issue a note to the Assad regime. And this confuses the public as to Turkey's deterrent capacity.

Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu said: "We have reported the issue to the United Nations Security Council [UNSC] and NATO. The international community's silence on the matter hurts the human conscience. The Assad regime is primarily responsible for these incidents. The UNSC's inaction is responsible for it in the second place. As long as this inaction continues, the Syrian regime will continue to find pretexts for its provocations." I could not agree more with these words. However, Davutoğlu went on to note that Assad's warplanes did not violate Turkish airspace, adding, "If our airspace had been violated, we would certainly respond." These words give the impression that Turkey did not have recently announced rules of engagement in place.

Of course there is nothing wrong with Turkey adopting an extremely cautious and self-possessed attitude as regards this "clear and present danger." Yet it is impossible to make sense of the continued silence of the Western powers, including the US, which hide behind the pretext that the Syrian opposition does not inspire confidence and does not fully represent the groups in the field. Indeed, under the direct influence of the US, the Syrian opposition has been reorganized as the "Syrian National Coalition" to be more representative and legitimate in nature. Isn't it high time that the international community kept its promises of solidarity, support and help for the Syrian opposition, now that it has been reshaped as the legitimate representative of the Syrian people in resisting the massacring, illegitimate Assad regime?

With their sophisticated defense technology capable of disabling the radar and communication devices of any armed unit at any place or time, how many civilians are the US and NATO waiting to see die before they take action to protect them from Assad's air attacks? No one expects NATO, the US or any other nation to directly send troops to Syria. But why don't they employ their technological defense capabilities and indirect methods to paralyze Assad's striking power?

As Davutoğlu said, the whole world is going through a tough test of humanity over Syria. So far they have performed very poorly. The developments have already indicated that this problem cannot be settled through the self-sacrificial work of Turkey and some regional countries. In addition to the humanitarian aspect of the crisis, Turkey has spent $400 million on the care of the refugees, and the problem is growing to dimensions Turkey cannot support. Currently, Turkey is hosting about 170,000 Syrian refugees -- 120,000 in camps and 40,000 to 50,000 in cities -- and is being exposed to the sociopolitical and psychological effects of this crisis, in addition to security concerns created by the fact that in a country with which Turkey has a 910-kilometer-long common border, 30,000 to 40,000 people have been massacred, 1 million people have fled and 2 million people have been internally displaced.

In short, hundreds of innocent people are being killed each day, under the insensitive and indifferent gaze of the whole planet. Every day, the cruel Assad regime commits new crimes against humanity by shelling settlements. Still deeply wounded by the disgraceful memories of the massacres in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Rwanda, the world is facing the risk of shouldering another disgrace by turning a blind eye to the ongoing massacres in Syria.

This risk threatens the image of the US administration most. US President Barack Hussein Obama, in whom people have invested great hopes, has the chance to be remembered with honor, like Bill Clinton, who put an end to the tragedies in Bosnia and Kosovo. If, during this second presidential term, he fails to take action to deal with the Syrian tragedy that started in his first presidential term, Obama will be etched in the collective memory of humankind with the burden of this terrific tragedy.

BÜLENT KENEŞ (Cihan/Today's Zaman) CİHAN
Last Modified: 2012-11-14 10:00:03
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