There are no conflicts in the Middle East that date back millennia

Muhammad Idrees Ahmad writes: In February 1994, during the Siege of Sarajevo, a Bosnian Serb mortar landed in a market, killing 68 and wounding 144. US President Bill Clinton, who had made his “never again” campaign promise to prevent genocide, was up in arms.

“Until those folks get tired of killing each other over there, bad things will continue to happen,” he said.

Two decades later, confronted with indiscriminate bombings in Aleppo and a starvation siege in Madaya, Barack Obama waxed similarly fatalistic. “The Middle East is going through a transformation that will play out for a generation,” he said, because it was “rooted in conflicts that date back millennia”.

There are no conflicts in the Middle East that date back millennia. The conflict in Syria is just over five years old. Nothing about it is fixed. In its scope and its intensity, in its balance of forces and its cast of characters, the conflict has been constantly evolving. The only element that has remained static, however, is the international response.

In speaking of the horrors unfolding in Syria, it is hard to avoid a certain sense of déjà vu. Everything that can be said about Aleppo has already been said about Homs, Houla, Daraya and Douma. But with each new horror comes a growing sense that, for all the obtrusive violence, for all our pleas, we are plunging into the deep, smothered by apathy, abandoned by hope. [Continue reading…]

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