“The Ummah… you dropped the ball on this one.”*
The fall of Aleppo is a turning point in the struggle of Syrian people against a tyrannical rule in Damascus. It is a setback of the forces of liberation, another episode in the unravelling of what was the Arab Spring turned long, bloody and bitter winter.
It is important to mention the Arab Spring because there seems to be a deliberate attempt to rewrite the context of the conflict, taking away the legitimate cause the rebels have been fighting for, initially using nonviolent protests.
Assad’s regime’s response to nonviolent calls for his removal was viciousness and a total refusal to negotiate with the rebels, conveniently calling them ‘terrorists.’
From the early days of the struggle, in March of 2011, in the city of Deraa, to present day’s Aleppo, Syria has lost close to 300,000 lives with 11 million others forced from their homes.
Six years running, the Syrian conflict is fully multilateral, with shifting alliances of state and non-state entities, deepening sectarianism and total destruction of livelihoods and towns.
The emptying of the residents of Syrian towns points to an intended stratagem for the remake of this historic country. With its architecture pulverized and ruined, the heritage of Aleppo, believed to be the oldest continuously inhabited city in the world, is gone forever.
The template of chilling murders, defilement of women, dismemberment of humans and the sadistic square-after-square grinding of homes has evoked memories Chechnya where in Grozny, Russian forces annihilated inhabitants of that city with callous and barbarous monstrosity.
Less debatably, the tipping point in the Syrian conflict was the entry of Russia into the war. In a decisive manner, as the Western powers wavered in their support for the rebels, Vladmir Putin ensured that Assad remained entrenched… Assad has grown bolder since, tightening his grip on power.
However, helping Assad’s regime has not been only by fighting on his side. A total failure to reach an international consensus, has meant that Syria continues to be a theatre of war. In a sadistic fashion, powers have experimented with respective strategies seemingly conceived only to sustain the war.
The complicit nature of the rest of the world continues to play out at the UN Security Council Council, in the failure of the disparate rebels groups to find each other, and, in the helpless condemnations of the conflict within the Muslim world.
It is a moment when we are reminded that the idea of solidarity from a ‘world community’ is fickle. Aleppo, just as the rest of Syria cries out, represents a newest episode in the history of humanity’s failure to stop deliberate atrocities and genocidal warfare.
Since the onslaught on Aleppo, we have not been short of dispatches from the frontier of the struggle and from inside the besieged city. We have, in real time, helplessly and with an unsettling numbness, heard desperate cries of humanity: girls, elderly men and women, appealing to ‘the world’ to come to the rescue…
Aleppo represents a major chip coming off the block that is the Muslim world. Our helplessness has deepened as our historical roots are being extirpated, from East to West.
It is about time that we see through the forces that are at work and will never leave us alone. These are forces that will continue to meddle in ways that keep the Ummah ever diminished in strength, never to realise its true potential.
It is chronicled that the Crusades succeeded because of the internecine fights of the fragmented caliphate, with the Fatimids rivalling the Abbasids. The Grozny template is not only for Aleppo but all the Muslims lands. We have a choice to make or else, we are set for a déjà vu.
The Promise of the Almighty is that lives of the fallen martyrs cannot be in vain… We pray to Almighty to instil in us a resolve to resist tyranny, just as the martyrs of Aleppo have demonstrated to us.
In these trying times, the Jamiatul Ulama South Africa:
- appeals to congregations to observe the Qunut-e-Naazila in prayer, and specially supplicate to the Almighty to facilitate ease for the people of Syria and all other lands under oppression.
- appeals for generous contributions towards the humanitarian interventions in order to alleviate the long-suffering of the people of Syria.
- reiterates its call for a political solution in Syria and an investigation into the reports of war crimes and crimes against humanity in Aleppo and elsewhere.
- supports appropriate public initiatives such as petitioning and protests, calling for an immediate end to the war in Syria.
May the Almighty grant unity, sincerity and resolve in the ranks of those standing firm, against all odds, in face of brutal and aggressive oppression.
*On the Ground News’s Bilaal Abdul Kareem, quoted via Al Jazeera, giving what he supposed to be his farewell message to the world as Syrian government forces closed in on his hideout in Aleppo on Tuesday.