Four years ago this week, the events of the Arab Spring plunged Syria into a brutal civil war that, to this day, is tearing the country and its people apart. To date, the conflict has killed more than 220,000, displaced some 4.3 million, and dropped the country’s GDP by almost $120 billion. Furthermore, over 80% of the lights in Syria, as seen from satellite images, have gone out, life expectancy has dropped by 22 years, and the number of doctors in the country’s second largest city, Aleppo, has gone from 2,500 to less than 100. This is a far cry from not many years ago, when police in Damascus fought to maintain an image that crime didn’t even exist in the country; “Syria, in any sense as to the country it was, is dead.” As the Middle East’s bloodiest conflict enters its fifth year, it is time to begin a new approach. We must shift the focus away from both Assad and the relatively minor role of the ISIL, to the victims of this crisis, so that the country and its people may have a future.
The rest of the world needs to offer some real attention to the implications of over half of all Syrian children not having attended school for the last few years- the beginning of a lost generation. What will it look like when the children that were forced to bear witness to such brutality become politicized? Nevertheless, empowering these moderates may be the only option to give some dignity to people who are increasingly seen just as passive recipients of aid, as opposed to having some choice in their future. If the international community gave even half of the political energy and attention that they devote to ISIL, to finding a solution to the suffering of the Syrian people, than a more effective global Syria policy would have a chance. More than 1,460 days of bloodshed have passed since the start of this horrendous conflict and so far our current approach has failed and a new one must take its place, lest we suffer the dire humanitarian fallout of the death of Syria.