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Saturday, March 2, 2024

Press | Earthquake in Syria: One man’s crimes are worse

In the Opinion Section of Asharq Al-Awsat, a daily Arabic newspaper, Saudi journalist Tariq Al-Homayed comments on the earthquake that struck Turkey and Syria last week saying that its tragic effects “will remain in the minds and conscience of the families of the victims and those affected, and of every living conscience” in the Middle East and beyond.

White Helmets team searching through the rubble in Silqeen in NW Syria; Credit: Syriawise/Fared Al Mahlool

Al-Homayed goes on to say, in his opinion article published on Feb. 12, that it is true that the earthquake is the worst in 100 years, but numbers tell us that we have seen, and are seeing, something even worse.

“there are those who talk about the catastrophe of the earthquake as an attempt to ‘wash the reputation’ of the Assad regime”

Tariq Al-Homayed

“Today, there are those who talk about the catastrophe of the earthquake as an attempt to ‘wash the reputation’ of the Assad regime, and this in itself is a catastrophe and a tragedy,” writes Al-Homayed. Again, it is true that the earthquake has killed tens of thousands in Syria and Turkey and displaced millions but Al-Homayed exposes the hypocrisy of these whitewashing attempts when he asks: “What are the numbers of Assad and Iran’s crimes in Syria?”

Al-Homayed writes that according to statistics published in 2021 more than 400,000 Syrians had been killed by the Assad regime and its allies in Syria and that does not include those who have been killed since then.

“The number of times chemical weapons have been used in Syria, since the revolution, has reached 38 times, according to the United Nations, 32 of them are attributed to the Assad regime

Tariq Al-Homayed

“According to the United Nations, more than 6 million Syrians have been displaced inside the country due to the violence of the Assad regime and Iran, and the Russian intervention, while 5.5 million have been displaced outside Syria.

“The number of times chemical weapons have been used in Syria, since the revolution, has reached 38 times, according to the United Nations, 32 of them are attributed to the Assad regime, and just two weeks ago, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons condemned the Assad regime for using chemical weapons in Douma, Eastern Ghouta, in 2018.”

Based on these numbers alone, “the magnitude of the disasters and tragedies caused by humans, specifically the Assad regime, Iran’s militias in Syria, as well as the Russian intervention”, far exceeds the scale of the tragedy left by the earthquake writes Al-Homayed.

“those who are trying to ‘whitewash’ the Assad regime after its crimes in Syria […] are committing a grave and compound mistake

Tariq Al-Homayed

While the earthquake was an unavoidable natural disaster, the regime’s crimes “were caused by barrel bombs and chemical weapons, in addition to torture and executions, all of which are documented, and because of which Caesar sanctions were issued. Likewise, the use of ISIS, the intervention of Iranian militias, and the Russian bombing that alone killed about 9,000 Syrians,” Al-Homayed continues

Therefore, the international community, which expresses its regret over the disaster of the earthquake, specifically in Syria, and wants to help now, needs to know that the crimes of Assad and Iran, which it did nothing to stop, exceeded what the earthquake did and “those who are trying to ‘whitewash’ the Assad regime after its crimes in Syria […] are committing a grave and compound mistake. A mistake for the victims of the Assad regime, and now a mistake for the victims of the earthquake” for many of the Syrians who were victims of the recent earthquake were already struggling as a result of being victims first and foremost of the Assad regime.

“it is not possible to play on people’s emotions now and to distract their memories”

Tariq Al-Homayed

Al-Homayed sums up his article by saying “it is not possible to play on people’s emotions now and to distract their memories” just as it is not possible to accept solutions for the recent tragedy at the expense of larger and ongoing tragedies perpetrated by the Assad regime and Iran in Syria.

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