I feel that I should have written this ages ago.. about four years ago, in fact!!.. (Mind you, at the time, I didn't even know what 'blogging' was!..)
We are just over one month away from the fourth anniversary of the most devastating human catastrophe to befall our Region for centuries.. The invasion of Iraq..
Now, I am not going to talk about the morality or the legality of this war (I know.. I know.. legality?.. morality??.. and war???.. in the SAME sentence????... ). This has been debated to exhaustion on numerous platforms and all over the media.. I do not feel that I can add anything new to that debate...
It is the human catastrophe that I wish to talk about... Today, yet another car bomb devastates yet another location in Iraq.. scores killed.. hundreds maimed... and inevitably, thousands forced to consider leaving their homeland in pursuit of some sense of security...
Over four years ago, when the warmongering was gathering pace, many commentators warned about the devastation that will follow the invasion.. but they were labelled as 'spoilsports'!.. They were simply brushed aside as 'Saddamists', trying to deprive the Iraqis from the promised paradise of democracy, peace, and prosperity..
I remember at the time, my brother-in-law (he holds a high position in the Syrian Red Crescent) describing the plans to accommodate the influx of refugees that would be expected to flood across the border from Iraq, trying to escape the horrors that everyone was foreseeing.. (everyone, except for the invaders and their bandwagon, that is..)..
Sure enough, the refugees did flood in.. More like a rapidly rising tide, rather than a tsunami wave.. And Syria received them with open arms.. homes, schools, hospitals, jobs.. everything that was available to ordinary Syrians, was also available to our Iraqi brothers and sisters...
Now, anybody who have read my blogs and comments would know that I am no fan of the Syrian Regime. However, I also do not subscribe to the practice of attacking the Regime just for the heck of it.. (In fact, I have given up commenting on a number of blogs which encourage that attitude, for exactly that reason..).. The position of Syria as whole (ordinary people, 'civil societies', charitable organizations, and even Regime and Government) regarding the issue of the Iraqi refugees (and that of the Lebanese refugees when they needed our help) continues to be a source of immense pride and amazement for me..
Pride, because Syria has ALWAYS offered all it has, to share with anyone who needs it.. Even in the midst of the worsening Iraqi refugee crisis, Syria and the Syrians were willing to open their homes, and their hearts, to refugees from another neighbour.. The Lebanese were given the same welcome.. the same hospitality, if not more.... Amazement, because most Syrians are struggling to make ends meet in their everyday lives.. never mind sharing what scarce resources they have with others!!.. I have heard endless first-hand accounts from relatives of Iraqi friends about the hospitality of the ordinary Syrian people towards the Iraqis.. I will not bore you with such tales, amazing and incredible as they are... but, hey.. that is the Syrian way.. throughout the ages.. so, perhaps, I shouldn't be amazed!..
The recently announced plans to impose visa restrictions on Iraqi refugees should not detract from the fact that Syria, unlike other neighbouring Arab countries, is still prepared to provide safety and shelter to all those who need safety and shelter.. but no-one can do that indefinitely and without any rules or regulations..
I believe that credit should be given, where credit is due.. However, I also believe that, when the Syrian people opened their Country to fellow Arabs, they did not do that expecting anything in return..
And that makes this Syrian feel proud.. very proud, indeed..
(Photo: Busra Amphitheatre. Courtesy of Syria Looks)