Personal Writing #01: Syrian Nightmare

Some people have a few recurring dreams they never forget. My mother likes to talk about dreams and has a book in Arabic that interprets their meanings. We have a few family stories of how so-and-so predicted this-and-that through their dreams, and it’s something that I thought was very entertaining but nothing more.

But I guess the Universe can have a morbid sense of humor.

Mine was a short, intense dream: I was in Syria, alone and in front of my great-grandmother’s house in the Insha’at neighborhood. My heart would begin to panic as I realized her building was damaged from the “War”, that I was alone, and I didn’t know where my family was (were they alive?!)—and then I would wake up and tell myself it was just a dream and that war would not happen in Syria. I was 15.

Now I’m 23, the Insha’at neighborhood has been under relentless bombardment by the Assad regime for some countless months now—I don’t even know. Somethings my memory blurs and I don’t want to think about. Other things are sharp in my mind.

I do know that in Spring 2011, a boy had his brains shot out by the Syrian government for attending a peaceful protest. I know that the Syrian Army shoves rats up the vaginas of detained women. I know the besieged areas are starving and know that 10 children froze to death this winter. I know of a girl my age that is in detention and subject to torture— and I know that when her dad saw her, he went home and died of a heart attack the next day. I know that a son brought home a flashlight he found on the street, and it exploded when the father used it. I know that in a country of 17 million people, 8 million are displaced.

I know what SCUD missiles, Cluster bombs, Barrel bombs, TNT barrels and Thermal bombs are.

I know that 1 million people are starving because the Assad regime has not opened up safe humanitarian corridors into the country. This means that organizations like The United Nations cannot deliver aid to people inside the country.

I know that the poor of Syria are taking the brunt of the war, I know that this war is falling along class lines. I know that as the bombs fall on Syria, souls are rising up to the sky.

I know that Syria has tested the meaning of “solidarity” and “allyship”, amongst the political Left, Pro-Palestinian activists, intersectional feminists, human rights activists, and especially amongst Syrian-Americans.

I know that extremist groups like Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), an off-shoot of Al Qaeda, are taking over northern Syria against the will of the people.

This nightmare is worse than anyone could have ever imagined, ever. Anyone following the Syrian Revolution will see it is a true revolution demanded by the people, and rejected by the Assad regime and the UN Security Council. It’s open-season for abuse when a Revolution is denied by the world.

A friend of mine has repeatedly reminded me: “You know Shiyam, there are other places in the world that are suffering, Syria is not the only one. Look at the Congo. More people have died there.”

I don’t like comparing human tragedies, but let me explain something:

The UN calls Syria “the worst humanitarian crisis of our time” not because of body count, but because of the safety net spun by Russia, China, and Iran to protect the Assad regime from repercussions, placing Syria in trajectory that will be like nothing we have seen. They call it the worst humanitarian crisis of our times because they see where it is going.

As another friend said: The darkest days are ahead of us.

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