By Arsalan Iftikhar
As innocent civilians continue to be slaughtered within the besieged Syrian city of Aleppo, our greatest present-day humanitarian catastrophe can be largely attributed to the fact that the Muslim world has failed the people of Syria.
Even though many nations and organizations (especially the United States and the United Nations through inaction, and Russia through direct aggression) rightfully bear the majority of collective blame for their woeful treatment of Syria, it is important to acknowledge that 1.7 billion Muslims have also let the people of Syria down in several ways.
Independent war-crimes investigators working for the Commission for International Justice & Accountability once smuggled out of Syria “more than 600,000 official documents tracing the systematic torture and murder” of tens of thousands of suspected members of the opposition, as reported in the New Yorker. According to these groups, these official documents were direct orders “emanating from President Bashar al-Assad’s highest-level security committee and approved by President Assad himself.”
The Syrian government and their Russian benefactors have been violating international law for several months by dropping incendiary bombs on areas populated by civilians, according to an August 2016 report by Human Rights Watch. “The Syrian government and Russia should immediately stop attacking civilian areas with incendiary weapons,” Steve Goose, arms director at Human Rights Watch, said in the report. “These weapons inflict horrible injuries and excruciating pain, so all countries should condemn their use in civilian areas.”
And yet, despite the reckless destruction of so many Muslim lives, two supposedly Islamic countries — Iran and Saudi Arabia — are acting like petulant children, callously using Syria as the latest staging ground in their Sunni-Shiite proxy war for regional power. Both Iran and Saudi Arabia are funding their respective fighting forces, with the Syrian civilian population as the casualties of their endless crossfire. Of course, the Sunni-Shiite framing of the ongoing Saudi Arabia-Iran proxy war is something of a misnomer: The fight is about political power, not theology, and both of these apparently Muslim countries should be ashamed of themselves for using innocent Syrian women and children as expendable pawns in their dastardly geopolitical chess game.
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