Every now and then, the conflict in Syria produces an iconic image of horror and suffering, which many brandish as an undisputable truth that will finally shake the world into “doing something”. Others break down at the sight of such images, or instinctively avert their senses. Mass killings and disappearances, industrial-scale torture and sexual abuse, gruesome staged executions, starvation tactics, the continued use of chemical weapons, napalm, cluster and barrel bombs, not to forget the torments of desperate emigration – all have spawned morbid emblems of their own.
Peter Harling, one of the foremost analysts of Syrian politics and the founder of Synaps, is a member of the advisory panel of the Shattuck Center on Conflict, Negotiation and Recovery.
“It is time to define it [urbicide] more precisely as the deliberate destruction of urban life beyond anything that might be justified by military necessity as a way to erase identity and expel populations. It is also time to make it a crime,” argue Robert Templer and AlHakam Shaar in a recent article about the urbicide taking place in Aleppo. Shaar and Templer predict that Aleppo will survive the current onslaught – as it has survived “centuries of disasters from earthquakes to plagues of mice, from the collapse of empires to shifts in the routes of global trade” – and that when it does states and the international community have a responsibility to help Aleppo rebuild. “We have failed to protect the Syrian people; we should not fail them again when it comes to reconstruction.”
You can read the full text of the article in the August 2016 issue of TVERGASTEIN – Interdisciplinary Journal of the Environmenthere.
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“Do certain images of injured kids stay in my mind more than others? If you asked me that two years ago, then I could probably give an answer. But today, after witnessing the huge number of massacres that I have, it’s very hard to think of one specific instance. It’s become a daily occurrence. Now images stay in my mind for a short while before they slip away, to take their place alongside all the others. My own personal graveyard.” AFP Photographer Abd Doumany