Editor’s Note: Ruwan Rujouleh is a Syria expert and Middle East analyst at the Tony Blair Faith Foundation Centre on Religion and Geopolitics. The opinions in this article belong to the author.
Rujouleh: We no longer believe in the power of freedom to transform the world
There have been many opportunities to stop atrocities, but time and time again the free world has looked away
The last 48 hours have been the most savage yet for the people of Aleppo, where unarmed civilians have reportedly been shot on the spot, poison gas has been used indiscriminately and activists have posted tragic goodbyes on social media as they await capture or worse.
What Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and the Russians have done is horrific beyond words. But they have been enabled by inaction from the West and its allies.
Syrians in Aleppo couldn’t possibly have done anything more to make their wishes clear. They wanted the West to help when Assad butchered protesters; they wanted help when the Russians joined in with the bombing, and as a last lifeline, they wanted the West to provide humanitarian aid.
There have been plenty of opportunities to step in. But time and time again, the free world has looked away.
Let us be clear. There were jihadis in Aleppo. Across Syria, jihadi groups form part of Assad’s opposition.
Unfortunately, that gives Russian and Syrian claims to be fighting extremism a morbid ring of truth, even as they allow jihadi fighters to retreat to Idlib.
But we could have denied them that opportunity, had we turned our pity into action.
From the fear that led Britain’s Parliament and the US Congress to render President Obama’s 2013 “red line” over chemical weapons meaningless, to the ideological inaction of the hard left and hard right who believe the world is safer with Russia in charge, inaction has paralyzed the entire West, leaving us unable to help those most in need.
A duty to act
We’re at a point today where Western values of the rule of law, democracy, mutual respect, dissent, love of peace and tolerance, are so taken for granted that people no longer see them as worth fighting for.
Which world leader is willing to help those most in need, simply because they should be free from the shackles of fear?
We no longer believe in the power of freedom to transform the world.
We are content to live in a modern era of detente, characterized by a resignation to accommodating those who oppose our worldview and threaten our core way of life.
Time after time we say never again. Yet, once more, we watched a massacre and did nothing to st