By Suhaib Shahab
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine seems so cruel, unwarranted and pointless. If you think so, let me inform you how Syria started.
Back in 2011, 15 kids were arrested, beaten, tortured, had their fingernails ripped out on just spraying anti-Assad graffiti on a school wall in Dara’a. Parents in the town started demanding their kids back – “Forget your kids. If you want kids, make more kids. If you don’t know how, ….” – the Assad’s regime replied. Protests and riots in Dara’a spread across cities and in turn Assad started killing his own people.
What next? For 11 years he used barrel bombs, chemical weapons, air strikes, to target civilians! Schools, hospitals, homes, were all targets. In 2014 Putin joined in. Humanitarian Aid groups estimate that they – conservatively – have killed 5 lakh Syrians – 50,000 of them kids. Millions were displaced. There are literally more Syrians living outside of Syria than inside. Lakhs are living in camps with no infrastructure or basic needs. A generation of kids hasn’t seen a classroom or a hospital. All towns are gone. Assad’s and Putin’s genocide on the Syrian people is ongoing and is still happening today. Graffiti on a high school wall! That’s all it took for Assad and Putin to murder half a million. So if you’re surprised that Putin can do what he’s doing in Ukraine, which did nothing to Russia; just remember they don’t need a reason.
The Syrians recount horrors of Putin’s heinous invasion of Ukraine. For them it’s a repeat telecast, the highlights of sufferings they had gone through and are still going through. Horrific noises of warplanes, jets, airstrikes, missiles, kids running, the entire catastrophic scenes for them is their nightmare which they are watching live on televisions during Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. They don’t want anybody to go through what they had gone through and are still going through.
Did the European Union impose any sanctions? Did FIFA suspend Russia? Did Manchester United and other teams protest in match field? Of course, Yes! The exception; CR7; the G.O.A.T; Christinao Ronaldo himself who has always been vocal for Syrian Kids or be them Palestinians. But they didn’t make headlines in the mainstream probably because they aren’t with “BLUE EYES and BLONDE HAIR”? OR “Civilised”? OR They don’t look much “EUROPEAN”?
If accepting this is racism or a matter of white supremacy then Bosnians had been invaded too, they are Europeans, Blondes with Blue eyes. To be clear : This not ‘What-Aboutism’. This is wanting moral consistency and moral leadership from world leaders as it rightly criticises the Russian government for what could be war crimes in Ukraine.
Legendary Footballer Mohamed Aboutrika has called for double standards after Federation of International Football sanctioned Russia from all football competitions. According to the Al Ahly legend, FIFA should also ban Israel for their involvement in the death of children and women in Palestine. In an interview he said: “The decision to suspend Russian clubs and teams from all competitions must be accompanied by a ban on those affiliated with Israel, which has been killing children and women in Palestine for years.”
The war in Ukraine allows Putin to showcase Moscow’s control over its sphere of influence, willingness to combat socially accepted threats and feeds into popular conceptions of “Russian strength”. It is an identity construction and authoritarian consolidation. Regime insecurity has also been exaggerated as a driver of Russian aggression. The 2011-12 protests might have influenced Russian alarmism about Euro-Maidan and the Arab Spring, but there was no serious threat of unrest diffusing from Kyiv and Cairo to Moscow.
Russia’s aggressive activities replete with war crimes at its border or in a faraway land must be unequivocally condemned and sanctioned on a largescale unanimously, throughout the globe. Be in Europe, Asia or beyond – human blood is human blood.