No Recipes and Old Recipies

April 4, 2014 - Can I be honest with you? As a (half-) Jordanian who has friends in Syria and knows that country pretty well, I find it harder and harder every day to log on to my Twitter timeline in the morning. I have been covering terrorism for more than a decade now and during the worst years of the Iraqi insurgency I would spend my mornings in the newsroom watching decapitation videos, so it's not that I am not used to graphic images.

But in the case of Syria, what makes me take in my timeline with eyes half-shut only is images of dead or wounded children that will stay with me no matter what. Such is the extent of brutality and arbitrary as well as targeted violence in this conflict that I can't help but feel sad, lost, angry and helpless at the same time almost every single day.

I also feel defeated, for there is nothing in sight, no power, no credible force, no convincing idea or concept for a solution, that would allow me to believe that this is going to be over any time soon. Instead I am afraid that things may yet get worse for the people I care about most - civilians who just want to go about heir lives. This can't only be about taking sides between the parties in the armed conflict (like Russia and Iran supporting the regime, and Saudi and Qatar supporting the armed opposition). It should be about the people of Syria.

The Lebanese civil war lasted from 1975 until 1990. I have reached a point at which I wouldn't rule out any more that the Syrian civil war might last as long. What a terrible outlook.

I feel personally closer to Syria, but I also love Egypt. During the revolution, in early 2011, I spent almost three weeks there. It was a great experience. But not much of that spirit seems to be left.

Instead, the new regime of the day has decided to crack down on the Muslim brotherhood and to frame that as an Egyptian version of the War on Terror. I am aware of the Egyptian debate and why this idea may resonate with a large number of Egyptians.

But this is not what this post is about. I am trying to make a different point here: If we have no recipe in the case of Syria, we have ample reason to interpret what the Egyptian government is doing as a bad recipe.

A recipe that has failed before, decades ago. Failed in such a spectacular way that it helped Al-Qaida grow. Failed in such a way that it turned people into militants who weren't militants before.

I understand that there is even less space for interference in the Egyptian case. But this post is not really about how we - the international community - should react. Instead, it is about how in both theaters we should be aware that what lies ahead us may be even worse than what we have seen so far.

I hate to spell it out. I don't want it to be true. I hope I will be proven wrong. But at this point my conclusion is that in Syria and Egypt many more people will die at the hand of militant Islamists (and in the Syrian case, of course, by the hand of the regime, too.)

What this means for the Global Jihadist Movement, for Al-Qaida and other Islamist networks is something that I am very interested in - but not in this post. In this post I am just expressing my sadness. Two great countries, two great peoples -- and many more lives that will be lost in vain.

I am dreading tomorrow morning's logging onto Twitter. Do you know what I am talking about?












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