The clinical death of the Syrian people

The clinical death of the Syrian people
Comment: Syrians now cling to the shrinking margins of the lives they once had, existing only as the living dead.
5 min read
24 Feb, 2015
Syrians have become the living dead [Getty]

Death is the full stop at the end of life that gives life's "clauses" meaning and substance. The inevitable end of a finite lifetime reminds people that they need to live, to seize the day while it lasts.

But death in Syria is different. It is deliberate and willfull. It is a dark game played by the demons of war.

It is both murder and mass murder, a product picked up by satellite channels and broadcast throughout the years of killing. Death is messages posted on forums packed with ideologies and creeds, inciting murder, teaching fanaticism and brutality and keeping death alive.

Death in Syria is now the world's biggest star - its news, pictures and latest feats are the stuff of front page headlines.

But alongside this slaughter there is its more sinister and more insidious counterpart, which works silently, in the dark, pushing the country into perdition and relishing the lack of attention from the world. Let's call it Clinical Death. This Clinical Death has irrefutable signs.

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Syrian citizens, if we can call them citizens, now live on the margins of life, margins that are growing ever smaller.

Today, Syrians can barely dream of breathing, and they live in a society where violence in all its forms has been imposed as the sole avenue for social interaction.

Deprivation and misery

Death in Syria is different. It is deliberate and willfull. It is a dark game played by the demons of war.

Deprivation is the name of the game. Warmth is now something consigned to the distant past. There is no heating fuel, except that which is supplied through the mercy of war profiteers and the black market.

There is no electricity either. Although official rationing measures give people half a day of power to do what they need to do, even this half-day is rendered useless because of the crumbling grid, putting people at the mercy of any storm - or even a strong wind.

A downpour of rain may damage cables, start fires, or cause pylons to fall and claim the lives of people who foolishly thought walking safely on the pavement was their right.

Indeed, people in Syria have died from electrocution from accidents like these.

The government hotline dedicated to complaints is rarely answered. The hotline is perhaps too hot for the people in charge of answering to pick up the call, lest their ears burn. In the meantime, the callers suppress their anger, and let their frustration eat them up from the inside, as their problems remain without any solution.

This is despite the fact that the callers, the peaceful law-abiding citizens, pay their bills in full, while taking into account the exchange rate. They also pay a fee for reconstruction, and a fee to support the war effort, for a conflict we were not consulted on, and other fees added to all bills that citizens pay willingly.

Food is now more expensive than citizens can afford. People are thus being forced to be modest in what and wear, and their ability to eat enough and sustain themselves is severely under threat.

Syrians are now at the mercy of various profiteers and gangs with their various specialties, gangs that depend on parties in the conflict. They have fallen prey to regional gangs, gangs of thieves, and even invisible gangs that have infested the public sector and state institutions.

Bribes that once took place in the shadows or through brokers nicknamed "keys" in the past, are now public, crude and brazen. Laws are being violated in a much more dramatic way than in the past, and the years of crisis have been a perfect incubator for corruption.

All this is happening while the state is preoccupied with a more important undertaking: the security of citizens and fighting "terrorism".

A living death

Syrian citizens are glued to their television screens, watching their own ugly death, watching their fate descending from the sky in the form of explosive barrels, or bloody knives. Syrians can smell gunpowder, fresh blood, and human flesh being burned.

Syrian citizens are glued to their television screens, watching their own ugly death.

As they do so, they are paralysed by the atrocities. They know no security or safety.

Their only concern has become finding sustenance for a day, and surviving after each shell or missile falling from all sides of the earth.

They are lucky now for merely being alive, despite all the miseries of being alive.

The youth of the country often find themselves looking into the eyes of their comrades, of whom nothing is left but obituaries stuck on walls, the trunks of dismembered trees, and out-of-order street lights.

They read calls for death on the posters, as they try to escape the same fate. Syrian youths roam aimlessly through the world, fleeing the spectre of death.

No one shows mercy to this people as they face death. Hope is thwarted before even a single step is taken toward peace.

Society in Syria is paralysed. Its energy, its potential is being squandered. There is no hope, no ambition, no safety, and no security. There is nothing to do but to sit and wait for death.

The Syrian people have to cope with shocks and aftershocks of all magnitudes. They have to contend with innumerable crises. Syrians have no time to think or create anything, they only wait for death.

Syrians are gradually moving away from being classed as alive - they are now comatose, on the verge of death. Isn't this a clinical death?

Opinions expressed in this article remain those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of al-Araby al-Jadeed, its editorial board or staff.

This is an edited translation from our Arabic edition.