The case for ignoring ISIS’ murders

A piece I wrote for Huffington Post. Original can be read here.

The central square of a major Syrian city. Two dozen bodies are piled high, limbs distorted, faces contorted and mutilated. The remaining local residents swarm by, encouraged by the murderers to view the price of resistance.

One witness records the scene, describing it as a “Dantesque horror: the corpses’ shoes were scattered all about; they had tragic faces, their arms outstretched. One, so very young, still had his mouth open, as if he were crying something out…it was a scene of human carnage.”

The flag of the Islamic State
The flag of the Islamic State

These visions have become depressingly common as the militants from the self-proclaimed Islamic State (formerly known and hereafter referred to as ISIS) have swept across large swathes of both Syria and Iraq in recent months, massacring thousands and displacing over half a million. Yet this is not Raqqa or other areas controlled by ISIS. This is not even the 21st century.

This morbid scene took place in October 1925, the perpetrators the French colonial occupying force. Following the start of what would become known as the Great Syrian Revolt 1925-7, the bodies of the twenty-four rebels were dragged to the centre of Damascus and portrayed as a lesson for all to see.

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Child labor climbs among Iraqi refugees in Lebanon

This article was published by IRIN, the UN’s press service, on February 4

BEIRUT, 3 February 2014 (IRIN) – Ali Al Wasate may only be 13, but he has been forced to grow up. No longer in school, he has begun the painstaking search for work to help his family pay the bills in Beirut, Lebanon.

(Copyright: IRIN)
(Copyright: IRIN)

It was not always this way. When he was younger, living in Baghdad, his stepfather Ahmed had a well-paid government job, and Ali attended a good school. Nine years after the US-led invasion of Iraq, they felt that they had survived the worst of the situation. Then one day, everything changed.

“I was coming home from work one day, and two men with beards were waiting,” Ahmed said. “They accused me of being a spy and told me to leave the neighbourhood before it was too late. I asked them who sent them, but they told me it was dangerous to ask those kinds of questions.”

Convinced their lives were at risk, the Wasates packed up and fled to Lebanon. There, they became part of a small community of between 6,000 and 7,000 Iraqi refugees awaiting resettlement in a third country.

The family wanted Ali to continue studying, but when they started looking for a place to enrol him they were struck by the country’s high prices. Basics in Lebanon, such as rent, are often more than double the cost of those in Iraq. “We brought money that we thought would last two years. It was gone in six months,” Ahmed said.

Read the rest of the article here

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