Starvation: Assad's Newest Weapon

It’s been a while since I’ve talked about Syria, but that doesn’t mean I’ve forgotten. And now, luckily for you, I’m back to keep you up to date.

Amidst global scrutiny regarding the deployment of chemical weapons in Syria, Bashar al-Assad has turned to the past for a new way to inflict terror and suffering: starvation. Slate aptly calls starvation a “weapon of mass destruction,” [1] and indeed it has been for centuries. notably against Jews in World War II and as part of siege in the Medieval Ages. Today, 800,000 civilians are under siege in Syria, according to the United Nations. The surrounding areas of cities including Homs, Deir Ezzor, and Aleppo have been completely cut off from any food, medical supplies or humanitarian aid, and the people in these areas can’t leave. Claiming that he does not want to feed armed rebels, Bashar has blocked supply and food trucks from reaching these people, who have become so desperate that they have resorted to eating cactus and animals such as cats and dogs, which is normally prohibited under Muslim law. Moreover, many of these people have contracted diseases due to a lack of doctors and medical supplies. 

Indeed, starvation is a particularly useful and convenient tool. It’s inexpensive, doesn’t require conventional weaponry, and causes large-scale damage. Most importantly, however, is the fact that the world is accustomed to starvation. It’s an easier pill to swallow than the newer, scarier idea of chemical weapons of mass destruction. And though the international community should absolutely not ignore this urgent issue, it’s unlikely that this development will spark nearly as much media coverage, debate, and controversy as did the use of chemical weapons. Hopefully, this atrocious act will not go ignored. Hopefully, these long-suffering people will finally get the help they need. Hopefully, the world has not forgotten Syria.

 

[1] http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/foreigners/2014/02/bashar_al_assad_killing_syrians_through_starvation_the_syrian_dictator_is.html

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