The true price of Middle East peace

Octavia Nasr

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Peace never comes at a cheap price. In the Middle East, one might argue that peace never comes at all despite the best efforts, dedication and sacrifice of many heroes.

The Middle East is filled with stories of heroes and villains, but unlike fairy tales, here the suffering is real. In this story, everyone is left to fend for themselves while the villain is out to get everyone he can. Here, there is rarely any hope for a happy ending.

At the end of the day, politics change, policies change and politicians change but the suffering that results from them does not.

Octavia Nasr

Take Syria for example with millions of Syrians scattered around a shadow of a country or around the Middle East, aimless refugees, uncertain if they will ever return home or to what they will return. There are so many stories of suffering and what seems like unbearable pain that Syrians feel through every waking moment. More than 100,000 people have been killed in the past two and a half years. Just imagine how many hearts are bleeding at the loss. Then take a look at the ghost cities left over from a catastrophic conflict. Hearts ache at the destruction and at hearing Syrians lament over their losses, pain and shock.

Comparisons in the region

No one is better equipped to understand the magnitude of suffering than anti-Assad Lebanese. Not only because they went through a devastating civil war that killed and uprooted people and destroyed their nation, but especially because the brunt of the devastation came at the hands of the same Syrian regime that is now destroying its own country under the guise of protecting it and defending its people.

Remember how, during Lebanon’s 15-year civil war, people held on to hope with every envoy to the region and efforts made around the world to bring peace to Lebanon. Remember as well that with every hopeful move there were many depressing setbacks.

As Bashar al-Assad promises to make his chemical facilities available for U.N. inspection and his stockpiles available for destruction, one can only wonder what twists and turns will come into play to derail those efforts. As the United States and Iran open up channels of communication, once more we hold our breath as we wonder how this positive move will be shattered and by whom.

At the end of the day, politics change, policies change and politicians change but the suffering that results from them does not. Syria has entered a dark and dangerous tunnel.

Syrians will keep walking aimlessly as their Lebanese counterparts did before them, until they accept a pre-packaged peace deal. Those pre-sewn suits are the only Middle East “peace” we have ever known!

This article was first published in Lebanon-based Annahar on Oct. 1, 2013.


Multi-award-winning journalist Octavia Nasr served as CNN’s senior editor of Middle Eastern affairs, and is regarded as one of the pioneers of the use of social media in traditional media. She moved to CNN in 1990, but was dismissed in 2010 after tweeting her sorrow at the death of Hezbollah’s Mohammed Fadlallah. Nasr now runs her own firm, Bridges Media Consulting, whose main aim is to help companies better leverage the use of social networks.

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