Five ways to kill a Syrian

A frequent scene in Syria is nowadays a child’s body being pulled out from under debris

Raed Omari
Raed Omari
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When Edwin Brock wrote his famous poem, ‘Five Ways to Kill a Man’, seen as one of the best-known poems of the last century, his aim was not to amuse his readers using a catchy title but to sarcastically, dispassionately and chillingly show how death could turn into an everyday issue due to the cruelty and absurdity of politics, employing a matter-of-fact tone resembling that of dry news-casting.

The renown poem can be rewritten to be on Syria with a slight modification to the title to be “Five Ways to Kill a Syrian”, for there is in the war-torn country and the international community’s handling of its ongoing crisis all elements of absurdity out of which a good satirical story can be written.

In the always variable Syria, death or killing has proved to be the only constant matter with the number of causalities per day being the only affirmative news items reported by “unheard” human rights agencies and carried by “desperate” news agencies. The only slight change is in the number of deaths per day.

In juxtaposition to the never-unified political rhetoric on the Syrian crisis, killing there has been a steady phenomenon, massively committed in a number of ways, varying from sever bombardment and intense shelling of cities and suburbs, nerve gas attacks, TNT-filled barrel bombs, starvation under unbreakable siege and refuge-seeking quests.

A frequent scene in Syria is nowadays a child’s body being pulled out from under debris or starving children crying for food or elderly men expressing the agony of finding food in Syria’s besieged suburbs or refugee camps

Raed Omari

A frequent scene in Syria is nowadays a child’s body being pulled out from under debris or starving children crying for food or elderly men expressing the agony of finding food in Syria’s besieged suburbs or refugee camps. No clues have been provided yet over what, why and how is all of. The Syrians’ “SOS” calls never found international response even in Geneva.

It is as if more indecisiveness on Syria does not mean more killings with the international community’s reluctance on the disaster-stricken Syria having only one single interpretation: “Let more Syrians be killed.”

What has been established in Syria is the ‘systematic killing” with all other considerations being nothing more than assumptions always subject to change even humanity. In other words, death is the only guaranteed and affordable matter by the Syrian regime’s “systematic killing machine” which is only condemned in “fancy” international gatherings.


In fact, the absurdity of Syria and the world’s unresponsiveness to dehumanization there has reached climax with the story of the Aug.21 chemical attack on Damascus’ rebel-held Eastern Ghouta.

The U.S.-led international community’s firmness only on the stockpiled chemical weapons of the Syrian regime has also one single interpretation: “It is illegal and a red-line warning to kill using mass destruction weapons but not that big deal to kill in conventional methods.” The Syrian regime has got the “hint’ anyway and has been massively killing people using traditional weapons and conventional techniques.

Again, the meaning of killing in Syria is never single but relatively interpreted according to varying contexts. This is just absurd.

However, even the “drama” of Syria’s chemical weapons stockpile, which again was the only component of Syria’s war to receive international attention, has not been addressed adequately so far. The story has been so much forgotten with no mentioning of who unleashed the sarin gas upon the civilian population.


The Syrian government is seemingly indifferent to the delay in handing over its chemical weapons to be destroyed under a deal brokered by Russia and the United States.

With this international community’s reluctance on Syria, one finds it not that surprising then to see Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem reportedly demanding an apology from the U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry over remarks the latter made during the recently concluded Geneva II peace conference on Syria. Not even surprising to see the Syrian regime not handing over its chemical weapons as swiftly scheduled under the U.S.- Russian brokered agreement.

Quick evaporation

The same can be said also about the recently-released pictures of the tortured and executed 11000 detainees by the regime in Syria. The international community’s and international human rights organizations’ attention to the horrible pictures has quickly evaporated before being translated into an institutionalized fact-finding mission.

Despite even the “touching” speeches on the striking and large-scale suffering of the Syrian people by representatives of nations who took part in the first round of the recently concluded Geneva II peace talks on Syria, an agreement by Damascus to allow the first 12-truck convoy into the besieged city of Homs was the only tangible outcome and only true breakthrough in the talks.

Many observers, myself included, were then wrong in pinning hopes in the capability of the much-delayed peace talks not to bring an end to the ongoing war but at least to alleviate the suffering of the helpless Syrian power.

Yet, the international powers that brought together the Syrian regime and opposition to the negotiating table in Geneva are now looking for a party to blame for the deadlock in the much-derailed peace talks instead of blaming themselves.

Baked opposition

It was the Syrian National Coalition chief Ahmad al-Jarba, said to be baked by the West, who had to travel to Moscow in a helpless quest for a break into the Russian stubborn stance on Syria and its unaltered alliance with the Syrian regime and not Kerry or any other Western leader. If such a breakthrough has not been achieved in Geneva with the presence of all the Western anti-President Bashar al-Assad leaders, how could it be achieved in Moscow by al-Jarba alone? An agent seeking a deal with a broker is just one inseparable component of Syria’s absurdity.

In politics, a failure in negotiations is commonly interpreted as “deadlock” or a ‘return to square one” but in Syria’s case it means and only means that a “child’s life is cut short.”

Raed Omari is a Jordanian journalist, political analyst, parliamentary affairs expert, and commentator on local and regional political affairs. His writing focuses on the Arab Spring, press freedoms, Islamist groups, emerging economies, climate change, natural disasters, agriculture, the environment and social media. He is a writer for The Jordan Times, and contributes to Al Arabiya English. He can be reached via [email protected], or on Twitter @RaedAlOmari2

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.
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