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Can we Turn Disaster Into Opportunity?

Marwan Qabalan wrote in the pan-Arab al-Araby al-Jadeed an op-ed about how this crisis could, if properly utilized, be transformed into positive political action.
Can we Turn Disaster Into Opportunity?

The absence of state institutions during the earthquake disaster, as well as the political and legal complications associated with the entry of relief and rescue teams through the border crossings, resulted in the loss of many lives. This is in contrast to the flow of aid and rescue operations on the Turkish side of the border. These issues are the result of political actions, with the first source being the regime’s failure to manage the crisis, which has turned into a disaster. This has led to the destruction of the country and the loss of its power to control large parts of it, leaving some areas as arenas of influence for regional and international powers.

Who Stole the Earthquake?

Due to this reason, we have witnessed extreme polarization among Syrians, especially on social media, where each political event is subject to mutual accusations of political exploitation of the crisis from either side. The regime attempted to use the crisis to break its state of isolation and return to the international community, while the opposition attempted to use the crisis to improve its image after years of poor performance. Regional and international actors also used the crisis for their own purposes.

Despite the scale of the disaster, which is still unfolding with the likelihood of the number of Syrian victims increasing significantly due to the high population density of Syrian refugees in the areas hit by the earthquake in Turkey, the crisis has also revealed some positive aspects. Among the sea of negatives and accusations on social media, one positive aspect is the amount of solidarity and unity that has emerged among Syrians in both regime and opposition areas in response to the catastrophe. This is evidence that the Syrian social fabric, torn apart by years of war and conflict, still holds some hope. This has been evident in fundraising campaigns and calls for aid to be delivered to the affected people, regardless of their political positions or whereabouts, whether in regime or opposition areas. It is important to focus on these positive aspects and continue to promote unity and solidarity among Syrians as they work to recover from this disaster.  

Second, the reliance on local capabilities and resources in rescue and relief operations, despite the delay in the international community’s response to the disaster, has contributed to Syrians regaining confidence in their own potential and their ability to find solutions and regain the initiative that has been taken away by regional and international actors who may not have their best interests in mind. This has demonstrated the resilience of the Syrian people and their ability to work together towards a common goal, despite their political differences.

Third, amidst the international community’s neglect of the Syrian tragedy, Arab countries have shown solidarity with the Syrian people at both popular and official levels. Most of the aid and donations that reached Syrians, whether in areas controlled by the regime or the opposition, came from Arab countries, both rich and poor. Additionally, rescue and medical teams came from countries such as Algeria, Egypt, Sudan, Tunisia, and Jordan, and large donations were made by countries including Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Kuwait, and others.   

The significant Arab solidarity with the Syrian people during this crisis could, if properly utilized, be transformed into positive political action. This is because Syria is an integral part of the Arab nation, and therefore, the Arab world has a primary responsibility toward it. The absence of the Arab world from the Syrian crisis for many years has had devastating consequences, including leaving Syria vulnerable to foreign interests that have seized its cause and turned it into a sphere of influence.

The earthquake tragedy can be transformed into an opportunity to unite Syrians and regain the initiative toward a political solution that serves their interests with the support and sponsorship of Arab countries.

 

This article was translated and edited by The Syrian Observer. The Syrian Observer has not verified the content of this story. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.

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