Most of the world has stood by and done nearly nothing other than watch since 2011 – since the civil war in Syria started. We have not in any significant way intervened to prevent the widespread suffering or even to alleviate it, despite the regime of President Bashar al-Assad being directly responsible for:
- Some 500,000 Syrians dead.
- Some 5 million people forcibly displaced within Syria.
- Some 6 million people forced to flee Syria.
Now, as I write, is unfolding what the United Nations has described as the worst humanitarian catastrophe since the beginning of the war: a vicious offensive – backed by the Russians and Iranians – intended to force the still renegade province of Idlib back into the clutches of the government. Back into the clutches of the president.
Let there be no mistaking. The United Nations emergency relief coordinator, Mark Lowcock, has described the military advance on Idlib, which has already forced the flight of nearly a million people, as “the biggest humanitarian horror story of the 21st century.”
Meantime, the United Nations itself is hamstrung because Russia continues to use its veto to block the Security Council from taking meaningful action. And the United States and Europe are precluded by their own indifference from doing anything significant to staunch the suffering.
What is a bystander? What is a follower? What is a bystander follower? For the answers to all three of these questions, see above.