Freedom isn’t free, but …

by Tahira Rifath

I’ve tried to understand how people can be happy Assad’s forces reclaimed Aleppo from the rebels, claiming they’re “happy it’s over” and “the rebels were worse than the regime”. There’s 4 things that don’t make sense:

1) It’s not up for debate which side has inflicted more harm on innocent people. There isn’t an information gap or bias here. Even if you lumped all freedom fighters into their worst form, a bunch of looters and extremists, it’s impossible to equate that with civilian bombings, chemical attacks, and humanitarian chokeholds. At worst, the rebels are well-intentioned bad actors, but the government’s intentions and actions were orders of magnitude worse from Day 1 and continue to worsen. We sat at the table with this regime for years, but blame those who they pushed to extreme conditions? May God help us, because miscalculating a lesser-than-two-evils problem is clearly not just an American issue.

2) An ethical analogy (perhaps reality) for this situation is torture – would you give up your just cause because your oppressor is torturing your family? I think no, but no matter the decision you make, the criminal here is the torturer, the regime. Should freedom fighters give up their just ideal because it’s impractical? I still think no, because it depends on the type of person you want to be – someone who died for impact or someone who died for an ideal. We tend to assume that outcomes matter most, what’s practical is right. But in the eyes of God, it’s the ideals you stick to that matter most, and Aleppo never lost sight of that.

3) Nothing suggests that government control will improve the situation of the city’s inhabitants, rather, the data shows they will enforce collective punishment on everyone who dared to stay trapped in their killbox instead of flee. This emboldens an already ruthless regime, so I can’t be “happy it’s over”, I’m gutted that it will get worse.

4) You can tell me there was no path forward for the rebels, no win in sight, but you cannot tell me that was the case all these last 4 years where the world had multiple opportunities to do the right thing and deescalate the conflict. If the loss of Aleppo doesn’t grip you with pain, perhaps you’re suffering contextual amnesia – peaceful protests started here, forcibly turned into civil war by a violent government – that’s the context you can’t forget among the finger pointing.

Freedom isn’t free, but it shouldn’t cost an arm, a leg, or the lives of millions of innocent people. In your quest to be pragmatic in the face of emotional nightmare, never miscalculate the crimes and assume the best of those who don’t deserve it, so that you can validate supporting the easier side. Live with the knowledge that those who paid dearest weren’t the regime (this was in fact their best outcome)… it was the Syrian mother, brother, and child who stood firmly for an ideal. May God reward them for it.

aleppo-syria-1Pray for Humanity