The difference is that the victims of the typhoon are recognized as victims, while the victims of the Assadi regime are as good as invisible most of the time and when they are visible, they are predominantly vilified as the hordes of Al-Qaeda and affiliates. They are not even given the honour of being awarded the status of victims.
The whole world is mobilizing to send relief, as it should do, to the victims of Haiyan. Aircraft carriers, naval ships and cruisers are landing; transport flights from all over the world are arriving, carrying aid and all that facilitates the distribution of aid, like land rovers and earth moving vehicles. Relief agencies worldwide are put on high alert and appeals for fund raising have been launched. In the Philippine itself, the army is mobilizing to help the people because that is what armies do in times of disaster, while the government is doing its best to help deliver the aid and to coordinate the relief, and so on.
Do I need to remind you that when the media in the West , generally speaking, tries to urge the people to donate to the Syrians, they concentrate on mentioning the children as if there are no adults in Syria. And need I remind the Syrians and the world equally that the army of the President is preventing the aid from reaching the starving people, that the Shabiha militias are selling the aid packages on the streets of Damascus, that the Red Cross and relief workers are always under threat and incapable of delivering relief and medical assistance to the areas most of need, that millions of Syrians are threatened by starvation, disease and exposure to the elements this winter, that the annihilated Syrian towns and villages are left to stew in their ruins and rubble in the no man’s land the bombers, the fighter jets and the Scud missile have created . No earth moving machinery and vehicles are provided to lift the epic wreckage, and when bombs hit from the skies, people, mostly, have to dig with their bare hands in order to save their relatives and neighbours, while the regime’s snipers are targeting them.
I am mentioning all this for the sake of documentation. The Syrians have learnt the hard way that the world is tired of them, has become wilfully or wearily desensitised to their plight, that the vast panoramas of fantastic wreckage which no science fiction can portray or match have become images from an alien world they do not wish to become identified with, that the complexities and complications of the world’s war against Syria headed by the President- for- ever has become a never ending news reel that keeps playing again and again waiting for a Godo that will not appear, that the world has become immune to the Syrian disaster. In comparison, and here you have to forgive me and not think I am cynical or lacking in compassion, a typhoon is an act of nature – I shall not say God. Despite the tragic consequences it leaves behind, it is still free of the predetermined evil that only men can create and perpetrate. It is straightforward. We can all understand it and react to its victims with pure, unsullied human benevolence and pity.
My heart goes to the people of the Philippines and I do pray that the combined efforts of their country and the world will save them, but I cannot but think that typhoons, tornadoes, earthquakes and tidal waves are more merciful than the Syrian army and its Assad.
Writer, researcher, artist