Turmoil keeps plaguing Arab nations

A displaced Syrian woman walks at a temporary camp in the northern Syrian village of Ain Issa, where many people who fled the ISIL stronghold of Raqqa are taking shelter. Delil Souleiman / AFP
A displaced Syrian woman walks at a temporary camp in the northern Syrian village of Ain Issa, where many people who fled the ISIL stronghold of Raqqa are taking shelter. Delil Souleiman / AFP

Not much has changed for war-ravaged populations in the region since last Eid. In fact, what was already a desperate humanitarian situation in some parts of the region has got worse since last year, as aid agencies struggle under the pressure of it all and an ever-growing web of conflicting interests becomes more complex by the day.

Thousands of civilians have been killed in Iraq since ISIL established its so-called caliphate in June 2014. In fact, the grim statistics suggest that an average of 1,300 civilians have been killed every month since that dreadful moment, according to Iraq Body Count, an organisation that has tracked the mounting toll of civilian deaths since the ill-conceived US-led invasion of 2003. The battle to retake Mosul has led to the displacement of more than half a million civilians fleeing ISIL’s vengeful grip. That the extremist group now occupies a tiny parcel of territory in the old city is small comfort. Most observers are painfully aware that the hardest work in Mosul will begin once the last extremist has been removed. Removing extremists is one thing, beating extremism is another.

The years-long Syrian civil war has left most parts of the country destroyed and has led to the internal displacement or exodus of almost half of the nation’s population. Civilians have borne the brunt of the twin cruelties of ISIL’s sporadic grip and Bashar Al Assad’s wrong-headed and vengeful leadership styles. Pro-rebel civilians and rebels have routinely found themselves trapped in areas under the grip of the Assad regime, perpetuating so-called population exchange crises as aid workers continue to pay the price for relentless regime-backed bombardment.

The humanitarian crisis in Yemen has worsened over the past year. Millions face famine as food supplies fall short. Millions more have been displaced.

Libya’s civil war, meanwhile, continues to mutate into an impossible conflict. The country spent years under the bitter and horrid rule of the Qaddafi family only to be torn asunder by clashes that appear to have no end. Multiple factions, groups and governments jostle for supremacy as hopes for peace appear to shrink.

The crisis with Qatar shows no signs of subsiding thanks to its insistence on being a rogue force opposed to regional unity. Its actions may leave the bloc with no choice but to sever ties with their neighbour, changing the character of the GCC.

Indeed, for millions, there is little cause for celebration except, perhaps, the hope that next year will be better. ​

Published: June 25, 2017 04:00 AM

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