THE BLOG

Has the World Grown Weary of Syria?

On this, the second anniversary of the start of the Syrian uprising, perhaps no word summarizes the world's mood as well as this one: weary.

Weary are the Syrian soldiers and rebels; the various international negotiators seeking a conclusion that seems nowhere in sight; the more than a million refugees and the countries that host them. Russia and China are surely weary of United Nations sanctions resolutions; Western powers are weary of their vetoes.

For the rest of us, Syria story fatigue has settled in. The daily gruesome news comes in, but it no longer has the same poignant impact it once had.

Many people say they no longer follow the events as they used to.

"The failure to topple the regime has surely made the whole story less appealing and more complicated," said Rima Majed, a political sociologist, who has been following the Syria story from Beirut. " It has become too monotonous," added Rida Mawla, a Lebanese financial consultant, "I'm not hooked on the story anymore."

Even journalists like me, who have reported on the uprising for two years now, struggle in trying to keep an interest in a story we know is too important to forget.

If the U.S. administration has decided to lead Syria from behind, we as journalists have unfortunately followed the same course. We have had limited access to Syria and we have been often confined to our desks and to secondary accounts collected from Skype to make a story. But that alone doesn't justify the lack of fresh angles.

Syria has been covered in a repetitive and overly simplistic way. There is a daily, heavy diet of gunfire, dead bodies and pitiful refugees.

Watch Al Jazeera Arabic for a day and notice the reporting of casualty numbers every two or three hours -- numbers that not only are not independently verifiable, but that, when repeated day after day, hour after hour, make the casualty count seem almost banal.

Some international newspapers require their local reporters, who are usually based outside Syria, to come up with a story every day, regardless of whether there's news or a fresh angle. Often, these stories look like a patchwork quilts -- bits and pieces of violent tales, stitched together without a real storyline.

Human-focused stories about the war are a rarity; the story of Palestinian doctors taking care of both wounded government soldiers and rebel fighters, or the stories of young pro-Assad men who refuse to kill their brothers and flee the country to avoid mandatory military service.

And perhaps there is too much coverage of refugees -- at least too much that focuses on suffering, deprivation, lack of aid, and too little on their prospects in exile, including the ugly stories of how desperation has led some parents to forcefully marry off their young daughters to raise money for survival.

There is also a severe shortage of nuanced, explanatory reporting, the kind that unravels the complicated politics of Syria and its neighbors. The western media, in its attempt to simplify a complicated story, ended up oversimplifying it. News outlets referred to the Syrian National Council for too long as the Syrian opposition, making it sound as if it were the only opposition; though the opposition spectrum was much more diverse and complicated. There is also very little context given to the internal opposition in Syria: what do they really want, who supports them and what constructive role they could play in Syria.

We have inflated the Islamist monster, focused too much on Jihadi groups without giving much context. There is an obsession with Jabhat Al Nusra and yet we don't really know much about who they are, what they want or why the Syrians would welcome them.

Why did we forget about the secular groups that are still fighting for freedom in Syria?

This oversimplification deepens the crisis and adds to the paralysis. We have a responsibility to keep reporting on Syria but we also have a responsibility to deconstruct a complex story and explain it well, so that bridges can be built between the different sides. We have a moral obligation to keep the world interested in Syria, so that it is not forgotten.

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