So this is what the world has come to. Some in the global media are apparently anticipating the death of a seven-year-old Syrian girl, Bana Alabed, who has been trapped in eastern Aleppo practically all of her life. While they could not say it out-loud, there is a palpable sense of excitement in some media quarters. There is a need to save Bana, instead of salivating over a potentially big cover story. But who is Bana? What's her story?
— Bana Alabed (@AlabedBana) September 26, 2016
Bana took the Twitter by storm early this year by posting about her daily trials and tribulations. By using the good offices of her mother, Fatemah, she talked about things that other seven-year-old children talk about: the pressures of meeting their homework deadlines; whining about siblings or classmates; and sharing their fears and dreams. Except for Bana, the fears are not some far-fetched imaginations of the untrained mind. She is living under the constant barrage of bombs, dropped by Russian fighter jets and the Syrian-Iranian nexus of barrel-bombing helicopters. Earlier, she lived in a constant fear of getting incinerated if she dared venture outside her home. Now the home is gone and she is running for her life. And this has apparently sparked a not-so-subtle yearning for a meaty headline among some quarters in the news media.
Bana's tragedy was taken up by the global media as a perfect analogy for the Syrian crisis. A sweet little girl with a bright mind who was eager to tell the world about her troubles -- and that of her fellow Syrians. She got her fifteen minutes of fame and then was relegated to a fixture that could be paraded around occasionally to highlight the plight of Syrians. Nicholas Kristof of The New York Times was one of the few high-profile opinion-makers who actually tried to reach out to her. He pleaded with the Obama administration to follow up on its long-forgotten promise of protecting the Syrian people. President Obama's red line, which later became more of a sinister joke, has been crossed numerous times and, lately, with his tacit approval. Kristof's pleas fell on deaf ears. His approaching the Al-Abed family, however, discredited those who were even questioning her existence.
We have no home now. I got minor injury. I didn't sleep since yesterday, I am hungry. I want to live, I don't want to die. - Bana #Aleppo
— Bana Alabed (@AlabedBana) November 28, 2016
Bana is homeless now and running for the ever-elusive shelter. She may be able to get to safety. She might also become another number in the ever mounting death toll, already nearing a half million casualties. Even if she survives -- and thus ripping the global media of a great cover story -- many others like her will perish. Thousands of children have already lost their lives during the last five years, overwhelmingly at the hands of the Syrian-Iranian nexus, and, lately by the ruthless Russian bombers.
The European Union, which became a direct victim of the Syrian crisis, could have been a savior. Brexit and internal fissures have doomed its capabilities. In other words, the EU has the military means to protect civilians in Syria but lacks the political will. The irony lies in the fact that more refugees are expected to pour into the continent once the evil nexus gets full control of Aleppo in the coming weeks.
The responsibility to protect the civilians has now fallen on ordinary citizens of a globally connected planet. They can play their part by bringing the perpetrators to task, who have committed some of the gravest atrocities in recent history. There should be a public opposition to the Iran deal, as the blood-thirsty regime has been allowed to get a free pass. One should not overlook the continuing atrocities in Iraq either as the Iran-backed Shiite militias are ramping up their time-tested brutality game. It's the return of the vicious circle in which a new ISIS-like outfit could emerge, riding on the wave of pervasive discrimination, legitimization of reprisals and a continued sense of deep disenfranchisement. There is a need to address these grim realities before expecting a victory against ISIS.
In the meanwhile, the ratings-hungry media should leave Bana alone. Why not taking the higher ups to task for a change? Especially those who have broken many promises. The Obama administration, for one, has been let off the hook on the Syrian crisis. The man received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2009 and the global peace has been in a perpetual disarray ever since. It is about time to rescind that honor as the Obama doctrine has only engendered violence and has empowered some of the biggest violators of human rights.
Bana Alabed should not die. She needs to live and prosper.