Yes to humanitarian aid, no to military intervention
by Yusur Al Bahrani
Speaking at the “Anti-War Teach in – Stop the Cycle of Endless War” was a great opportunity for me as a member of the board of directors at the Canadian Voice of Women for Peace on February 15. The event was hosted by Toronto Coalition to Stop the War. Frankly, I didn’t expect many people to show up. It was one of the coldest days in this winter. And most importantly, it was family day weekend. Those reasons would tentatively lead people to not show up and rather stay in a cozy place with their family members or other loved ones.
But opposing war makes you a member of the peace family. It’s a huge family that welcomes all, and warmth radiates from all corners. The room at United Steelworkers was filled with passionate people eager to find ways to stop war and violence wherever it is –
my talk was dealing with the conflict in Syria and Iraq. Seeing people coming despite the freezing temperatures was a good sign for me: there is hope that we can one day have a peaceful world.
I talked about the conflict in Iraq and Syria, but prior to that I echoed what I have been saying since the beginning of the rise of ISIL, which is now known as the Islamic State. I condemn ISIL that has killed, kidnapped and massacred thousands of innocent people including Muslims. Indeed, the majority of victims have been Muslims themselves. Therefore, it is important to not connect a violent fanatic group with the majority of peaceful Muslims around the world. While condemning such groups is mandatory, understanding how they came to existence is crucial. ISIL didn’t spontaneously grow like mushrooms. Years of violence, conflicts and war led to them being a strong group in the region. And if militarization continues, the situation could deteriorate. For instance, most people in North America became familiar with the name of the group after the cruel beheadings—when ISIL murdered journalists and aid workers. What’s often being ignored is the history of the formation of the group. How did they get their arms and weapons? Where were they trained? Who supported them initially? Who are they? Why are they in Iraq? All of those are questions to be addressed in order to reach to a solution.
More violence does not end violence.
Dividing armed groups into extremists and moderate would drive Syria into a more severe crisis. Training “moderate” armed opposition groups in Syria is not the answer to the problem; it will lead to more destruction with increasing flow of weapons. A killing is a killing, and a beheading is a beheading whether the victim is a woman, a child or a minority, a journalist, an aid worker or even a soldier. Further more intervention in Iraq isn’t the answer either. For the crisis to end in Syria or Iraq, humanitarian aid is needed, not military intervention. Humanitarian aid is needed to help refugees, women and children who have been victims of ISIL or any other group. As we are now facing cold temperatures while being under shelters, let’s not forget refugees who have been forced to leave their homes and are now in tents. Yes to humanitarian aid, no to military intervention.