It goes without saying that Syrians want Daesh (the Arabic name for the self-proclaimed Islamic State, or IS) out of their country. After all, it is responsible not only for scores of massacres, but also for adding an episode of terrorism to a peaceful, noble uprising.
Nevertheless, the US-led campaign against Daesh was met with a mix of bewilderment and suspicion. On one hand, the Syrian people want to get rid of the group regardless of the consequences, while on the other, they consider this intervention to be an assault on their country. This dilemma manifests itself in various viewpoints and artworks.
“This military campaign, like any other, is surely not in the best interest of Syrians and Syria. If the world really wanted to help us, things would not have gone this far,” artist Hani Abbas says to SyriaUntold.
Many Syrians share the same resentment expressed by Abbas, especially while the Assad regime continues to drop missiles and barrel bombs. “The regime bombed us, the opposition battalions bombed us, America bombed us, Israel bombed us, and now 60 countries have agreed to bombs us. We are the bombarded Syrians,” author Susan Khawatimi said.
“Instead of launching a military campaign, maybe you could help the 5 million Syrians who are starving in refugee camps. I think they are more worthy of your money than a bunch of extremists!” artist Yara Issa added.
The ambiguity of the US-Arab coalition's goals has led many Syrians to deem it fake and dubious. “I believe this campaign serves as a vapid goodwill gesture,” artist Khaled Malek says.“It helps the international community save face at the expense of civilian lives in Syria.” Malek demonstrates this point of view in an artwork of two children running away from an airstrike, one of them asking: Is this Syrian or American air force?
Others however, have gone even further to claim that the only beneficiary of this intervention is the Assad regime. “While Coalition airstrikes target Syrian cities under the pretext of fighting terrorism, the Syrian Air Force is also roaming freely, dropping bombs and committing massacres. So, where is the interest of Syrians in all of this?!” Artist Mustafa Yaaqoub bitterly asks.
The anger expressed by these Syrian intellectuals stems from the narrow mandate of the military intervention. “Ever since the US declared war on Daesh, countries of the Arab region mobilized to intervene in Syria,” Yaaqoub highlights. “It's ironic given the fact that after more than three years of bloodshed and two hundred thousand martyrs, they have done absolutely nothing to stop Assad.” The artist depicted this hypocrisy by painting the American flag with the red and white colors of the Arab kuffiya.
The best summary of this issue may be the one coming from the town of Kafranbel. In their latest weekly banner, the town dedicated their voice to the hypocrisy of the international stands on Syria:
“Assad is the source of the region's terrorism. You are fighting his products and ignoring the producer.”