SYRIA // When we say 'Stop the Bleeding,' we mean:
In the years following 1916’s Sykes-Picot agreement between Britain and France (when the West carved boundary lines into the Middle East), the Arab world faced a dire need of a unified identity. When a handful of states formed the Arab League in 1945, Syria was, of course, a founding member.
The cultural, religious, and historic significance of Damascus has long been acknowledged as central to Arab identity; it came as no surprise, then, when as the League first forged a new political alliance to combat Western influence and regional ambitions, League President Abdel Nasser identified Syria as the “beating heart of the Arab world.” What mattered for Syria then mattered to the Arab world as a whole.
All of these things matter still—but what may have been beating then is bleeding now.
Imagine the shame when, as the region reeled from the early violence of the Arab Spring and the unique, unprecedented, rapid deterioration of Bashar al-Assad’s Syria, the League suspended the membership of this darling founding state in January 2012. Assad stood incredulously before his isolating neighbors and asked them a question at once perhaps both a confrontation and a curse:
“Can a body live without a heart?”
Syria was reinstated to the League in March 2017, making its five-year suspension from holding an official regional voice something of a hiccup in a history marred by conflict and coups, but Bashar’s question still echoes through the chambers of Syria and the region. The jury is still out on Syria’s future and survival. If and when the current conflict ends, it will take a lifetime or more to rebuild the damage caused by nearly a decade of unrelenting and merciless carnage.
What will it mean for the Arab world that her beating heart has hemhorraged for so long?
The Arab Spring and Syrian Civil War have uniquely confronted us with how we will respond to unprecedented suffering—the kind pulled from the realm of impossibility into real life and real time.
So what do we do?
Let the last word over Syria be the living, breathing witness of the King who bled to finally—and fully—stop the bleeding.
 SANA, ‘President al-Assad: It Is No Longer Possible for the Regional and International Parties Seeking to Destabilize Syria to Forge Facts and the Events,’ January 2012.