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Does the Arc of History Bend Toward Idlib?
Displaced Syrians walk on the road at village of Atmeh which hosts nearly 2 million displaced Syrians on February 20, 2020 in Idlib, Syria.
Photo by Burak Kara/Getty Images

Does the Arc of History Bend Toward Idlib?

Walter Russell Mead

The long and bitter Syrian civil war has shifted into an ugly new stage: the brutal repression of the remaining rebel-controlled areas in Syria’s northwestern provinces of Idlib and neighboring Aleppo. About four million people huddle in desperate conditions as Syrian government forces and their Russian allies prepare the final, bloody push.

Turkey, which has already absorbed nearly four million Syrian refugees, has closed its borders against the final surge. Heart-rending pictures of families and small children seeking shelter in freezing temperatures, or crowded against the Turkish border fortifications, fill the world’s newspapers.

These pictures, though, have largely lost their power to shock. Nearly nine years of civil war, each bringing greater atrocities and worse horrors than the last, have deadened the world’s conscience. European nations are more concerned with blocking new refugee flows than helping desperate Syrians find a haven. The political controversy in the U.S. over the Trump administration’s strict limits on refugees has largely faded. With more than 400,000 dead, 5.6 million international refugees, and 6.2 million people displaced within its borders, Syria has exhausted the world’s compassion.

Read the full article in the Wall Street Journal.

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