After its titanic civil war, can Syria remain a united state? And if it does – if Syria can be put back together again – how do you repair its people?
These are not idle words when, across the border, the people ofLebanon have again been marking the mournful anniversary of the start of their own civil war in 1975. The dead of Lebanon, like the dead of Syria, have been buried and resurrected by journalists and politicians. At the end of the Lebanese Civil War we reckoned 150,000 had died. Two months ago, a young Beirut activist suddenly came up with a figure of 200,000. What happened to the extra 50,000? And then last month, the figure rose again in a local newspaper to 250,000. What happened to the extra 100,000?
It’s worth remembering these disturbing changes. Syria’s dead simply cannot be calculated. When the UN figure reached 400,000, most of the media went along with it.