Syrians in the Darkness

“The seasons are according to the sun. The people of Syria now, they don’t see any sun. They are in the darkness.”                                    

–Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, February 2014

I’ve had the quote from Ahmet Davutoglu tucked away in my notes since last year, and had forgotten about until I saw the above image in an article in The Guardian earlier this month. It shows a series of satellite images of Syria at night from 2011 to 2015. The article reveals that there has been an estimated 80% reduction in night-time illumination of Syria over the past few years, correlating with the destruction of infrastructure and the enormous loss of population from people fleeing their homes. To date, an estimated 10.8 million people have been displaced as a result from the conflict. Davutoglu was correct, literally and figuratively. I can’t help but wonder how these events will affect ordinary Syrians for decades to come. 


Related: Growing Up in the Two Koreas

2 thoughts on “Syrians in the Darkness

  1. I can’t help but wonder how these events will affect ordinary Syrians for decades to come.

    Joshua Landis has suggested that what is going on in Syria may be analogous to what happened in Eastern Europe during and immediately after WWII:

    I believe that the best historical European comparison to what is taking place in the Middle East today is Eastern Europe, which was multi-ethnic and multi-religious. Much of it was part of dynastic empires, much like the Levant: a multi-religious/ethnic part of the Ottoman Empire. Perhaps the single greatest outcome of WWII in Europe was the creation of nation states that were more ethnically homogeneous than ever before. LINK

    • I’m not sure. I just don’t know enough about the various factions involved. One recent paper claimed that an intense drought (probably related to climate change) created demographic pressures, and that this helped lead to conflict. It wouldn’t be the only factor, but perhaps a critical ingredient in the stew.

      My concern is the gut-wrenching devastation to the infrastructure — as seen in the lack of lights — and the way this will affect ordinary Syrians for decades. Even if peace broke out tomorrow, I can’t see life returning to normal for a very, very long time. And, from what we know from several studies of war and health, people will be scarred.

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