No regard for the inhabitants of Idlib
The struggle between states for control, to establish spheres of influence is the main reason for the ongoing war in the region today. Smaller states and their peoples are undermined by bigger states abandoning their international obligations, ignoring UN resolutions and turning international legitimacy into empty rhetoric. Likewise, they rob of all meaning the concepts of international law, human solidarity and hope for a future free of tyranny, slavery and war.
This analysis is particularly important today, in light of the expected campaign in the province of Idlib, where the Russians, and their proxy, Bashar al-Assad, are looking for any excuse to attack and take control, without regard for the disastrous consequences for the inhabitants of Idlib, or for the neighbouring countries threatened with the arrival of millions of new refugees. Or maybe this is what prompts them.
Meanwhile the extremist groups are gnashing their teeth, believing that Idlib will present the opportunity to inflict a political and psychological defeat, if not also a military one, and thus to redress the balance and to restore strategic credibility. To achieve this "victory", they will use civilians as human shields, either threatening to kill them or making them flee their government adversary.
Terror begets terror
To counter terror and outdo the extremist groups by killing even more civilians is no solution, as we have seen in recent years. Entire cities and governorates were sacrificed in order to force "Daʹesh" and its ilk to move on. Sometimes they were transported in official Russian and non-Russian buses, some of them even air-conditioned, from one governorate to another. In Suweida only this month, they were used to put pressure on the civilian population, by targeting hundreds of civilian casualties.
The war on terror cannot be won by trying to outdo terrorists in the slaughter of civilians. On the contrary, this is what nourishes the terrorist tree and strengthens their ranks. It creates the environment, the source of hatred and the lust for revenge, which they need to justify their heinous deeds.
Terror cannot be fought by using it to address unrelated agendas, such as to put down popular uprisings or the normal protests of the marginalised, those without hope or those fearful of the future. Terror cannot be fought by terrorist means, by turning the state into a gang and its security and military institutions into counter-terrorist militias. To do so undermines the state and deprives it of its legal and moral status, possibly irreversibly; it also leads to the dispossession of millions.