While a number of images circulating about Madaya have been shown to be fake, there is little doubt that the siege of villages including Madaya by both sides is taking its human toll. All the three villages that are in the news -- Fu`a, Kafrya (under siege by the rebels) and Madaya (under siege by government forces) -- are under siege, as are many others, and suffering the consequences of such long sieges. The siege of Madaya should not stop either food and essential supplies from reaching the villages; people should be allowed to leave if they want to. The UN has said 400 people in Madaya are in serious condition and should be allowed to leave immediately. Both sides must make it happen and not use them as propaganda material.
While the government forces and its allies should allow essential supplies to reach Madaya, the mainstream media needs to focus on who is denying the food from reaching the people in Madaya and who are preventing the people from leaving? And also address various towns and villages in other parts of Syria, where the rebels are the ones who have imposed such sieges on the people.
We reproduce a short comment by Angry Arab (Professor As'ad AbuKhalil, California State University, Stanislaus on this issue.
This passage in an article by Al-Akhbar's Elie Hanna, who was able to reach Madaya yesterday, sums up the situation (these are the words of one old man in the town): "No one can deny cases of hunger and illness in Madaya: "How don't we get hungry when the aid is not being distributed adequately, and the siege exists, and the armed men and merchants control the existing commodities and at their prices, said an old man holding a bag containing bushes for heating".
"لا ينكر أحد حالات الجوع والمرض في مضايا. «كيف لا نجوع والمساعدات لا توزّع بنحو سليم والحصار موجود والمسلحون والتجار يتحكّمون بالبضائع الموجودة وبأسعارها»، يقول عجوز يحمل بيده كيساً فيه بعض الأغصان «للتدفئة»."
So some remarks about Madaya:
1) Yes, there was hunger in Madaya. That can't be denied.
2) Those who are responsible for Madaya: the Syrian regime forces and Hizbullah forces imposing the siege; and the various armed groups in the town who basically confiscate all humanitarian aid and either use it for themselves or sell it at exorbitant high prices.
3) Mocking the hungry in Madya is discpiable: and mocking the suffering of people has become a staple of both sides in Lebanon and in Syria.
4) Of course, international media ignored the suffering of people in Fu`a and Kafrya, and Nubul and Zahra`, because the civilians there are not residing in the "liberated" areas of Syria.
5) The armed groups in Madya and their supporters grotesquely exploited the suffering of the people in Madya either by showcasing little children and elderly and forcing little children to hold political signs and also by adding pictures that are not from Madaya. The propaganda of Syrian armed groups has no respect for truth; it never has.
6) Hizbollah's statement on the matter of Madaya was rather pathetic: it basically used the typical Israeli Zionist line "about how armed groups are hiding behind women and children": even if that is the case, that should not deny aid to the people. On the contrary: it requires more aid. Also, the notion that aid was delivered in November is a silly response: if there is a need for more aid (even if the reason has to do with confiscation by armed rebels) there should be more aid, no matter.
7) Not one side in the ugly Syrian war has clean hands. This is a filthy war which dirties the hands of whoever enters it.
8) Please spare me the fake sympathy of Lebanese March 14 journalists: the March 14 coalition in Lebanon is in charge (through its Minister of Social Affairs, Rashid Dirbas) of handling the Syrian refugees in Lebanon and not one in that camp is protesting the mistreatment and injustices inflicted on Syrian refugees: from blatant racism to imposed curfews on Syrians in Lebanon.