By Abir Bassam

The fires of Belad al-Sham: Attacks on nutrition supplies

October 14, 2020 - 20:16

Last week was one of the worst weeks the area of Belad Al-Sham has witnessed. The fires spread all over the Belad Al-Sham coast, i.e., the Syrian coast from Latakia to Palestine. The victims were mainly the forest trees and, in particular, the aging Oak trees, the olive trees, and other fruit trees. However, the targeted injured party was the farmer, who is still holding on to his land and his means of survival.   

In Syria, the fires caught two kinds of forests, the natural forests which were burning last week, and the afforestation, which was gardened on a large scale in the late 70s and early 80s of the last century. The virgin forest was heavily damaged last week, while the forestation was damaged heavily last month in Al- Ghab Plain around the Orontes River. The two major fires have destroyed a large number of fruit trees.

Unfortunately, the fires did not stop there. It had spread as well in Lebanon from its north to its south. The fires caught the olive trees in Palestine as well. The targeted trees made it impossible not to think that the fires all over Belad Al-Sham coast were accidental.

It is true that the weather has played an important role in the spreading of fires, but what remains to be a dilemma is what started the fires in the first place. The accumulation of the small number of fires has started by diverse small fires that went out of control. And the result was catastrophic. 

However, according to the Syrian scientist, Dr. Riyadh Karah Falah, four out of one hundred of the forest fires happen naturally. He elucidated that most fires start at night when humid and atmospheric pressure is higher than the daytime. Once the fire is on at dawn, the sun's rise will do the rest because the weather will become drier and atmospheric pressure will become lower, and the dry eastern wind that prevailed during the last three days of fire will take care of the rest. 

Accordingly, the Syrian scientist assures that natural resources caused not all the latest fires. Whatever the reason was, there is also a local factor contributing to the spread of fire. It is related to neglecting the rural and the virgin land of the woods. The grass becomes very dry at the end of every summer, and if the land was not weeded and plowed, the dry grass becomes a source of danger to the trees. 

However, as mentioned, only 4% of the forest fires are natural this season. Others have been intentionally or unintentionally initiated. Whether it was done by a farmer error who wants to dispose of the remaining of the dry weeds or by a terrorist who intentionally lit the forest, the result was huge damage for both woods and fruit trees.

This year, in particular, there are different scenarios. In Syria, the fires started in June, which were initiated by the Americans airplanes, the Turks, and Syrian Democratic Forces [SDF], who lit the wheat plains in the Al-Jazeera area in the east-north of Syrian, which is occupied by the USA and the Turkish armies. The fires started as a punishment to the farmers because they refused to sell their crops to anyone other than the Syrian government. 

The second phase of fires was a month ago. This phase of the fire has raised the question about the message behind these deliberate actions since the previous fires targeted the nutritious Syrian supplies, in addition, to its green surrounding. 

In Lebanon, the fires spread for three days as well before it was controlled; unfortunately, the flames engulfed a large number of olive trees and large numbers of the forest trees, which need years to be restored. The fires spread all over the coastal and inner areas, which surprisingly were the main olive source to Lebanon. The fire spread to Nabatieh district in the east-south of Lebanon. Its attack reached Akkar in the north, and in Safinat Al-Kateea, the fire engulfed 2.4- 3 million square meters amongst them 10s of thousands of square meters of olive trees, which were not harvested yet, in addition to the hundreds of hives that were totally destroyed. 

It is necessary to pay attention that the fires in the south of Lebanon were initiated several times by the fires caught from the Palestinian side. It was caused many times by flare bombs fired by the Israelis or by the flames ignited on the Palestinian side and spread to the south because of the seasonal eastern dry winds. 

In Palestine, the fires caught the aging olive trees in the north of Palestine and the West Bank. In addition, the Israeli prevented the farmers from reaching their olive groves to save them. 

The heavy attack on the Syrian and Lebanese seasonal crops can't be taken into granted. It has intentional goals to deprive the population of its living resources. The olive oil is considered to be the main yearly economic supporter for its owners. It can send their kids to schools, buy their yearly supplies of clothes, houseware, etc.   

Accordingly, the spread of fire might be attributed to vandalism. The Syrian government has caught four people until today, and they were accused of starting fires. Many terrorist and anti-government groups on social media are praising the act of starting forest fires as a means to defeat the regime.   

Some might criticize considering the fire spread as a part of a conspiracy against Belad Al-Sham. However, starting the fires is definitely related to an agenda set to inflame the region again. Since it was clear that Cesar's Law may affect foreign currency flow to Syria, it was proved that it would not be as efficient as the Americans thought it to be. It did not carry much effect on Syria and its economic relations with its supporting allies and friends. 

On the other hand, there are major variables that are taking place in the region. They are of great importance to both the Israelis and the Americans. Such a siege on the people and in particular their nutrition supplies might push into a disorder that strengthens the force against the Lebanese and the Syrians to adapt to the American demands. These major variables are:
1-     The normalization and peace agreements with the United Arab Emirates and Al-Bahrain
2-     The demarcation of the border between Lebanon and Palestine
3-     The coming Syrian presidential elections in March 2021 in Syria
4-     And internationally, the coming elections in the USA. 
Therefore, it has become clear that after ten years of war on Syria, the aim was to establish and empower regimes that would rush to implement peace agreements with Israel. However, this aim was not achieved. U.S. President Donald Trump was hoping to reach the first two variables because it might lead to achieving the targeted aims: the security and the safety of Israel, which can drive as a crane to win the elections.

The ongoing siege on Syria and Lebanon to trap the national resistance against Israel, i.e., President Bashar Al-Assad in Syria and Hezbollah and his allies in Lebanon and the fall of the value of the Lebanese and Syrian lira were not sufficient enough to drive the supporters of the resistance movement against their leaders. Therefore, the exclusive spread of fire is not to be taken vaguely. It is part of an attempt to starve both: the Lebanese and the Syrians. It is an attempt to put pressure on people by famishing them and their families to push towards a change of governments or make compromises.


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