Destructions following an airstrike in the jihadist-held city of Idlib, northwestern Syria. Russian air strikes killed at least 13 civilians, including six children, on March 14 in Idlib province, in the first such raids since a September truce deal, a monitor said. Image Credit: AFP

For eight years now we have lived with the unfolding of tragic events in Syria, a nation so broken by the tumultuous events there, a civil war that has changed the Middle East and reclassified the international order. Eight years ago, thousands of Syrians took to the streets in protest at the government of President Bashar Al Assad, seeking better conditions. And yet the chain of events unleashed by those acts of protest still endure and have caused political and social convulsions across the Middle East and into Europe.

What was then a nation of 22 million has been broken, millions of its people dispersed in various corners of the globe. Within its own bruised boundaries, some ten million were displaced and only now are beginning to take the first tenuous steps to return to their villages, homes and cities.

Syrians today grieve the loss of half a million of their own who died in the conflict, crushed under buildings, victims of barrel bombs, shot by snipers, succumbed to illness or injury, or gassed as they cowered in what was left of their homes. They are left too with the scars of a conflict that has injured 2 million more and changed their national psyche forever.

Eight years on, Al Assad remains in power, his grip reinforced by the might of Russian air power or the religious fanatics who took up Iranian arms in the ranks of Hezbollah. And eight years on there are still forces that oppose his rule, still intent on pushing for those greater freedoms sought in the earliest days of this bloody war.

What was once a strong voice in the Arab world is now in sad smithereens, a place that provided an opportunity for Daesh to try and carve out a caliphate, where there is barely a family unscathed by the brutality unleashed and unfettered to this day.

The past eight years have shown the Arab world what happens when an ally implodes and convulses in the hell of hatred. It is a conflict that has placed a heavy burden on Lebanon and Jordan in dealing with the millions of displaced who left everything behind, and it is a conflict that put the issue of Palestine onto the back burner.

Every Arab longs for the dawn to break when Syria will regain its place at the table, where the dispersed can indeed return home, and where peace will truly be with its people.