Spanish Civil War took its toll on humanity between 1936 and 1939. Both “Republican” loyalists and the “Conservative” rebels committed and suffered atrocities (brackets are used to express the context dependency of the terms since both sides were coalitions consisting of different groups with different ideological premises).
Both sides were backed up financially and militarily by other powers in the World: the loyalists received aid from Soviet Russia and Mexico, while volunteers from all over the world joined the loyalist ranks as independent or as soldiers of International Brigades. The rebels on the other hand were supported by some other dictatorships in Europe such as Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy. The infighting between rival loyalist groups (it was 1930’s and Stalin was being Stalin…) brought more carnage to already large pool of blood. By the time the war ended the enough damage was done to its people as many perished in battles, murdered for the sake of politics, and fall victim to atrocities against civilians. A fascist dictatorship emerged out of the ashes of the Second Spanish Republic and suppressed democracy in the country for the next couple of decades.
The war itself could be considered as a prelude to the series of events entitled “Second World War”. The equipment, tactics and the experience would be carried to battlefields around the world. The resolve of international community which was not responding to the crises and doing nothing to end human misery persisted as the spirit of the international politics. It took couple of genocides and nuclear bombings to rethink our mode of “realpolitik”.
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Syrian Civil War has been taking place in Syrian soil since Spring 2011, and it has spilled beyond borders of war-torn country since. Demonstrations that began during the “Arab Spring” soon turned into a bloodbath and Syria became a battlefield between the government forces of Bashar Al-Assad and the rebels from different political camps. Syrian people who found themselves in crossfire took refuge in neighboring countries and overseas. The response from international community was mixed. West did not seem interested in an armed intervention in conflict, unlike Libya. The morale and logistic (albeit not limited to) support came from Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and many other countries to the rebel side. On the other hand, the Syrian regime is backed by Russian and Iranian aid. The opposition proved to be ineffective to topple the government forces as expected by the international creditors of the rebels. Soon the clash of the two sides became prominent and humanitarian cost continued rising.
Thus far, various ceasefire deal failed to end the carnage. United Nations plan developed in 2012 was abandoned due to different positions taken by the permanent members of the UN Security Council, namely Russia and China versus the Western countries. Meanwhile, frequent attacks by both sides continued to harm the social fabric and cultural heritage of Syria. Alleged use of chemical weapons by both sides, were accompanied by increasing radicalization of strategies and actions. Horrific images of brutalized people regularly filled Youtube and other social media. The propaganda war to win support in global public soon exposed delirium of civil war: “Hearteaters”, rebel warlords ambushing each other, cross border attacks on civilians and more.
A widespread idea in historiography is that “History repeats itself”. We have this conception only because history classes are not as interesting as they should be. Spanish Civil War was part of a series of events that could not be stopped by the international community of the day and ended in immense human suffering. Today we face another civil war that is burning the middle east and the contemporary international community is not vigorous enough to stop destruction. International institutions are fatally attracted to political maneuvers of various powers of the world and the system itself is not producing peace but sustaining conflict. History does not (and should not) repeat itself, humanity keeps making similar mistakes.