Although everyone has been talking about Syria, not everyone knows what’s going on. People often make the mistake of nodding their head when they are unsure of conversations regarding foreign affairs, rather than inquiring upon specificities. If you do this, you are not alone, I too am subject to fault from time to time. Still, it’s important to be aware of some of the biggest decisions congress and the president are having to face, and to understand why people are so torn. So let’s start from the beginning. Since 2011 Syria has been divided by a civil war. The two sides are the government and it’s civilian supporters who are mostly part of Al-Queda extremist groups and the civilians. The tension first began when the government imprisoned, and reportedly tortured, fifteen students who were spraying anti-government graffiti on a wall. Protesters began to congregate to show their support for the students. The government felt threatened and opened fire on these peaceful protesters, four were killed.
Word began to spread to other parts of the country and many others who were enraged rose up out of the shadows. The cause had become much bigger than the school boys. The cause became a cry for freedom and a call for president Bashar al-Assad to step down. The civilians protesting did not get what they wanted, in fact it was the exact opposite. al-Assad refused to step down and for the past two years the civil war has pinned muslim extremists and the regime against the rebels wishing for democracy.
Syria has been on everyone’s radar but only recently did leading countries turn their immediate attention towards them because of chemical warfare attacks the government used against it’s own people. In April of 1997 the United Nations got together to create an official ban against chemical warfare because the side effects are so inhumane and gruesome. Syria broke said treaty and killed about 1500 innocent people. Since the start of the war over four million have relocated internationally to refugee camps like Jordan and the death toll is now over 110,000 including both sides.
Now the question is, what role does the United States play in this? As big brother of the world do we send humanitarian aid? troops? missile strikes? what about arming the rebels? Is it our obligation to step in at all? None of these solutions are wholly correct. With all of them come big problems.
Most recently, President Obama spoke with Russian diplomats who proposed to cancel tenuous plans of missile strikes and instead let international monitors eradicate Syria of it’s chemical weaponry. The plan is not without flaw. First, all members must comply. There’s no guarantee that al-Assad will go along with this plan. And if he does it will take years to safely export the weapons and even so, there will never be a way to ensure that all weapons have been evacuated. Of course even if success works itself out with this deal, the violence could certainly continue.