By DAN LEWIS
Developments in Syria have dominated the news cycle for weeks, and for good reason. Unfortunately, many people, including college students, have no idea what is going on over there or in our government involving this issue. Hopefully, this article with clear that up for you!
As you may recall, there was an event in 2011 we now call the Arab Spring. This was when many Middle Eastern citizens rose up in protest of their repressive governments. While the people of Tunisia and Egypt were overthrowing their rulers, Syrian citizens were attempting the same thing. Peaceful protests were met by torturing and killing at the hands of the Syrian regime, escalating the protest into all-out civil war between the government and the people.
Soon, the people had an organized army to counter the government’s army, forcing the Syrian government to destroy whole towns that were affiliated with the rebels. For years now the violence has continued, mostly unnoticed by the US public until the recent accusations of chemical weapons being used by the Syrian government.
Chemical warfare has been looked down upon and outlawed by the United Nations. Very few countries around the world have not accepted the UN law against chemical weapons. Because of this, there has been a global uproar about the Syrian government’s use of chemical weapons on their own people on August 21.
The Syrian government, while not denying the fact that the weapons were used, denies that the government used them on civilians. The UN has deployed weapons inspectors in Syria to uncover the truth. In the meantime, leaders all over the world have either called for action or simply dismissed the allegations.
President Obama, both through his words and actions, has shown his support of a missile attack on the Syrian government’s chemical weapons stockpiles and plants. Unlike his predecessor, George W. Bush, Obama has asked for congressional support before jumping into a foreign situation. Congress is very split on this issue, as the recent 10-7 bipartisan vote by The Senate Foreign Relations Committee authorized the President to use “limited force” against the Syrian government.
The US may have to operate outside of the UN if it does indeed intend to attack Syria. Russia, a longtime ally of Syria and its regime, blocks any anti-Syrian actions from its permanent position on the UN Security Council. Russia’s leader Vladimir Putin has dismissed the charges against Syria in regards to the chemical weapons as “utter nonsense” and has cautioned Obama against fighting violence with more violence. Russia and its leader have even implied their intent to support Syria militarily if it should come to that.
At the recent G20 Summit, both Obama and Putin stuck to their guns on the Syrian dilemma. President Obama acquired the signatures of 11 other countries who agree that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad was responsible for the use of chemical weapons on his own people. These nations were the US, the UK, France, Canada, Italy, Spain, Australia, Turkey, Japan, South Korea, and Saudi Arabia. Germany initially did not sign, but ended up signing the alliance a day later. Russia, China, South Africa, Indonesia, Argentina and Brazil all refused to sign the alliance.
Not only is there tension across the world on this issue, but especially within the Middle East. Syria, if faced with a US or UN attack, may ask for assistance from Iran, Lebanon, Iraq, Jordan, Egypt, or others. Of course, the US is wary of war with any of these nations, particularly Iran, who claims to have nuclear weapons. Syria may also ask one or more of these countries to attack Israel, a longtime ally of the US, as a distraction from their own war.
As tension rises around the world, the US moves closer and closer to a missile strike, finding support in its allies and in many congressmen, while also finding opposition in the form of Russia and its leader.