By MARYANN RAFKA, Copy Editor
Lately, the word on everyone’s mouth is “Syria.” Ever since the Arab Spring hit the Middle Eastern country of March of 2011, the country’s stability has gone downhill. The death has hit 100,000 and is quickly rising. As of recently, the accusation of chemical weapon use by the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on his people has led to an international outcry. The United States government has taken the lead, with President Barack Obama stating that military action needs to be taken against the Assad regime to stop the use of chemical weapons.
Within the U.S., the public is split, with most people being against military action in Syria. Fear of another Iraq and Afghanistan has lead many people to oppose President Obama’s ideas about military involvement. Even within Congress, many of our senators and representatives are against military use in another Middle Eastern country. While the State Department and the president’s staff have tried to cite evidence, including videos, of chemical use by the Assad regime against their own people, many people are still not convinced. The Obama administration has been working tirelessly to gain national and international support.
I, on the other hand, am one person they cannot sway. As a native Syrian, I am reluctant to support any foreign military action in my home country. While I do believe that the conflict in Syria has lasted far too long and something needs to be done to stop the killing of innocent people, I understand the repercussions of military action.
Let’s have some historical context. The Assad regime has historically been made up of minority Alowites, with the majority Shi’a population often been left at the wayside. The next largest religious group is the Christian, who have, from personal experience and observation, been treated better in Syria than most other Middle Eastern countries. As a member of the Syrian Christian population, the Assad regime has been great, allotting us vacation days for holidays, allowing us to freely practice and express our religion. The tension has been between the Shi’a majority and Alowite minority, while the Christians have often accepted what they’ve been given.
When the Arab Spring spread to Syria, groups of professions, intellectuals, rich, and educated people took to the streets, demanding the end of government corruption. That was the main problem in Syria: government corruption. The son of an army general can spit in your face and graduate college without doing any work, while others are left struggling for pretty much everything. President as-Assad conceded to many of the demands made on him, even firing government officials who have been corrupt. That’s when the peaceful ended. Rebels, armed and dangerous, started taking to the streets, demanding the end of the Assad era. The problem? Many of these people are non-Syrians. They are foreigners, coming from such countries as Saudi Arabia and armed by foreigners.
An estimated 80 percent of the “rebels” are non-Syrian. All they want is the end of the Assad regime. Violence began, and the government fought violence with violence. The result? What we have today: chaos. And no one is safe. Rebels, who claim to want liberation in Syria, are even more ruthless than the government. They stop people on the streets and check their state IDs. The IDs state a person’s religion, and if the person is anything other than a Shi’a, they are beaten or killed. Leaked videos of rebels torturing everyday citizens have shocked the international world, including a video of a rebel eating the heart of an Alowite man he had just killed. The Assad regime, though not perfect and extremely violent, has tried to protect its citizens from this brutality.
The rebels also have another motive: religion. The rebels are Islamic extremists who plan on turning Syria into an Islamic regime, much like Saudi Arabia. This would be devastating for Muslim moderates, Christians, intellectuals, and women.
So, what’s the solution? Honestly, I don’t know. I just know that U.S. involvement in Syria against the Assad regime would arm the brutal and extremist rebels, and Syria – a country that has worked to become moderate and open – would lose all of its progress. Whatever the outcome, no one wins.
The U.S. needs to understand that any kind of action would be bad action. The Syrians need to fix their problems. The Assad government is working to protect Syria from the rebels, while foreign nations have been working to dismantle the Syrian government. They have succeeded in one way: causing instability. The only way out of this problem is to regain stability in Syria by kicking out foreigners and letting the Syrians decide what’s best for Syria.