Turmoil in Syria

On Friday April 13, 2018, President Trump decided to bomb Syria in an attempt to stop the country from using chemical weapons against its civilians. The use of chemical weapons is mandated by Syria’s president, Bashad al-Assad, who directed this warfare against civilians a week prior to the U.S.’s bombing. Al-Assad’s chemical weapons killed at least 42 adults and children (Ward).

According to President Trump, the United States intervened in an attempt to ameliorate Syria’s storage units, equipment centers, and research facilities related to chemical weaponry. The objective here is to stop Syria from creating, possessing, and then using these prohibited agents, especially against its own citizens. But why would al-Assad want to use chemical weapons against his country’s own citizens? Let’s take a trip down Syria’s unfortunate past of political turmoil to find out.

Over the course of several decades, Syria underwent a period of under strict political regime, got a glimpse of freedom and independence, and went back to being under a strict political regime again, except with the involvement of an authoritarian government the second time around. When Syria and other countries of the Middle East disbanded from the Ottoman Empire in 1922, they became allied powers split up among Britain and France.

These countries were not yet the separate nations as we know today, but were a step away from being one broad nation under the Ottoman Empire.

Nonetheless, Syria and other nations of the Middle East were under Western rule until the 1950s when secular strongmen came to power and outlawed the Muslim parties making up many governments of the Middle East. With this new law, Syria and other countries of the Middle East were finally granted independence from Britain and France with the rise of pan-Arabism. Syria was able to establish itself as separate from other nations of the Middle East, and the country was excited to not be under stringent Western control any longer.

But Syria’s optimistic political mindset did not last- Syria became under rule by repressive leader Bashad al-Assad. Al-Assad’s beliefs clashed with his people’s, which resulted in a citizen uprising through the Arab Spring in 2011. The Arab Spring was a movement beginning in late 2010 that concentrated in the Middle East involving citizens peacefully protesting against their respective countries’ repressive dictators initially, but soon against corrupt governments in the region as a whole. Syrians employed peaceful protests against Assad’s regime, who responded with violence in the form of chemical warfare. As a result, Syrians became radicalized, which delved into the Syrian Civil War in March 2011.

The emergence of ISIS in Syria during the Syrian Civil War prompted the United States’ interventions in Syria. ISIS caused the U.S. to reconsider their original motive of eliminating Assad. While the United States debated declaring war against Syria, Assad destroyed his country through the systematic use of chemical weapons and irregular tactics in an attempt to get his people to side with the government.

When the Syrian Civil War began, Syria had a population of 20 million people. Since the Syrian Civil War began, over ¼ of Syria’s population has fled the country. Over 6 million Syrian citizens have been forced to leave, and over 250,000 Syrians have been killed since the war’s start in 2011. Millions of individuals that have fled Syria are currently living in tents in the middle of the desert.

The current conditions in Syria are extremely tumultuous and lethal. Millions of Syrians still inside of the country are living in uninhabitable conditions. Bombings occur on a daily basis, and when aid is provided, the government often sends military personnel to destroy it.

Considering what Syria’s past has consisted of, I do not think it was necessary for Trump to bomb Syria. The country is already undergoing significant damage from its government alone; it does not need additional lethality imposed upon it by the United States. Even though Trump is trying to eliminate Syria’s chemical weapons that it is using against its own people, I do not think that employing bombs was the route to take. Syria has an existing turbulent relationship with the West due to once being under French control, so the United States’ intervention is only furthering that extent of political unrest. Millions of refugees have fled from existing Syrian conditions and are left to live in dry, hot deserts that are not ideal living conditions in the slightest.

––Sydney McFadden

Source: https://www.vox.com/2018/4/14/17237854/syria-bombing-trump-russia-chemical-weapons