A Word for Syria

Maggie Odier

Nearly everyone around the world has heard the word Syria mentioned in the past two years. Maybe you have heard it said with a worried tone, with a sad tone, or even with a confused tone. While most people have heard of the civil war that started in 2011 between the Bashar al-Assad’s Syrian Government and a coalition of rebels, few know the dirty details. For the past two years, there has been fighting in the streets between the freedom-seeking rebels and the government that wishes to stay in power. But on August 21, everything changed with the chemical weapons attack on multiple residential neighborhoods of the opposing forces.

With over 355 deaths and thousands more injured, this attack has been labeled a crime against humanity. There are over 100 videos of those affected by the poisonous gas, identified as the nerve agent sarin. Most nerve agents, including sarin, are not lethal in small doses, although they do affect those exposed, causing them to feel extreme fatigue and making it very difficult to breathe. However, in large doses, like those used in the attack, sarin inhibits brain function, degrades the immune system, and damages multiple organs, making death very possible if not probable, according to The World Outline.

The attack is widely believed to have been executed by Assad’s government, but this is not universally accepted. Like many other nations, the United States do not want to “turn a blind eye” to these crimes against humanity. As a result, the President is working with Congress to determine the best possible options for punishment of the Syrian government (The Guardian). There has been talk of a U.S.-led intervention or possible missile strike in Syria, but France has been the only powerful country to support this idea. Other world players like Russia and China whole-heartedly disagreeing. MSNBC reports that President Assad threatened a full-scale retaliation on the United States if they intervene, warning the United States to “expect everything”.

For two years, the Civil War in Syria was a regional conflict, affecting only those with family and friends in Syria. However, the recent escalation of attacks has everyone wondering if the United States will get involved, and, if so, to what extent. Coming off of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the idea of more Americans on the ground in the Middle East has many worried. For so long, this conflict has been something that seemed a world away.

Now, all of a sudden, it seems to be hitting closer and closer to home. As Latin students, we are involved in international issues and global ethics through LIFE, Model UN, Free The Children, and China Care. Despite this, there has been little public discussion of Syria, even though this conflict could greatly affect our generation. Why are there no discussions of personal views, no debates about the pros and cons of intervention? As global, involved students who are the next generation of the country, it is our responsibility to understand and be educated on the current issues.