Get serious about Syria

A few weeks ago the Arab League monitors that were sent from the Gulf states to Syria were removed because of heavy criticism by anti-regime protestors who claim that the monitors were only allowed into the country in order to make the Syrian government look better. In addition, between 5,000 to 6,000 people have been killed in the past 10 months since the protests started.

But who cares?  Most people (even in the Bay Area) can’t even point out where Syria is on a map, and many confuse it with Saudi Arabia, Siberia, or Serbia.  Even after Libya’s Gaddafi was captured and killed in October 2011, my coworkers weren’t even aware of the Libyan Revolution (which our own country participated in), let alone the Arab Spring.  And while I suppose I shouldn’t expect college students to be aware of every strife taking place in the Middle East, it upsets me that their teachers aren’t discussing current events with their students.

Now, back to Syria.  While it is a just slightly larger than North Dakota, it might determine the stability of the Middle East in the future.  Damascus (Syria’s capital) was once the capital of the Umayyad Islamic Empire and is one of the oldest continually inhabited cities in the world.  It shares borders with Turkey, Lebanon, Israel, and Jordan, and still has a strong influence in Lebanon, even after Syrian troops withdrew in 2005.

Even Bashar Al-Assad, the current president of Syria, warned that if war breaks out in the country, the result would be catastrophic not just for Syria but for the entire Middle East.  While he is obviously saying this to scare off NATO from intervening like they did in Libya, I agree with his statement to some extent.  During Lebanon’s civil war, which lasted about 25 years (1975-1990), Syria intervened using 30,000 troops to restore peace to the region. Syria also participated in the Arab-Israeli wars, and it is currently homing thousands of Palestinian and Iraqi refugees.

More recently, Russia and China vetoed the Arab League’s Western-backed resolution that would call for Bashar Al-Assad to step down from presidency. Thumbs up to Arab League who finally decided to make themselves useful by passing a resolution that really didn’t need to be passed as I’m pretty sure that everybody recognizes the fact that Assad should have stepped down after killing 6,000 of his own people.

The only reason why Russia is sticking to its Arab ally is because it’s in their best interest to keep Assad in power as they make about 1.5 billion a year selling arms to the Syrian government.  And for China and Russia both, supporting Assad would legitimize both authoritarian rule and corruption occurring in their own countries.

In my opinion, foreign intervention in Syria may lead to an explosive situation.  Since the region is already quite sensitive, NATO-led airstrikes may lead to heavy civilian loss and a breakout of a civil war in Syria, a country with many religious and ethnic groups.  Not only that, but I fear that there is a possibility of a Western-backed propped government rising in Syria, which I don’t believe would be healthy for the citizens of the country.

See people?  A country you’ve probably never of is actually of some importance!  Interfering in Syria may affect what will happen later in the Middle East, whether it’s a conflict between Israel and Iran or a revolution occurring in other Arab nations. This is why people should pay more attention to the events in Syria.