Royal Purple Staff Opinion
A wave of revolutions swept across the Middle East and Northern Africa in 2011, earning the name the “Arab Spring” for future history books. While these uprisings were supposed to result in stability and democracy, Syria has been trapped in a brutal civil war for the past four years, and the result has been anything but stability.
More than 220,000 people have been killed, and 800,000 injured, in the Syrian conflict, according to the United Nations.
It seems that Western intervention is necessary, but post-Iraq War America is a country that’s slow to intervene. After overthrowing Saddam Hussein’s regime, the Iraq War became unclear.
We can learn from our mistakes in Iraq, so we don’t make the same ones in Syria. Getting involved in the conflict means getting the United Nations involved. This isn’t just America’s responsibility, we must have global support, and we need to have a specific set of goals to accomplish – No. 1 being stopping the bloodshed of innocent people in Syria.
Also unlike the Iraq War, the American people should be aware of the history of the conflict in Syria.
The war started in March of 2011 when Syrian teenagers were arrested and tortured for painting revolutionary slogans on a school in Deraa. Pro-democracy protests sprung up around the country, but President Bashar Al-Assad-backed security forces opened fire on the crowds, escalating the conflict.
The protestors took up arms to defend themselves and take back their country from the Assad regime, fighting government forces across the countryside.
Allegations of war crimes have been rampant throughout the conflict. In 2013, Assad was accused of using chemical weapons to kill hundreds of Syrians around Damascus, although he (and his ally, Russia) blamed the rebels.
The war, however, is not merely two-sided. The vicious fighting has prompted extremist groups like the Islamic State to join the fighting as well.
The people of Syria are running out of options. With more than 200,000 people already dead and 8 million displaced in the country, nearly 4 million have fled their homes as refugees.
The United Nations has estimated that 2 million of these refugees have fled to Turkey, 600,000 to Jordan and over 1 million to Lebanon.
But with the exception of Germany, who has agreed to take in half a million refugees every year, the rest of the world’s response has been shameful.
Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Japan, Russia and Israel (irony stings sometimes) have closed their doors to these people. They offer money.
But this is not an immigration issue. This is a human issue.
Migrants leave their country in search of economic benefit. Refugees leave their country because they fear for their lives. The powerful countries of the world need to recognize this difference and open their borders to help these desperate people.
In the United States, the Obama administration is increasing its number of accepted refugees each year to 100,000 by 2017. Currently, the U.S. accepts a cap of 70,000 refugees per year. In 2016, the plan is to increase the number of refugee visas to 85,000 and then in 2017, jump to 100,000 visas.
But merely welcoming refugees is not enough. The war in Syria must be put to an end, and this isn’t just an issue for the United States. This is a world issue. When human rights are violated, intervention is everyone’s responsibility.
The Syrian refugees are humans who have had their humanity and their country stolen from them by an oppressive regime. Lest we let radical groups like the Islamic State take power, the United States and the rest of the world has a responsibility to protect the Syrian refugees and put an end to the killing in their country.