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General News    H2'ed 1/13/15

An Overview of the Syrian Crisis

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Message Alistair Lamb

The first thing to understand about the situation in Syria is that it is not a fight for democracy or personal freedom any longer. What began as thirteen students demonstrating in the streets of Derra for increased civil liberties, the over reaction toward and unfair abuse of these students, and the counter protests which turned violent, was immediately and completely hijacked, by international powers playing geopolitics to advantage their own interests, and the religious extremists who flock to unstable areas of the world in the hope of spreading whatever warped ideology they peddle. In this region of the world, the ideology is sadly polarized between an extremist and parasitic view of Islam and the Neoconservative misunderstanding of how to combat it: complete destruction of the entire region. The will of the moderate religious community, the president's supporters, and the liberal students wanting a greater voice in a government with less corruption and nepotism are somewhere in the middle, not being heard.

Allow me to skip from the initial instability to the present situation. A gradual escalation saw the spirit of the Arab Spring present itself with hope of revolution, to be followed by peaceful and democratic governments. What has followed in the countries where this phenomenon occurred has been fractioning and radicalization. The idea that we as people deserve certain inalienable rights and should be represented fairly in our governments who respect and love their people, nice idea indeed, is shared by many throughout our wide and lovely world. Others planning on piggy-backing the general demand for increased freedom are now responsible for transforming the protests in Syria into a crisis. This is the present situation, a proxy war with every major power of the world having a hand in funding one side or the other (or the 100 in between).

Composed of Iran, Syria, Hezbollah of Lebanon, and certain Palestinian groups we have (as I've always mentally named it) the Axis of Resistance. Since the Syrian crisis began, Russia has presented itself as a major ally, providing huge diplomatic support (as well as serious military support), especially in the UN Security Council where it has vetoed every attempt by the United States to impose a No Fly Zone or in any other way intervene directly in Syria, as well as negotiating the transfer of chemical weapons out of Syria. No doubt Russia learned from what happened with Libya's former Qaddafi. The United States had to evoke the slower acting and slightly less obvious mechanism of under the table support for the rebels opposing the Assad Government of Syria. Tragically, without understanding the culture, religious nuances, sentiments of the majority of Syria's citizens, or the trouble a power vacuum would cause, the United States Government has continued its embarrassing efforts to interject itself into affairs that it should not. The US government is not alone in this policy of messing in a region of the world they don't understand. Joining them, the British, the French, Israel, the Gulf, constitute an Axis of Imperialism.

The United States' alliance with the Gulf States was solidified shortly before Truman came to office. The importance of oil was the only reason the alliance was founded, and why it remains today. Certainly, the extremist monarchy that rules Saudi Arabia doesn't have much ideologically in common with the average American citizen, nor do the Wahhabists of Saudi Arabia have any interest in spreading our culture to their part of the world, influencing their youth against the hardline Islamist traditions that have been the country's way of life for however many centuries. Rather the Sauds desire for protection from rivals, togehter with the United States' perpetual thirst for oil were the simple criteria for the military aid we supply them, and the discounted oil prices US companies receive. This relationship has not much changed since the 40s.

Israel and the United States have what has to be the most toxic and loathed relationship of any two nations in the world today. Ideologically Israels' actions are counter to every founding principle of the United States. The evil perpetrated by the Zionists cannot begin to be listed in this brief overview but what I can confidently say is that the actions of the Zionists are working against it's own long term interests, the United States' unconditional and ever increasing support for the country is not just the reason the Nation of Israel still exists as an apartheid force but is also why US popularity has shrank so catastrophically in the past several decades. The best action the United States can take to reverse its image in the rest of the world would be to sever military ties with Israel and hold it accountable for the deeds it has committed. This would include ceasing the use of the US's veto in the United Nations to block any attempt toward Palestinian Statehood, ceasing to hypocritically excuse Israel's need for security as grounds for operatiing with impunity against the civilian populations it terrorizes, and find a way to reign in Congress, better known as the incarnation of the Zionist Lobby's Will.

As an American citizen I am repulsed that my country, founded on the ideals of Freedom of Religion, Speech, Press, Assembly, the ability to petition your government with your grievances, supports a nation that was founded specifically for members of a particular religion, where the native populations have either been forced into exile in atrocious refugee camps where they are oten treated as second class citizens, or remain in Occupied Palestine, where they are treated as second class citizens, or have been massacred. Given that the Nation of Israel was founded largely due to sympathy for the Jewish People after the slaughters of the German regime of the 30's and 40's, if it is believed these people deserve a country exclusively for themselves, I personally would recommend carving off a nice part of Bavaria. Certainly this would make more sense than one country (Britain) giving a second people (Jewish) the land of a third (Palestinian) because of the actions of a fourth (the Nazis). Regardless of your personal political sentiments, it is an indisputable fact that the close and continuous support the United States Government gives the Zionists is the single largest error in a Neo Conservative Foreign Policy that has been disastrous to the People of the United States since the 50's. It fuels radicals who have been victimized by Israel to label the US as the proximate cause of their misery and has made us the most cherished target of the growing extremist movement in the Middle East (as well as Africa and some parts of Asia).

The fact that Israel is well known to have launched air strikes into Syria and provided the Rebels with money and medical treatment is ironic and short sighted. Israel's idea of how to proceed in Syria is to continue the fighting for as long as it can until Assad is eventually removed either through military action or as part of a settlement reached between the major players, the US and Russia. To severely weaken both the Syrian Government's army and infrastructure as well as the terrorists exported from Saudi Arabia is advantageous to Israel as both are enemies of the country. The hope is that a new government will be peaceful toward Israel and obey the instructions of the US. Why a post-war Syria is so important to Israel is that if the regime survives it will continue its alliance with Iran and Hezbollah, providing direct land transit for weapons all the way from Iran to Lebanon and Palestine. If this situation were to change and the future pro-Western Syrian Government were to be allied with Israel or at least be an enemy of Iran, aid to Hezbollah and Palestine would diminish or at least be that much more difficult logistically. Israel has no sympathy for an Arab civilian and it's main goal from the beginning of this conflict was to topple Assad. Until he is gone it has no interest in ending the situation and is apparently indifferent to the fact that Syria has become a training ground for Extremists who will turn their sights to Israel as soon as the opportunity presents itself, which would be shortly after Assad is gone and they can continue to spread west.

Turkey, by which I mean the Erdogan Government, has been very important in the escalation of this conflict , an escalation it could have prevented. Choosing to open its border to foreign fighters and the weapons that continue to support the opposition but closing it to the Kurdish fighters who are trying to combat their advance is very telling. When the US decided to launch air strikes against The Islamic State earlier this summer, Turkey refused to support the venture. The only way this would change and the US would be allowed to use the very strategically located bases of Turkey was if it the express purpose of the action were to topple the Assad Regime. It's more important to Turkey to prevent the very popular Assad to continue to exist and suppress any empowerment of the Kurds than to prevent the spread of Islamist terrorists. Also, perhaps, Erdogan is a sympathizer: he has taken steps recently that prevent students from wearing make up, tattoos and revealing clothing in school, stopped bartending classes as one of the options at some tourism schools, and makes a pre-Ataturk form of Arabic required learning, along with mandatory expanded religious classes. He seems to be envisioning a sort of revived Ottoman Empire, perhaps expanding into Syria.

Russia's only remaining presence in the Middle East since being forced out of Afghanistan is the Tartus base on the coast of the Mediterranean. Less concerned about the actual figurehead ruling Syria, Russia's interest lies in preserving its influence in the region and just as importantly, countering the spread of Western influence. Its support for the government of Syria has less to do with ideology and is not as unwavering as Iran's. With the economic sanctions on Russia for it's actions in Ukraine and the recent OPEC decision to continue to flood the world supply of oil, driving down prices, Russia is in a tough economic situation. It could be to its benefit for a behind-the-scenes deal that would stop its support of Assad in exchange for removing the sanctions or some other economic relief. The Rubble has dropped by half and its biggest source of income, energy exports, is being devalued by cheap oil prices, which don't just hurt Russia but also Iran and Iraq, every form of green energy and of course, US Shale which is expensive to produce and can only be worthwhile if oil prices are high. However, recent statements from the Russian Government show little intention to alter the policies that have led to these sanctions and it is confident that within two years oil prices will rise, pulling Russia out of its recession. And like every other population affected by sanctions, whether Russian, Iranian, or Syrian, the blame for the hardships caused is not directed toward their governments but rather the governments that imposed them.

For this reason, imposing sanctions is not just counterproductive in terms of instigating civil unrest, it is a unifying mechanism, as well as a violation of international law and a form of terrorism under this definition: terrorism is any harmful action taken against a civilian population for political purposes, whether this be violent, economic, psychological. My recommendation would be for these countries to seek an advisory opinion at the International Criminal Court and demonstrate the damage that has been done to their people. For the US, I recommend inclusive talks on how to end the fighting in Syria by relieving economic sanctions as a condition of ceasing to support the various militias in play, with the preservation/ negotiation of each nation's interests as part of the finer details to be hashed out. This would include Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Israel stopping their support for the opposition as well. The first step to a peaceful Syria with increased civil liberties for it's citizens is to eradicate the foreign and extremist militias, bring every liberal and moderate member of the opposition together with the government to discuss what rights should be added to the new constitution and hold referenda on the various drafts of this constitution in tandem with national and local elections, monitored very closely by the international community to ensure their legitimacy. This is the main point lost in an International Proxy War: the Will of the People.

What absolutely cannot continue are the War Crimes every side of this conflict have perpetrated. I've seen first hand the indiscriminate destruction of Barrel Bombs, Hell Cannons, home made mortars inflict. It is important to admit that there are no "good guys" in this fight, we are dealing with shades of gray. I would prefer peace and love to be possible everywhere for everyone, but since we're in reality, I'll need to lower my expectations accordingly. The Islamic State is as bad as it can get, so while I do not support every action of the Syrian regime I recognize it to be the much preferable alternative. As for deposing Assad and bringing in a Pro-Western puppet government this is not possible. The opposition to Assad is so splintered that removing the President would not stop the fighting. It would grow exponentially because the remnants of the Army and the supporters of Assad would have to join the fight as decentralized militias and the power vacuum created by his departure would intensify the fervor with which radicals wage war on the Syrian people. Religious extremists flourish in chaos like bacteria in a warm petri dish so the best way to multiply the death rate, number of refugees, infrastructural damage, crimes against civilians such as rape and theft, is to remove the President. There will at some point need to be an amnesty and disarmament of the opposition for them to feel safe dropping their weapons once peace accords are actually reached. This will not be popular with the regime's supporters but is necessary.

As a recent visit has instilled me with a great love for the historical and culturally significant treasures our Syrian cousins safeguard for all of humanity, as well as the benevolent disposition of nearly every single person I met there, I implore the reader to encourage their elected representatives to end this crisis immediately as well as provide better aid to the estimated 9 million refugees.

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Hello! I'm Alistair, originally from the DC area but currently in Beirut studying Arabic and Politics, I've recently been able to visit Syria and plan to do so again soon, while here I hope to share some of my experiences and the good first hand (more...)
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An Overview of the Syrian Crisis

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