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Victims of Conflict in Syria

The current carnage in Syria begs the question: is Bashar al-Assad truly culpable, and if so, is the United States obligated to intervene?

The death toll has reached 19,000 (The UN’s estimates are even higher.), and battle has been raging since March 15th, 2011. It began as a part of the Arab Spring but has developed into a full-fledged civil war. Early efforts of peaceful protesting failed. Now, the rebels, under the banner of the Free Syrian Army, are devoted to unseating the Ba’ath party and al-Assad.

In April, 2011, the Syrian army took action against the rebels. The conflict has only escalated since, and the war has displaced thousands. Unlike other countries involved in the Arab Spring, the Syrian government is not backing down. The resistance has greater numbers, but the government oppresses its people and refuses to consider reform.

Assad and his army have committed numerous atrocities, synonymous with genocide or crimes against humanity. Reports indicate that Syrian Army soldiers have been ordered to fire at civilians or face execution. Thousands have defected and fought under the Free Syrian Army, but many face imprisonment for their desertion. Bombs have been dropped on kindergarteners, and yet nothing has been done.

The brutal tyranny of al-Assad has generated a massive international response. Both the UN and the United Arab Emirates have urged him to step down, but to no avail. The United States has discussed aiding the opposition to create a “fair fight,” while the EU has declared a weapons embargo on Syria. Unfortunately, Russia continues to support the government with weapons and hinder the UN’s efforts, despite much criticism.

Time and again, we must ask: Is any nation responsible, and can any nation intervene? If so, which nation is obligated to do so, and to what extent?

The fighting rages on, moving into Damascus and Aleppo. The conflict isn’t expected to end in the near future, but the world can’t do much more than wait and hope.

Written by Claire Glass’15


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