Weighing in on the conflict in Syria

The problem started in late 2011 when anti-government protestors rallied against the rule of Bashar al-Assad. Forces took deadly action on the protestors, killing many civilians and sending the country into a civil war.

On August 21, 2013, Syrian neighborhoods were attacked with chemical weapons, killing over 1,400 civilians in what president Obama calls the worst chemical weapons attack in the 21st century.

Immediately after that, gruesome images and videos of the overflowing hospitals and sights of wounded victims hit the web.

“I feel for all of the innocent people who were affected by this attack.   This is an issue that should be resolved with the support of the United States” says Tia Keeler, an MCCC student.

Various reports surfaced as attempts were made to sort out exactly who was behind this act of terrorism.

Some believe evidence proves the Syrian government is responsible, while others are unsure of the origin of the attack

 In Obama’s address to the nation on Sept. 10, he supported his belief that the Assad regime was behind the attack:

“In the days leading up to Aug. 21, we know that Assad’s chemical weapons personnel prepared for an attack near an area where they mix Sarin gas. They distributed gasmasks to their troops. Then they fired rockets from a regime-controlled area into 11 neighborhoods that the regime has been trying to wipe clear of opposition forces.” 

Others disagree with his conclusion; a CBS news headline published Sept. 17th states: “Russia unconvinced that Assad behind Syria chemical weapons attack.”

Obama’s initial response was that we should take military action against Syrian regime targets.

“There’s no point in fighting fire with fire,” said sophomore student Amanda Huber.

“America should not use their powerful military to bully other countries, when there are non-violent solutions that can be put forth,” she said.

Many people around the world agree with this and these voices eventually reached the president.

Unable to get international support, he pursued the support of Congress for limited air strikes. A Congressional decision was postponed when another intervention became feasible.

After U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry made a seemingly off-the-cuff suggestion that Syria could avoid US air strikes by turning over their chemical weapons, Russia persuaded the Syrian government to do just that.

Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov and Kerry reached an agreement calling for a U.N. resolution demanding that Syria hand over its chemical weapons to international control.

However, as of September 18, there are still disagreements about key elements of the proposal. 

The US wants to include the threat of force in the case Syria does not comply. Russia disagrees.

Through all of the conflict and violence one thing is looking promising: a solution may have been found to seize these weapons. 

However, if this does not happen, we can only watch as these decisions are being made.