Damascus, Syria - Syrian children receive first aid after what local sources say was an attack by forces loyal to Syrian President Assad with chlorine gas on the town Hamuriya in a hospital in the rebel-held eastern Al-Ghouta province. (Anas Alkharboutli/DPA /Zuma Press/TNS)

Kumar: Syria’s suffering has gone ignored

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The complex proxy wars in Syria have made peace impossible, and all those involved refuse to put an end to it, leading innocent Syrians to suffer while the world turns a blind eye.

Michelle Kumar

michelle-kumar@uiowa.edu

The people of Syria have suffered for almost eight long years. They have watched their friends, family, and neighbors die, and their homes and towns burn. Since the war broke out in 2011, the United Nations estimates more than 400,000 Syrians have died as a result of fighting. This war has spiraled into a global event with international players such as the U.S., Russia, and surrounding countries having a role in the war. Despite these global ties, the plight of Syrians has gone largely ignored by Western media. The only times Syria was ever mentioned in mass media is to blame refugees for immigration issues or when Aleppo was under siege.

The war has turned into a free-for-all which allows us to forget the ramifications our decision to participate or not has on the world. Especially how that decision shapes immigration policy and opens a door for nationalist and alt-right views to enter the political stage. The proxy wars hidden underneath are adding unnecessary complexity and carnage and do not have the Syrian people’s best interests in mind.

The Council on Foreign Relations said, “The fight has been further complicated by outside powers that have funded and armed combatants and, in some cases, backed them with air support or manpower. Outgunned by pro-regime forces, many opposition groups have aligned with jihadi factions.”

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Among the government and the rebels, the U.S., Russia, Turkey, the Kurds, and ISIS, the secularists and theocrats, it’s fair to say the Syrian government isn’t the sole abuser. The use of Syria to advance personal interests comes at the high cost in innocent lives.

It’s interesting now that the U.S. refuses to directly intervene when there is no clear exploit to be gained in Syria, other than saving lives and stopping terrorists, of course. Whereas Russia, trying to cling to whatever power it has left in the Middle East, has directly backed the Syrian government and carried out attacks on its behalf. Russia sits on the United Nations Security Council and has manipulated that power to allow the abuse of innocent citizens in Syria. The rest of the world is busy trying to offer sympathies and figure out what empty threat will end this war. Literally thousands of people die because of the world’s inaction.

The current bombing in eastern Ghouta, some of the deadliest attacks since the government reclaimed Aleppo, is riddled with air strikes and chemical warfare and has no signs of stopping anytime soon. Doctors Without Borders reported that the death toll is still being estimated but as of now, approximately 1,000 Syrians have died and 4,800 are injured. Many countries fear this will ignite another mass exodus of refugees to already-burdened countries. This further fuels the fears of native citizens of those countries and drives them to retaliate against the refugees, making the problem messier than it already is.

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The Rand Corp. has reported that “Modern insurgencies last approximately 10 years, and the government’s chances of winning may increase slightly over time. Withdrawal of state sponsorship cripples an insurgency and typically leads to its defeat. Inconsistent or impartial support to either side generally presages defeat.”

This basically means in order for the war in Syria to wind down, the proxy wars need to end. The foreign players need to come to a consensus first before any peace talks with Assad and the opposition can occur. Any chance Syria has at peace rests in the hands of people who aren’t even Syrian, people whose media can’t even be bothered to cover the devastating loss of life unless it’s to villainize or pity them.

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