Sunday, September 8, 2013

The History of Syria, the Slaughter of Innocents and Should the U.S. Get Involved?

I love Peace. I oppose War. However, as a Humanitarian I am concerned about what is happening in Syria. People, including children, are being slaughtered with poison gas. This is a monstrous act. The videos show it all. Most Americans are tired of war. We've been engaged in wars in the Middle East since 1979.  This region has been at war for centuries. Syria gained independence from France in 1946 and, as its own country, has been in the midst of a Civil War since inception. Their President Assad has used poison gas on his own people since 2012. 
Our President Obama is asking Congress to intervene. We are the only country who has shown a willingness to help the victims.
Some countries support this intervention, but many countries oppose it. The problem is, no other country will act and the countries that hate us and want to overthrow our way of life are watching our actions. Congress will decide this week if we will intervene. We need to study the issues and contact our Congressmen with our views.

History of Syria:
From 1516 - 1918, all of the countries in the Middle East were part of the Ottoman (Turkish) Empire. After World War I, their Empire was split up and the countries in the Middle East were established and had sponsor countries. Syria was a "mandate" of France from 1918 - 1943. It was a difficult rule. French troops occupied Syria and there were constant revolts. France evacuated their troops in April, 1946.

Even with Freedom, there was constant upheaval in Syria. In 1948, they were involved in the Arab-Israeli War, aligning themselves with other Arab states attempting to prevent the establishment of the State of Israel. In 1956, Syria signed a pact with the Soviet Union to gain military equipment and military training for their constant battles with opposing religious groups (internally) and with neighboring countries. In the 1950's, they began building their Military Committee. In 1966, the Military Committee overtook their own Ba'athist political party. In 1967, their military participated in the War against Israel. Israel turned their sights to Syria and captured the entire Golan Heights in less than 48 hours. This defeat caused an internal split between Jadid - who ran their political party and al-Assad (Sr.) - who was the Lead General of their Military.  In 1970, the Military (bloodlessly) overthrew the government and General al-Assad became the Leader of Syria. The first President al-Assad was well known for using terror, intimidation, guerilla warfare and assassinations to extend his control over his country and neighboring countries.

Syria, Lebanon and Egypt continued their wars with Israel. Israel attempted to take more lands from Lebanon. Syria and Egypt fought with each other for control and also sought to defeat Israel.

In the 1970s, an internal religious group sought to free themselves from the Military Rule of the Ba'athists. This internal Islamic group, primarily comprised of Sunnis, named themselves "The Muslim Brotherhood." Their group began as a moderate, humanitarian group opposed to al-Assad's tyranny. They represented 88% of the Syrian people (60% Sunni). They started with 500 and by 1978, their numbers grew to 300,000.

Syria's military Ba'ath Party consisted of Alawites. The Alawites were only 12% of the population and they lived on the northwestern seaboard.

The Brotherhood fought hard against the military. The Military fought back. In 1982, during these Civil Wars, the Syrian Military's "Hama Massacre" killed up to 40,000 of their own people.

In the late 1980s through the 1990s including the Gulf War, the Syrian Army made a major shift. Instead of partnering with their other Arab States, they partnered with the U.S. (Bush Sr. and Clinton) The U.S. provided them military weapons and military training. Syria also started negotiating with Israel.

In June, 2000, al-Assad (Sr.) died and his son, Bashar al-Assad was elected President -- he ran unopposed. It's very important to understand that al-Assad (Sr) was very ill and since 1993, knew he was dying. He put careful plans in place to ensure his son would succeed him. In fact, he retired many of his Military Generals and brought in new staff to specifically ensure that his son would be elected and to ensure his son would have a supportive staff.

The civil wars continued; many intellectuals were imprisoned and killed.

In 2003, Israel bombed a site near Damascus, Syria's capitol, claiming they were bombing a terrorist training camp.

In 2011, the Arab Spring began as a chain of peaceful protests. The protestors were attacked by the Syrian Army. In July, 2011, the "Free Syrian Army" was formed by Army Defectors and is comprised primarily of Sunnis.

In March 2013, as a result of the ongoing civil war, an alternative government was formed: "The Syrian National Coalition" which is said to represent the vast majority of the country.  Representatives of this government were invited to take up Syria's seat at the Arab League on March 28, 2013. The opposition coalition has been recognized as the "sole representative of the Syrian people" by several nations including the United States, United Kingdom and France

The U.N. and other sources say over 100,000 civilians in Syria have been killed by the Syrian Army. "The Human Rights Watch" referred to Syria's record as "among the worst in the world." Internet and telecommunications are controlled by the military. Arbitrary detention, torture, and disappearances are widespread. In 2011,  the United Nations reported that over 250 deaths were children as young as 2 years old, and that boys as young as 11 years old have been gang raped by security services officers.

Over 1.7 million Syrian refugees have escaped to their neighboring countries of Jordan, Iraq, Lebanon and Turkey.  As the civil war has dragged on, there have been worries that the country could become fragmented and cease to function as a state.

In August 2013, Syria was accused of using chemical weapons against its civilians. In early September 2013, President Obama told U.S. Senators that the CIA had trained the first 50-man insurgent element and that they had been inserted into Syria. The deployment of this unit and the supplying of weapons may be the first tangible measure of support for the Opposition by the U.S.

Syria continues to foster good relations with her traditional Allies, Iran, China, Venezuela and Russia. The primary source of Syria's earnings are: 40% Oil Export, 20% Agriculture and increased Taxes upon their people. Their tourism industry has dropped to almost zero. Since the Civil War in 2011, their economy has shrunk by 35% and the Syrian Pound is down to 1/6 its former value. Their government is increasingly relying on loans from Iran, Russia and China.

Let's go back to the Questions:
1. Should the U.S. get involved? Can we allow the Gassing of Innocents to Continue?
2. What involvement would we have? Does it start with Weapons and Training of the Opposition? (as has already occurred by the CIA) Will it end there? What do we do if they and their Allies retaliate against the U.S.? What if the Opposition hates the US too?
3. What happens IF we don't get involved? Will this strengthen them and their Allies? Will they expand their attacks on their opposition and neighboring countries?

The President has brought this request to the People.
We should study the issues -- the facts, decide for ourselves and notify our Congressmen.


Felix Jaure said...

why would the Syrian dictator approve the use of chemical weapons on the opposition if he was aware of the consequences involved in doing so? Maybe there is another side to the story. Maybe just maybe the rebels themselves were willing to sacrifice a handful of people and under such circumstances get America to back them up in order for them to achieve their ultimate goal.

Dee said...

Assad has admitted to using chemical weapons.
Perhaps he is looking for the outcome we are currently witnessing.
He is closely aligned with Russia and Iran.
We have witnessed these same actions in the 70s/80s and 90s during the Gulf War. Dictators persecuting their people. Revolt occurs.
I'm going to writing about this in more detail on Sunday.

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