– Jillian Courtney, Features Editor
The violence in Syria has been going on since mid-April 2011 after President Bashar al-Assad took over for his father and began cracking down on anti-government protestors. Many of these protestors were peaceful, and seeking to begin the democratic revolution that many other countries, like Egypt and Libya, have had in last year. However, al-Assad used his heavy hand and military to begin wreaking havoc on his country, and it seems the rest of the world has merely stood by and watched.
As the violence escalated, the stories coming from Syria claimed that armed gangs were the reason for the conflict and deaths of civilians, and that the government was merely trying to stop them. Many media outlets were ejected from the country, save for very few, and so the story of Syria hinges on the words of a tiny group of journalists battling through the daily shellings and gun fire currently tearing the country apart.
However, in the last month the violence finally warranted a response from the rest of the world. The United Nations decided that the violations had gone too far and that it was time to ask the President to step down. The downside is that the way the UN is set up means that every major decision must go through the Security Council, the council is made up of five permanent members and 10 non-permanent members who vote on everything before it moves to the General Assembly, which is where the resolution for Syria stopped. The problem came with Russia, a Syrian ally with veto power, who vetoed the resolution and prevented real work from being done.
The resolution has been watered down so much that it’s practically useless, and yet Russia and China still refuse to get on side with the rest of the Council. So, the question still remains: who will help the people of Syria?
Hilary Clinton, a former U.S. Presidential candidate and current Secretary of State, has begun serious work on a new coalition called the Friends of Democratic Syria, a group of countries dedicated to bringing peace and democracy to the currently war-torn country. The coalition would allow the group to step around the UN decision and hopefully take major steps to improve the conditions in Syria. The group is still relatively new and hasn’t done much outside of proclaiming their mission statement, but it seems action is not too far behind.
However, Stacey Wilson-Forsberg, a human rights professor at Laurier Brantford, believes that the U.S. and any groups affiliated with them will not be the solution to Syria’s problem. Rather, the solution will come from the Arab League and perhaps major action from Turkey. The Turkish Foreign Minister visited Washington on February 9 to discuss an Arab proposal with U.S. lawmakers. There is also speculation that Libya, a recently democratized country, is very unhappy with what it going on there, but there is no talk of whether or not they will take any action.
But don’t count the U.S. completely out. The upcoming election makes it difficult for presidential hopefuls to promise any kind of action in Syria, especially after working so hard to pull their troops out of Afghanistan and Iraq after many years of fighting. They will throw in their weight where they can, possibly supplying money as well as providing weapons to beef up whoever decides to take the lead in bringing peace to Syria.
With the UN dragging its heels and Turkey setting up meetings in the U.S., it’s hard to tell what the future holds for the people of Syria. As the violence increases by the day and more people dying with each shot fired, one can only hope that some sort of resolution is thought of before more innocent people lose their lives for simply asking for a fair and balanced government.
– Jillian Courtney, Features Editor