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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

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    Stirrings in Syria

    Dear Stony Brook Students,

     

    Does anyone know what is going on in Syria? People on campus are so worried that the line at Starbucks is too long, that they have to get up at 8:20 in the morning, or that our precious, beloved memes might go away. Who cares?

    Bashar al-Assad’s regime started in 2000 with the death of his father.  Prior to his death, Hafez al-Assad ruled Syria for 29 years. Hafez had an extremely hostile foreign policy, which set the stage for the current day regime. Bashar was appointed president and then won a controversial vote where he won unopposed with a popular majority of 97.2 percent. Today, Syria is a far cry from a functioning democracy. As a popular movement against Bashar’s regime is building, so is the government violence against this uprising.

    Homs, Syria is the third largest city in the country with a population around one million.  Homs is one of the stronghold for the anti-Assad movement, but in recent weeks, the violence in bombings, killings and riots has dramatically increased, causing many civilian causalities.  Though the United States, European Union, Arab League and Turkey have imposed sanctions on Syria, this is the only intervention so far.

    Many news outlets have outlined reasons why there have been no military actions so far. The biggest problem is that there is no consensus that can be reached by the United Nations Security Council. To those who don’t know the power of the U.N., without the support of the council, there is no legitimacy to the actions taken by other countries against Syria. Russia and China, two allies of Syria, voted against a resolution earlier in the month that would have reprimanded the government and its actions. It is this opposition by China and Russia that has left the U.N unable to intervene.

    Obviously the U.N is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to problems of intervention. Many are skeptical of the support people really have for the anti- Assad movement. In Libya, the problem was a lot more clear cut and visible, whereas in Syria, there is stronger support for the current regime. This split in the country leaves organizations such as the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, which involves itself in military affairs, unclear about whether they should launch their own interventions into Syria. Without it being a U.N. operation, it would have no international legitimacy. This lack of knowledge of the opposition makes military intervention a risky move. If the U.S. was to send military support, many believe Syria could be the new Iraq. Many also believe sanctions to the country, which have already started are the best way to deal with foreign issues. Susan Rice, who is our ambassador to the U.N, believes that the U.S should not intervene and support what could potentially be a civil war. With the economy already falling apart, Rice believes that with the last of Assad’s regime breaking, the people of Syria including soldiers will turn against the regime.

    According to the resistance, the death toll has reached about 8,000, with 60,000 people detained and 20,000 missing. On February 22, Marie Colvin, a famed journalist was killed in Homs.

    During her final interview to Anderson Cooper of CNN, she talked about the violence in Homs and about the amount of shell fire that is affecting civilians in order to break the strongholds. During her interview, CNN showed the graphic video of a child, whom Colvin witnessed, die of shrapnel that had hit him. The boy, only 2 years old, lay on a table soaked in blood, struggling to breathe until he stopped about a minute later. It was a heartbreaking video but shows why the United States, and more importantly the U.N. needs to take action against Syria.

    As an ongoing event, I will keep writing about the violence in Syria, but as students, take a minute to read on the events unfolding there. The resistance is begging for help so now we need to stop wasting time resisting the early morning classes, and unfair tests, and start protesting the violence of Assad’s regime. The resistance has a weak voice, but can become the new government with the influence and power of the United States. With pressure from students, we can start a change of policy towards Syria.

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