US Involvement in Syria Stirs Controversy


Kate Heister '23, News Writer

     Even though Syria is almost 7,000 miles from the United States, the United States still has, or has had, a large involvement in the ongoing Syrian War. Hundreds of thousands of people have died or are assumed dead due to bombings, shootings, and chemical weapon attacks. This war has been ongoing for around 8 years. However, this civil war is not something that is commonly talked about here in the US. Sue Kampert, the Upper School health teacher, believes that this topic should be talked about more because “Innocent lives are being lost, as well as it creates a lot of refugees searching for new places to live.” However, some students of Friends aren’t even aware that there is a war in Syria. If the United States and Syria are so separated, why is it that America has been involved with this war, and how has America impacted this civil war?

     In order to understand how the United States has impacted The Syrian Civil War, a little background knowledge of this war is necessary. The Syrian Civil War began in early 2011 with demonstrations, or protests, against the government at the time. The country had a very low standard of living and a very oppressive government. Though it is considered a republic, President Assad has been in power in Syria since 2000. However, the controlling parties of Syria practice a highly authoritarian rule. After the protests of the government, the Syrian government responded violently. After the aggressive reply, there were many more protests against the president of Syria, Bashar al-Assad. The violence soon spread all around the country, leading the area into the civil war that still takes place today.

     Because the United States supports human rights, America has been supporting those who are protesting against the Syrian Government. According to the Global Conflict Tracker, the United States has been supporting the Syrian rebels’ many organizations since the beginning of the war. Whether it was sending food and supplies or training rebel troops to fight, the United States has done a lot for the Syrian rebels. The United States has also placed economic sanctions on Syria, according to the United States Department of State; some were placed in 2011 after the Syrian government’s violent response to protesters, and some in 2012 after the Syrian government violated the human rights of their citizens. According to the Washington Post, President Assad used chemical weapons and bombs on his own citizens. This crosses a very serious line with the United States.

     This leads into ISIS, or the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, which is a terrorist group that is known for frequently killing or publicly executing multiple people at once and destroying the ancient holy and historic sites. ISIS wants to create an Islamic land that mirrors the one of long past. ISIS gained a lot of power in 2014 but lost much of it in 2016. The conflict finally seemed to be reaching a conclusion when the US killed Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of ISIS.

       However, more recently President Donald Trump has pulled American troops from the key area of the Syrian-Turkey border. This has been repeatedly criticized. Many people believe that this will cause uncertainty in what other countries that support the rebels in Syria should do. It is also thought that this gives a large advantage to the Syrian government and its supporters, namely Russia.

     This is not the only conflict in Syria. Turkey, who was a longtime ally of the United States, has attacked the Kurds, the largest minority in Syria and a longtime partner of America. However, the United States has recently pulled out of the war in Syria. When Turkey attacked the Kurds, America did nothing to stop them.

     Hundreds of thousands of people have died in this conflict. Millions of people are now considered internally displaced or refugees, according to the Council on Foreign Relations. However, there are some people who are unaware of this conflict or are not as educated on this topic as much as they could be. It could simply be because this war isn’t being fought in the United States or because it is not directly affecting almost anyone here directly. For example, Rohan Mandyam ‘23 stated, “I don’t know much about the Syrian Civil War. I believe that there is a crisis happening there, but I haven’t learned much about it in school.” Many people believe that this conflict is at least something that should be talked about more often. Siba Sharaf ‘21has stated “I am not talking as an Arab, Muslim, or a Middle Eastern right now but as an exchange student who lived with Americans , interacted with them and took a general idea of how much do they know about what is really happening not just in Syria but in the whole Middle East so I would say that the Syrian war should absolutely be something talked about especially between people in our age.” And then she stated why: “Kids and teenagers in Syria did not live their childhood and teenage life; they had to grow up very early so they can deal with the war that they are living so I am not saying that people in our age have to go through the same thing I’m just saying that they have to be aware of what is really going on in the world because if they did not know they will never try to change and to add on that I think it is more important to talk about this war with people in our age more than other people because teenagers are the new coming generation that after few years will start having jobs and taking positions that they may use to do that change and end this war. To end this war you don’t have to be Arab, Muslim or Middle Eastern you just have to be human.” Overall, student opinions on this topic have been very strong. The news has remained very relevant and brings new developments by the day. Remember to stay updated!