While some countries have had a past of war and strategy, Syria’s future depends on it.
by Aashna Chudgar
A lot of us remember learning about the American Civil War in our history class, about how horrifying and gruesome it was. So how would you feel if I told you there’s a country going through that exact thing right now as we speak?
The Syrian Civil War started on March 15, 2011. The Syrian civilians were discontent with authoritarian leader Bashar-al-Assad, a leader known for being oppressive and unwilling to cooperate with the public. Pro-democracy protests erupted throughout the nation, to which al-Assad responded with brutal attacks with police and military forces. Rebels have been warring against the government in an attempt to dethrone him.
Two main organizations have been helping this war: the United Nations, and the U.S. government. While the government has been more on the aid and action side, using multilateralism and military aid as well as economic resources to support the rebels in Syria, the United Nations has been using humanitarian assistance from their various branches, such as UNICEF, a children's charity, UNHCR, a refugee sector, and WFP, the World Food Programme, to help Syrian civilians.
This brings us to our trilemma: Who should bear primary responsibility for the Civil War? The U.S. government or the UN? Or is there a neutral perspective to this issue? Well, let’s find out.
The Government Perspective
The U.S. government has been extremely involved within the Syrian Civil War, alongside Russia, China, and other larger nations who have military advantages. While the U.S. has been known to be more involved in this war, Russia and China are fairly opposed to the idea of intervention and prefer to help by supplying resources rather than soldiers.
According to The Washington Post, “In September 2015, Secretary of State John Kerry announced the United States will give $419 million in humanitarian aid, bringing the total U.S. donation to $4.5 billion since the Syrian conflict began in 2011”. This is one of the main reasons that U.S. assistance is considered essential to Syria. Most of the money from U.S. donations goes to the United Nations, meaning with or without the UN, the U.S. would still be needed in order to get essential funds for operations. On top of this, an extra $300 million dollars was given on top of the essential donation to provide: $128 million in economic aid to Syrians, for food, water, blankets, clothes, medical aid, hygiene, and so much more, as well as $72 million to Lebanon, $24 million to Iraq, $22 million to Turkey, and $6 million to Egypt to help neighboring countries take care of the influx of refugees during the war (Obama Archives).
U.S. involvement has also, however, led to its share of issues within Syria. A wave of airstrikes has been led against al-Assad in response to chemical warfare inflicted upon innocent civilians by the authoritarian. America has led plenty of airstrikes on Syrian soil in the past, but their target has always been ISIS, the dominant terrorist organization in the Middle East. Going against a government itself can be risky, and since no military is equipped to deal with both a terrorist organization and a monarch, starting something you can’t finish is an issue here (The Laker Current).
The United Nations’ Perspective
The United Nations is a very well respected humanitarian and diplomacy organization that receives support from global leaders to conduct operations in third world countries. The important thing to note here is while government intervention has to do directly with the economic resources, capital that the government donates from tax revenues, and the militia they station there, the UN bases their support off of the programs they provide using their donations.
According to UN News, WHO and partners delivered over 14 million treatments across Syria in 2017, and led operations to vaccinate almost 2.5 million children against polio and 4.8 million children against measles. UNFPA (the population fund that deals with pregnancy) supported 19,454 deliveries, including 8,746 C-section operations, inside Syria. In 2018 UNICEF and partners enrolled 2.2 million children aged from 5 to 17 in formal general education, and since March 2011, the UN Human Rights Council has and will continue to investigate all violations of international law. The situation in Syria is currently one of the most prevalent topics in the UN, specifically the Security Council, and has been brought up 33 times in between political action discussions in just one year. The UN has organization and allocation efficiency that no government will ever be able to reach, meaning that no matter which government, private party, or third donor is providing the funds necessary to end the Syrian Civil War, the UN would still be needed in order to provide aid.
The Neutral Perspective
No matter which way we decide who will have legal and economic responsibility in the Syrian War due to foreign policy, supporting people who are fighting for their lives in Syria should be our number one goal. According to Amnesty, “On 26 March, Syrian government forces fired rockets at a school in Sheikh Idriss, east of Idlib city, killing a 10-year-old boy and injuring two other boys aged nine and 10”. No family should ever have to experience that, and yet this is the experience of so many families in Syria currently. Al-Assad has used airstrikes and chemical warfare to harm the people he swore to protect. Hospitals and schools have closed all over Syria because of government forces bombing every building in sight. Thousands of people have disappeared and no one knows where they are. Rebel forces in Syria are doing everything they can to fight this oppressive regime, and if there’s one thing we can do, it’s stand by them in solidarity.
If there’s one thing we can be grateful for, it’s that we can go to sleep without worrying about whether or not we’ll wake up in the morning.
So what do you think? How do we keep this war in the history books?