Friday, September 13, 2013

What Has Changed: Syria

What Has Changed

When you look at the current conflict in Syria from a historical point of view you will find that nothing has changed. The French mandate of Syria has left the country divided since its independence in 1946. Prior to that, France governed Syria via a policy of divide and rule. Instead of promoting a national identity that encompassed all Syrians, the French encouraged ethic, religious, class, and territorial differences already within the country and still very much present today.  For example, Syrian President, Bashar al-Assad, is an Alawite Muslim, as are the top officials in the Syrian government, including the military.  The Free Syrian Army is composed of Sunni Muslims, which happens to be the Syrian majority.  The tension between these two conflicting groups, first manifested under French Rule, still affects the politics of Syria today as well as the nature of their current civil war.
            If Syria has yet to get past its sectarian disunity how will a US military strike help? While I commend President Obama for his humanitarian interest considering Syria, I do not believe that a US military attack will solve anything. However the main concern currently revolves around Syria's chemical weapons. Although Assad has agreed to give up Syria's chemical weapons arsenal, the civil war still continues. If the use of chemical weapons used against civilians is the primary reason for US military action, then what will happen after the chemical weapons are no longer in their possession? The Middle East is constantly riddled with internal conflict.  Is the US expected to send troops to aid every single one?
As I previously stated this civil war is based upon tensions established decades before.  The minority Alawites standing behind the Assad regime verses the Sunni majority. The fighting is not expected to end soon. Both parties have too much at stake. The elite Alawites do not wish to give up their power. Although the US in providing aid for the Free Syrian Army, it needs to be aware of radical Islamist groups like the Syrian jihadists who are a part of the Free Syrian Army. The nature of this civil war is a combination of politics and religion, thus making it difficult to  find a solutions to the conflict within Syria. President Obama's persistence has served its purpose; Assad has agreed to hand over the chemical weapons.  I do believe that after the weapons are in fact secured, the threat of US military action within Syria should be taken off the table.  Military action does not necessarily mean an end to the conflict.