Despite the warning signs for over a year, many feel surprised to learn we are now looking at another tense situation within the Middle East. The escalation of the Syrian crisis came to a tipping point with the alleged use of chemical warfare. Now, the U.N. and the citizens of many world countries wait to hear what will be next. The situation is not as straightforward as it sounds. Regardless of new bulletins, many of the reports coming in are still unconfirmed.
Let’s look at some of the facts that we know:
The current political party in Syria has been in office since 1971 and has not considered to be an extreme religious regime. Many in Syria, after a long history of economic and political disagreements, have joined with rebellious forces following uprising in many other Middle Eastern countries. Since 2011, the conflict has been growing between the government and the uprising, leaving many dead in its wake. Civilian casualties are estimated at this time to be over 100,000, and another 1.5 million have fled to neighboring countries and are facing untold hardships as refugees.
Now, with the latest reports that chemical warfare has been unleashed, the U.N. has opened the case to review intervention. A team is now in place in Syria to investigate the reports. The biggest problem? We might not be able to determine who launched the attack if chemical weapons were used. Without that information, retaliation could fall on the opposing side. Both the governmental forces and the resistance have turned violence onto each other, and few would argue that this willingness to engage has led to the high civilian casualties.
So where are we? Well, pending the results of the investigation, we have the U.N. declining all military intervention at this time. We have the U.S. and British forces continue to assert that even without U.N. approval, they might launch a strike. We have millions of citizens and service members begging to not become involved in yet another unsupported crisis, especially without evidence. The memories of WMDs cause a knee-jerk reaction for many to disbelieve claims of “certain chemical attacks” which “could easily be turned on us.” And in the meantime, with no good answer, we have a nation under siege, and hundreds and thousands dying.
Written By Courtney Kidd, LMSW
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