1) Where is Syria?
Syria is a country in the Middle East, located on the Eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea. It borders Turkey to the north, Iraq to the east, Jordan to the south, and Lebanon & Israel to the west.
2) What is Happening There?
Syria has a long and complicated history. Simply put, this crisis is a long time in the making. Former President Hafez al-Assad (the current president’s father) was known for brutal crackdowns of popular uprisings. Just ask the Muslim Brotherhood of 1982. Assad killed thousands and razed entire neighborhoods during an rebellion similar to the “Arab Spring” events of 2011 which led to this current situation. More about that later.
Another factor is the fact that the current borders were decided upon by western colonists. The westerners didn’t understand the effect of forcing various sects, tribes, cultures and religions to live together would have. As a result, tensions have been escalating for a very long time.
Syrian demonstrators shout slogans while waving former Syrian flags, currently used by the rebels, during an anti-regime protest in the northern Syrian city of Aleppo/Photo Copyright Getty Images
3) Who is Fighting Who?
Continuing the 2011 “Arab Spring” series of revolutions in middle eastern countries (Egypt & Tunisia, specifically), syrians decided to protest against the regime of President Bashar al-Assad. Acting like his father before him, Assad responded with brutality. Eventually, civilians started fighting back.
It is now a civil war. Rebel groups have formed and openly fight the Syrian Army in the streets. Recently, the government used chemical weapons against its own people, killing over a thousand men, women and children. As Syria awaits a worldwide response to the use of these weapons, foreign fighters, jihadists, and soldiers of fortune continue to joint he battle, mostly on the side of the rebels.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad/Photo Copyright Getty Images
4) What is in it for the United States?
The U.S. wants and needs stability in the Middle East. With allies like Jordan, Israel, and a very fragile Iraq on Syria’s borders, the violence can pour over the borders and damage the countries most important to the U.S. in the region. Also, a destabilized Syria can be a very attractive home to U.S. enemies such as al Qaeda. Finally, if the regime is bold enough to use chemical weapons on its own people, and the attack goes unanswered, it will further embolden the regime to do it again… maybe against U.S. interests.
Syrian rebels stand guard as protesters wave Islamist flags during an anti-regime demonstration in the northern city of Aleppo/Photo Copyright Getty Images
5) What’s the Next Step?
With powers like Russia, China and Great Britain unwilling to help, the U.S. is discussing in Congress whether it should strike Syria to reduce Syria’s ability to produce and use chemical weapons. Hearings in the Senate and House are happening right now to make that determination. The next step is up to the president. Either way, the killing will continue, Syria will remain in turmoil, and an end is not yet in sight.
Listen to the full interview with Mike Broomhead here.