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56 Reviews

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Points: 11665
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Thu Feb 09, 2012 7:08 pm
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Attolia says... ... 12401.html

"Snipers are on all the roofs in Baba Amr, shooting at people," Abu Muhammad Ibrahim, an activist in Homs, told The Associated Press by phone.
"Anything that moves, even a bird, is targeted," he added, with the sounds of explosions in the background. "Life is completely cut off. It's a city of ghosts."

I could post literally hundreds of articles about this. I deactivated my facebook and thus have shifted my addiction to the "world" section of yahoonews; I check this stuff (mostly Syria, but other things as well) a few times a day, and it's freaking appalling.

What can we do? What can anyone do? I know all the logical answers: the U.N. isn't gonna do shit because of Russia so then it can possibly be up to NATO and the Arab League to impose sanctions and possibly airstrike. But international pressure has been occurring for a while and doesn't seem to be doing much. Assad still retains significant power and military loyalty. And then you have Iran, Russia, China etc still supporting and supplying. Regardless, I know, as almost everyone agrees, that Assad's days are numbered - but still, that doesn't make reading these articles and watching the amateur youtube footage any easier.

So, what can any single person do? How do you handle this shit? I try to talk to people about it but honestly nobody cares, so I've given up, not wanting to be that annoying self-righteous prick. Even my fellow political science majors are more interested in Iran-versus-the-West and don't care about this. As to what I can do, I'm too cynical and realistic to thinking making a "Save Syria!" club or fundraising event at my college is going to do anything to help the people dying in Homs and the suburbs of Damascus and everywhere else.

And then, even when Assad does fall, it's not like it'll be over. Then the Alawites and Druze and Christians will be in huge danger of almost Rwanda-style revenge persecution, Syria will experience Egypt-and-Iraq-esque difficulties of forming a new government, and likely the Brotherhood will exert a more powerful presence and the secular nature of Syria will diminish.

So, how do you look at this situation and not feel depressed about the world? How do you look at it from your privileged, middle-class position at a Californian university, where you're not even supporting yourself or living in the real world here, and go about your daily life?

My answers to what international community could do: humanitarian relief to ravaged neighbors; NATO airstrikes at Assad's forces; support to the Free Syria Army; Mossad-style execution of Assad and top members of his regime; NATO occupation to instill a democratic, coalition government to prevent persecution (but I don't like that on principle and realistically don't think it would work, but how can you solve that problem?); fiscal and more humanitiarian aid.

What a single person (without power over his nation's government) wanting to help could do: Mossad-style execution still if you're really badass, though that'll still cause lots of chaos and wouldn't immediately relieve anything; join the Free Syria Army; give aid to the opposition groups; actually go to this neighborhoods and help - help disburse medicine, help care for wounded, help safeguard children; ...I don't know. Give me all your guys' ideas.

So essentially this was my spiel and venting(?) about this, after months of it building it up in my head and facing apathy when trying to discuss it with real-life people - my apologies for its length and unconventional nature. But the point was only partly to get this off my chest, mostly I want to hear your guys' opinions about 1) what help can be enacted 2) what will happen. And, I know many of you are also interested in international affairs such as this, and I want to talk about it with more people who actually care.

Thank you. Reply reply reply.
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36 Reviews

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Fri Feb 10, 2012 3:00 am
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tr3x says...

I have been following the news in Syria with great interest. I understand your frustration , I have a friend with family in Syria, and I can't imagine what he's been going through - they lost contact a few weeks ago and have been unable to reach them since.
Of course, the first reaction anyone familiar with US foreign policy would have is that we should rush in, instill democracy, bomb Assad into the ground and leave the world a better place. However, there are very real disadvantages and consequences to such a move.
Firstly: Russia. Syria (and the Assad regime) has been a longstanding ally of Russia. They buy arms from Russia (despite various UN trade an armament embargoes), in fact they are to Russia what Israel is to the US: a close ally politically and ideologically. In fact Syria was the only non-Soviet power to have a Russian military base in their territory. So why does Russia not want us intervening in Syria? On top of this, Russia is wary of expanding Western influence in the Middle East; they declined from voting on the Libyan intervention, and the result was NATO action in Libya that overstepped the boundaries laid out by the security council. Russia does not want western liberal democracies (i.e. the US) to have an excuse to expand their influence into Syria.
Now, while the US and the rest of the security council have expressed righteous moral outrage over Russia and China's vetos, this resolution actually gives everyone an easy way out. Russia and China get to flex their muscles and show the world that they're a force to be reckoned with while defending their ally and the US gets to back out of a potentially disastrous foreign invasion - the American public are finally getting tired of those - while still expressing moral outrage and taking the high ground. Everyone wins, except Syrian citizens, who are dying at the hands of an autocratic dictator, but since when as foreign policy really ever been about "doing the right thing"?

Also of interest: Anonymous recently accessed the email accounts of 75 of Assad's staffers, and there contents can be found here: ... /mail2.pdf

These excerpts were of particular interest to me, found in one of the emails:
It is hugely important and worth mentioning that “mistakes” have been done in the
beginning of the crises because we did not have a well-organized “police force”. American Psyche can be easily manipulated when they hear that there are “mistakes” done and now we are “fixing it”.

“Syria doesn’t have a policy to torture people” unlike the USA, where there are courses and schools
that specializes in teaching police men and officers how to torture criminals and “outlaws”. For instace,
“the electric chair and killing through injecting an overdose amount of medicine”...etc.
*We can use Abu Ghraib in Iraq as an example.

It is worth mentioning that when Obama asked H.E to step down he himself have had a
70% decrease of his popularity in the States.
It would be worth mentioning how your personality has been attacked and praised in
the last decade according to the media. At one point H.E was viewed as a hero and in
other times H.E was the "bad guy". Americans love these kinds of things and get
convinced by it.

We can use Noland and Hillary’s statements encouraging armed groups to not give up their weapons as
a “clear” way of asking for a civil war in Syria.

The veracity of these emails has not been ascertained, so take them with a pinch of salt.
A lie can run around the world before the truth has got its boots on.
- Terry Pratchett

Si non confectus, non recifiat - If it ain't broken, don't fix it.

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Sat Feb 11, 2012 2:21 pm
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Blink says...

I think the best idea I've heard would be to help Turkey invade Syria and establish the National Coalition as a government, and for the following reasons:

1) Turkey is a Muslim country. The people of Syria will not see the invading forces as a Western "crusade", which sadly played a large role in Libya.

2) Turkey wishes to join the EU. This will act as a fantastic way of baptising its entrance, proving that it is capable of acting as a mature, Western nation with a respect for democratic values.

3) Turkey is beginning to slip away from Ataturk's secularism. This will remind the people of the values upon which its country was founded - as the antithesis for Ottoman theocracy.

4) If Nato invades, it risks a proxy war with Russia. Besides the obvious consequences, it could boost Putin's popularity and make his election victory a certainty. And thus fades Russian democracy.

The simple point should be to provide a free area for the Free Syrian Army to conduct its business as a haven from Assad. If Assad falls in front of sectarian divisions in Syria, with no stable authority to take over, then it risks a power vacuum that will only escalate regional conflicts, and might ultimately destabilise Iraqi Kurds.

Put it like this: the UN has lost its moral authority to make decisions. One of its permanent security seats belongs to the totalitarian oligarchy of China, and another to Putin's cronies. It failed to act in Rwanda, and half a million people were butchered. In Kosovo, Nato was forced to act. It was responsible for a million Iraqi deaths before the invasion, and when it came, it refused to endorse it (thanks in part to the current culprits).

I don't expect Obama or Sarkozy to concede that an election victory is not as important as Syrian lives, but unless something is done there will be a moral stain on the West for a long time.

EDIT: I should add - I'm working with a friend to force the headmaster at my school to put up a Syrian Independence (pre-Baathist) Flag on the flagpole! Lol, I'm so bourgeois.
"A man's face is his autobiography. A woman's face is her work of fiction." ~ Oscar Wilde

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Tue Feb 14, 2012 2:58 pm
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Rubric says...

1) If Turkey received any support in invading Syria (as you suggest) it WOULD BE a western-backed invasion. Arab nations, China and Russia would respond and we'd have at best a regional conflict and at worst nuclear annihilation. If turkey did not receive western support it would lack the resources and the inclination to invade.

2) The criteria for entering the EU do not include the invasion of arab nations, although there is probably a fairly strong correlation. The siren song of the EU has been tarnished of late given the current GFC and I strongly doubt it could lure the Turkish government into committing the actions you describe.

3) Turkey invading a fellow muslim country against the wishes of its population would destroy the remains of Turkey's secular tradition in a popular backlash that would drag Turkey into the Arab Spring. Turkey is moderate compared to its neighbours, but remains staunchly Islamic. It would also illustrate that the secular tradition was worthless anyway, as Turkey would violate Syrian sovereignty to install unproven and undemocratic leaders.

4) Russian democracy should not be bought with Arab lives and in this case it cannot be. I do not believe Putin's election could not be meaningfully affected by action in regards to Syria.

You seem to forget that the UN was not created to bring us to heaven, but to save us from a reoccurence of WWII.

I see no reason to believe a new Syrian government based on the poorly understood leaders of the Free Syrian Army would be any less violent than the one currently in existance. There has been much speculation that it would be far, far less accomodating of minority groups including Christians and Jews. These arguments tend to be supported by the rise to prominence of the Muslim Brotherhood in other countries affected by the Arab Spring.

The Syrian government is terrible, inhumane and criminal, but global spectators seem to refuse to accept that the toppling of a dictator can lead to greater catastrophe.
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