A Project for Better Journalism chapter
News

U.S. led airstrikes on Syria stirs up many questions and concerns

On April 14, the United States, along with allies France and Great Britain, launched airstrikes on the Syrian capital of Damascus. These airstrikes were a response to the chemical attack in Damascus the week before, which killed more than 40 Syrian people and has been alleged to be carried out by the country’s president, Bashar al-Assad.

The strikes targeted, and thus hit, three of President al-Assad’s chemical facilities that were suspected to be used for the production of such weapons like the nerve agent sarin, although foreign news outlets have stated that one of the targets was actually a civilian pharmaceutical and chemical research laboratory. Workers at the lab claimed that they were producing antidotes to scopirin and snake venom. If chemical weapons were held there, many civilians would have died due to exposure and others would need to be evacuated.

The missiles’ landed around 4AM on Saturday alerting the Syrian people and the government were warning them of “American Aggression’’. The Syrian government even reported that their air defense stopped 13 incoming missiles, but American officials have yet to corroborate those reports.

President Trump himself has defended the strikes with his many tweets, slamming the alleged actions taken by President al-Assad. Tweets leading up to the airstrike had President Trump calling the Syrian president a “Gas Killing Animal” and the chemical attack itself a “barbaric act”.

President al-Assad has denied all the allegations of him chemically attacking his own people and has accused Syrian rebels for the the attack.

The attack has generally been praised by the mainstream media, and the strikes have also sparked many questions on its justification. For one, the airstrikes were ordered a day before an international team of investigators were going to arrive at Syria to investigate the chemical attack. Another point that isn’t as stressed is the fact that Syrian rebels are in possession of chemical weapons, and getting the U.S. involved in their civil war with Assad could lead to him being overthrown.

The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) finally arrived at the the attack site in Douma on April 21, over two weeks after the chemical attack. Even though the investigation is in its infancy, it has been alleged that Russian forces have breached the site and tamperped some evidence. Russia has denied this accusation.

Another main concern of striking Syria is raising tensions between the United States and Russia. With Russia being very pro-Assad and anti-regime change, the world’s two superpowers being on opposing sides has thoughts of nuclear war becoming a potential outcome swarming.

After the Saturday morning strikes, Russian officials have described the attack as “an act of aggression against a sovereign state.” Russian President Vladimir Putin warned that there would be “consequences” for the military action taken against himself and Assad. They have even claimed that the chemical attack was staged.

Foreign media outlets had also reported that Russian warships were spotted at the Syrian port of Tartus and are allegedly military and humanitarian supplies to Syria.

It’s not only the potential of another World War that the U.S. is facing with Syria, but how our country has been down this exact road more than once.

Over a decade ago, former President George W. Bush spouted rhetoric on how the former dictator of Iraq, Saddam Hussein, possessed “weapons of mass destruction”. Those claims, along with accusing Saddam of working with Al Qaeda, led to an invasion of Iraq and no “weapons of mass destruction” were found. The invasion of Iraq left the country destabilized, cost the U.S. trillions, and left the country vulnerable to be taken over by Islamic extremists.

U.S. intervention continued into the Obama administration, with U.S.-led NATO bombing of Libya. Since Libyan dictator Muammar al-Gaddafi’s assassination, the country now suffers from instability, anarchy, and fractured militia rule. The country also has an ongoing slave trading problem, which mostly includes refugees trying to reach Europe.

As of 2017, the Iraq War has resulted in the death of 4,520 U.S. soldiers and hundreds of thousands of civilians have died since U.S. invasion of Iraq. With Parkdale having military lifestyle promoting programs, like the Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps ( JROTC), it’s quite necessary to know how students who plan on going into the Armed Forces after high school feel about this conflict in which they could potential be involved.

Sophomore Brad Martinez expressed that he would be willing to fight for the U.S. against the Syrian government because “Syria may feel like a threat to the United States.”

However, Martinez still expressed some caution when being informed that the conflict could lead to a broader war with Russia.

“I’m sure if the airstrikes continue Russia will be tired of the constant attacks,” said Martinez.

Junior Chris Matudan echoed the same stance as Martinez on serving in a potential conflict with Syria.

“I do agree with the U.S., France, and United Kingdom in their decision to airstrike on Syria”, said Matudan. “I’m willing to fight in a war against Syria because chemical weapons were used on its own people. And like who would hurt their own citizens?’’

Dating back to the late 1940’s, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) supported a military coup against the Syrian president Shukri al-Quwatli in other to get a truce between the U.S.’s ally, Israel, and Syria. The CIA also to supported the coup to get the Trans Arabian Pipeline to be allowed through Syria, a pipeline supported by U.S. and ally Saudi Arabia.

History also seems to be repeating itself as right now, two potential oil pipelines are being proposed, and they both go through Syria.

The first one is backed by the U.S. and starts in Qatar, goes through Saudi Arabia and Jordan, then ends at Syria. The second pipeline is backed by Russia and starts with it’s ally Iran, goes through Iraq, Turkey and Syria, then settles in Europe.

This situation has caused many people to speculate that the war isn’t about overthrowing a tyrannical government, but it is instead a war over the control of the world’s oil.

Whether Assad committed the chemical attack or not,  the Syrian leader has been condemned for torturing, dropping bombs on defenseless civilians, and a number of other civil rights violations that have killed tens of thousands of his own people.

During this exact month last year, the U.S. fired a 59 Tomahawk cruise missile at a Syrian airbase in response to a chemical attack on the rebel-held town of Khan Sheikhun.

The Syrian government has been in an ongoing civil war against rebels, which includes the Islamic State (ISIS), since 2011. The civil war has displaced millions and has caused refugees to flood into Europe.

Although recently the Syrian government has been winning the civil war, before the chemical attack, President Trump said the U.S. would start withdrawing soldiers from Syria.

Sources:
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/apr/07/us-airstrikes-on-syria-donald-trump-what-we-know-so-far

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5618609/Russian-ships-laden-tanks-seen-Bosphorus-en-route-Tartus-Syria-led-air-strikes.html

https://www.hindustantimes.com/world-news/at-destroyed-syria-lab-workers-say-they-produce-antidotes-to-snake-venom-not-toxic-weapons/story-e2OIzVf2RqPMMuRK0XdK0H.html

http://abcnews.go.com/International/us-credible-evidence-russia-syria-sanitizing-alleged-chemical/story?id=54592998

https://www.nationalreview.com/2018/04/syria-strikes-trump-administration-message-unclear/

Google+