The fight continues on. The conflict remains fueled. The struggle that has spread throughout African and the Middle Eastern countries has transpired differently in Syria. When glances fall upon Syria, visions of democracy and dreams of freedom are not found, for nightmares of violence, civil uprisings and militant strength have had a full-fledged takeover of the land.
“Syria, by contrast, is hurtling even deeper into an all-out conflict with no end in sight, and all we get is words,” said Yasser Abu Ali, a spokesman for one of the Free Syrian Army battalions.
The rebels, in the midst of one of the bloodiest and most gruesome civil wars ever seen, have requested aid in the form of a no-fly zone as well as a supply of weapons that can be used in response to the regime’s superior firearms. By creating a no-fly zone similar to that which occurred during the Libyan uprising, they hope to create the same circumstances that resulted in Moammar Gaddafi’s defeat. Unfortunately, the Syrians believe their cries for help are only being met with silent indifference. Abu Ali displayed the anger placed upon American for its lack of help, saying, “America will pay a price for this. America is going to lose the friendship of Syrians, and no one will trust them anymore. Already we don’t trust them at all.”
However, this snap towards America is unwarranted, for it is not true that America is ignoring the pleas of the Syrian civilians. President Obama has provided nonlethal aid such as communications and satellite equipment and he has made many efforts to identify potential allies inside the country. Opposition leaders have received financial aid to buy weapons from United States allies, Saudi Arabia and Qatar. Although assistance has been provided, it is dwarfed by the swift expansion of violence which now encompasses the entire country. The Syrians feel they can only count on themselves, thus producing hostility to those who they see as “refusing” their inquiries for aid. The older brother of 11 year-old Abdel Rahman Sabha, who was injured by a missile in the battle for control of al-Bad, stated angrily, “America and the West could have prevented this. They are able to help us, but they don’t want to. They don’t have the courage or the intention.”
With this hostile attitude growing rapidly, it appears America should be highly concerned of the repercussions it can produce. Currently, al-Qaeda-influenced jihadis are working to establish a presence in Syria; therefore, an anti-American form of Islamism could and will likely dominate the thoughts of disillusioned Syrians. Andrew Tabler of the Washington Institute of Near East Affairs says the United States should be cautious and highly-selective when providing arms to rebels. He warned that if they do not make sure the groups support America’s intentions, “the political entity that comes to power is not going to be in U.S. interests.”
In the end, however, some are hoping the lack of outside aid will make it easier for citizens to build a new Syria on their own. As Syria begins to close off and increase in hostility to other countries, America should wisely take actions with a focus on the possible detrimental consequences it could face.
Information for this post was provided from the Washington Post article, “Syrian Rebels Feel Abandoned, Betrayed by U.S.”
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Written by Jessica Ewing, Davidson College