The Syrian situation is very complicated; although, the war is technically between two opposing positions, lots of other parties are involved due to their relationships with these positions. Here is a simple breakdown of exactly who is fighting in Syria, what they are fighting for and what countries are supporting which side.
The cause of the conflict is the presidency of Bashar al-Assad, who got his job because he is the son of Syria’s last ruler.
Al-Assad was abusing his power and enforcing very restrictive laws, so people started protesting. Al-Assad responded by killing, raping and torturing activists and their family members, many of whom were elderly women and children.
This was when the sh*t hit the fan.
Rebels starting fighting back against the government, which responded with more mass killings at the hands of the Syrian military and its civilian supporters. Before the world knew it, so much violence had erupted that all forms of diplomacy and order went out the window.
Syria became a lawless war zone, allowing Islamic Jihadists (crazy Muslims who want the whole world to be governed under Islamic law and are willing to kill for it) to creep in and to take control of the many newly unsupervised towns.
The jihadists don’t really care about what al-Assad wants, they just want to use this ungoverned country as an opportunity to expand their power and to recruit more people.
So now we have the rebels who want al-Assad out of power, the Syrian government and its supporters who want al-Assad to stay in power, and the Islamic Jihadists who just want to make this dystopian mess of a country into their own kingdom.
Still with me?
Now comes the tribal and religious aspects of the civil war. Most of the people in Syria are of the Sunni Muslim sect, but the government is run by a minority sect called the Alawites.
Then there are the Shi’ites, who are on the side of the government for two reasons: one, they don’t get treated as terribly as the Sunnis and two, they are backed by a country that sells weapons to Syria, which is Iran.
Iran gives weapons to a militant group of Shi’ites called Hezbollah, who have been trying to wipe the Sunnis and the Jews off the Earth for many years. There aren’t many Shi’ites living in Syria, but Hezbollah brings in a ton of them from Lebanon and Iran to assist the Syrian military and its supporters.
There’s a sh*tload of other religious sects living in Syria and killing each other for no reason, but the Sunnis and the Shi’ites are the two largest sects that are at war with each other over their beliefs and political alignment.
Another civil war between the Sunnis and the Shi’ites is brewing in Iraq as well.
But this brings us to the different countries involved in the war. As I said before, Iran sells weapons to Syria and Hezbollah (and probably a lot of the jihadists too: ca-ching!) so they are aligned with al-Assad. But the majority of Syria’s advanced weaponry comes from Russia.
Russia may seem civilized because it is so big and wealthy, but in case you haven’t noticed as of late, it is run by a bunch of ill-tempered, super-conservative douchebags who don’t understand the separation between church and state and think gay people are evil.
The U.S. is only involved because last week, an unknown source that we think is the Syrian government launched a horrific chemical attack on a rebel-controlled suburb that killed almost 2,000 people, hundreds of whom were children.
That’s too many dead kids for us to ignore. The United Nations’ rules for war state that anyone who uses chemical weapons should be punished by having these weapons destroyed because chemical weapons, as we saw, cause massive amounts of unnecessary death.
The Syrian government blamed the chemical attack on rebels, but we think al-Assad is responsible because we know his government has bought chemical weapons and we can’t imagine how any rebels could have gotten a hold of chemical weapons in addition to the rockets needed to carry them.
But at this moment, no, we do not have concrete evidence that the Syrian government was behind the attacks. This is why we still aren’t 100% sure if we should punish al-Assad by destroying a great deal of his artillery.
Because of this lack of evidence, England, who originally said would back up a strike on Syria’s weapons arsenal, now has reversed its position. France and Israel are still with us, though.
At this very moment, the U.S. has missiles aimed at Syria, ready to strike whenever the White House gives our military the green light. We’ve also got submarines, war planes and missile defense systems waiting for the event of a counter-strike from Syria, which we will deter with the help of France and Israel and whoever else wants to help.
While a strike from the U.S. could influence a myriad of events, the very purpose of the strike is simply to destroy these chemical weapons so we might just lay off Syria afterwards unless we find out they have been used again.
President Obama has repeatedly stated that he doesn’t want to physically put any of our troops on the ground to try to overthrow al-Assad because it would be expensive, lengthy and the air defense systems Syria got from Russia would make flying soldiers over there very dangerous.
What we’re mainly worried about is what big scary Russia will do to keep al-Assad in power. Russia is technically an ally of ours, and while chemical weapons may be out of the picture, they might just help al-Assad literally butcher everything in sight if our strike in anyway threatens his rule.
Iran has told us that either Iran or Syria will attack Israel in response, but that’s honestly something we’re not too worried about because Israel also has some amazing defense systems and could easily turn both of those countries into parking lots (with our help) if they feel threatened.
But the aforementioned scenario of our strike only bringing upon more violence in Syria is what we fear most. We can’t afford to get into another situation like Iraq or Vietnam, which is why lots of people think the best idea would be to do nothing at all, so we won’t have anything to risk.
This is a conflict this country has found itself in over and over again. Do we want to risk getting into another commitment by trying to fix another country that isn’t us or do we want to just let more innocent people die in front of our eyes?
There’s no right answer, but we can all most definitely agree that at this point in history, our economy is a lot more important than our image and moral compass.