Reading is hard sometimes. Reading about the news is even harder, given the fact that it’s usually soul-crushingly depressing.
Unfortunately that doesn’t make either any less important, so in a bold attempt to turn every well-intentioned, uninformed American into a mobilized, informed voter, I present to you: News For The Well-Intentioned, Semi-Informed Layperson
Syria-ously: Why Syria’s Civil War is Happening and Why It’s Gone on for Three Years
Since 2011, there has been a civil war going on in Syria (which is located right next to Iraq and really close Israel).
But first, some quick background on Syria: Remember last week when discussing Gaza, I mentioned how no one in Western Europe consulted the Tzar of Common Sense when establishing borders in the Middle East? Well that jackassery not only led to what’s going on in Gaza right now, but it also helped lead to a situation where Alawite (a form of Shia) Muslims, who make up only about 10–15% of the population, have somehow run things for 30 some odd years in Syria. Surprise: They weren’t great about playing nice to others (though Alawites Muslims are religiously moderate, so this isn’t a ‘religious extremism thing’, it’s more of a ‘government consolidating power and abusing its people’ thing).
And that’s been especially true since Bashar al-Assad took over power in 2000 when his father Hafez al-Assad, who modernized the country at the expense of its people during his 30-year rule, died. In 2013, the State Department said in their Country Reports on Human Rights Practices:
“The government has committed egregious human rights violations in an ongoing conflict that has claimed more than 100,000 lives, displaced millions, and created an opening for violent extremists that continues to endanger regional stability and our own national security.”
And those violent extremists have been actively rebelling since 2011 when the Syrian Army fired upon a collection of protestors, causing non-dead protestors around the country to turn into armed rebels. A variety of different armed rebel groups then united and have been engaged in an ongoing, bloody war against Assad and the Syrian government ever since.
Then things get a little crazy…
– ISIS, who you remember from before, is one of those armed anti-Syrian Government rebel groups and they’ve emerged as one of the major opposition forces, having captured tons of Syrian territory lately. However, as noted above, EVERYONE thinks these guys are crazy and they’re now fighting with other rebel groups like the Free Syrian Army and the Islamic Front.
– Russia, China, and Hezbollah (a Shia militant group based out of Lebanon) are backing Syria, mostly for political reasons.
– Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the US have been helping the rebel effort (even though the US essentially hates all their “rebel forces to support” options and is just going to screw itself whatever it does).
– The Syrian government is very blatantly committing mass human rights atrocities (including USING CHEMICAL WEAPONS ON THEIR OWN PEOPLE) and everyone knows it, but the rebels fighting them are also kidnapping, displacing, and killing innocent citizens as well.
– In June of 2014, Syria held a presidential election in government-held areas, and it was “the first time in decades that more than one name – just a member of the Assad family – has appeared on the ballot paper.” However, the other two candidates were basically mannequins and Assad miraculously won with 88.7% of the vote (coincidentally, this is the exact score you go for when cheating on a test in high school).
– Currently, ISIS and the Syrian government are mutually destroying one another, with updated death-toll and injury counts being posted daily.
A Summary of that Summary:
There is a 4-year old civil war happening in Syria thanks to oppressive government rule (led by someone named Basahar al-Assad) abusing its people for so long that they rebelled. ISIS is one of those rebel groups and they are fighting everyone, including other rebel groups. Russia, China, and Shia Muslim extremist groups are helping Syria. Qatar, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and the US are helping the rebel groups (only the US actually is terrified of all the rebel groups, but it’s a lesser of two evils kind of thing).
In One Tweet:
I'm canceling my Syrian vacation. #TakingAction
— marc maron (@marcmaron) August 29, 2013
A Reasonable Opinion To Have:
If you’re the US government, you’re sort of screwed on this one (again, the humanitarian aid is always on the table but hahaha). If you’re Joe World Citizen (cousins with Metta World Peace), you have to hope for a miraculous ceasefire that holds long enough for everyone to realize that we need to shake the Etch-A-Sketch that is the current Middle East layout.
What You Could Say To Sound Extra Smart:
Even if the rebel groups manage to win, their alliance is shaky at best thanks to relatively differing ideologies, meaning that once this current civil war is over, there could be a whole different era of in-fighting for power on the horizon.
A More In-Depth Article That’s Still Easy To Understand:
This cool animated video explanation courtesy of the Guardian:
Originally posted on The Daily Banter on August 26, 2014