Boston, MA- After nearly a month of cross border conflicts between Turkey and Syria, the world is wondering whether this conflict will resolve itself soon or if it will escalate into a full-fledged war. After interviewing three experts on the matter here’s what they had to say:
Middle East Correspondent Douglass Struck feels very optimistic about the situation between the neighboring countries and does not believe this conflict will go any further:
Ala Onur, from Istanbul does not think the conflict will even reach her city:
Political Communications student Anita Salakis, who is very familiar with the situation of this region hopes Turkey will abstain from entering Syria’s conflict:
Boston, MA- 11 days after the first attack produced on the Syrian-Turkish border international organizations are estimating a war will explode between the neighboring countries. The attack was produced on October 3rd, in the border town of Akçakale killing five civilians and injuring at least eight others.Syrian rebels have been occupying border towns throughout the entire revolution which is why the Syrian army has targeted the Turkish border. Throughout the entire year Turkey has called President Bashar Al-Assad, once a very strong ally to this country, to resign in order to avoid further bloodshed and destruction to the country. After the first attack multiple mortar bomb attacks have been produced in this border.
Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan called an Emergency meeting of the NATO council, to seek permission to take military actions against Syria. He says his response to Syria will be both military and diplomatic. Syria responded by saying that this regime produced attack was mean for the Syrian town Tal al-Abyad, however it fell on the wrong side of the border. Although Turkey has no interest in going to war with Syria, they will not take this border attack lightly and will go to any extent to protect their citizens. Erdogan warned Syria that Turkey will not shy away from war if provoked.
NATO responded to Turkey’s complaints by accusing Syria of Flagrant violations of international law. This attack was not an isolated event since it was followed by multiple cross border attacks from Syria to Turkey, to which the Turkish military responded by trading artillery fire. Tensions between the two countries have escalated dramatically in the past 10 days. After moths of hosting Syrian refugees in their country and bearing witness to the atrocities being committed in their neighboring country, Turkish leaders believe that a war between the countries may not be very far away.
Boston, MA- Originally from Damascus, Emerson College Professor Yasser Munif says he feels very skeptical about the fact that people now refer to the rebellions in his home country as a civil war. Munif believes that the Syrian uprising is part of The Arab Spring and is completely related to the events of its neighboring countries: Egypt,Libya and Tunisia. The reason why the Syrian Uprising has lasted longer is because, even though they hold common grounds with the Arab population, there is a Syrian specificity which is the fact that in his country the Military is part of the regime, and cannot rebel against the government like in Tunisia and Egypt. This is why it has been so difficult to overthrow President Bashar Al-Assad and also the reason why The Free Syrian Army was created.
“So far the main common ground Syria holds with its neighboring countries is the right kind of context, yet it lacks a weak ruling class and and organized opposition” says Munif who feels the reason why the uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt ans Libya was more successful than in Syria is because the country’s opposition is fragmented: “They don’t have a charismatic leader who is going to save them.” Another factor that has influenced the lack of success is their refusal to accept help from the west. This is also a big difference between Syria and Egypt since Mubarak was a French-Western idealist and Egyptians were looking for an independent Egypt; whereas Assad is Anti-Imperialist and completely against the west “the Syrian population doesn’t like the west but they don’t want Assad either, so that’s why its so tricky.” says Munif.
He hopes the regime topples soon since the longer the uprising lasts, the bloodier it will become and the worse the repercussions. However, he speculates that conflicts will end eventually since the Syrian government lost all its credibility when it rose against its own population:”As bloody as it has been, this is still just a rebellion against an oppressive regime not a Civil War.”
New York City- The 67th annual General Assembly meeting of the U.N. marked a very significant moment in history. It was the first time a democratically elected Egyptian President would address the United Nations. During the meetings, President Mohammed Morsi gave a very unapologetic Islamic view on current world events such as the Syrian civil war, the construction of a Palestinian state and the American film that denigrates Islam’s prophet Mohammed and mocks the Islamic religion.
Morsi referred to the situation in Syria as the “tragedy of the age” and urged all UN member nations to take action in helping opposition forces overthrow Bashar Al-Assad’s 40 dictatorship. He believes that it is time for Assad to step down since the conflict in Syria has been going on for over 18 months with an alarming death toll of 30,000 people making it one of the bloodiest conflict the Middle East has seen in a long time. He expressed that he is grateful that the Egyptian revolution- which made him the first democratically elected Egyptian President- was much more peaceful. Although Morsi feels Assad should resign, He is completely against foreign military intervention in Syria.
He then proceeded to talk about the inclusion of a Palestinian state in the UN with or without Israel’s agreement.The latter issue is one that has been under discussion for several years yet the Palestinians have yet to be awarded UN recognition due to the lack of a peace agreement with Israel. Recognition would be highly beneficial to the Palestinians since it would grant them the rights of an independent country. In no moment did he mention anything about Egyptian-Israeli relationships.
He finalized his UN debut by expressing his outrage at the popular, American-Produced anti-Islam video that has been going around the internet since he believes that freedom of speech does not give you the right to attack any religion or incite hate towards a religious group. He says the violent reactions shouldn’t come as a surprise to the US since they meddled with something they had no right to criticize. However he in no moment tried to justify the attacks to American embassies.
Boston, MA- It’s been over 18 months since the ending of the so called Arab Spring yet whether the aftermath of this movement was positive or negative is yet to be determined. The region is still going through convulsions that wont seem to be resolved in the near future, and turmoil seems to be returning with the series of attacks towards American organizations in the countries involved. In an interview with former Middle East correspondent Doug Struck, he stated that he doesn’t think the conflict will be resolved for the next 10 years, and that the roots of the crisis are much more economic than they are political. “The Arab Spring was much more than an effort to overthrow their authoritarian governments” said Struck “It was a reaction to the desperation of the people who did not see such a bright future ahead of them.”
Having lived in Cairo for five years during the first Gulf war in the early 90′s, Struck believes it is foolish to try and predict what will happen with these countries; but he does not see an Iran type regression to fundamentalist Islam in either Egypt or Tunisia. Both countries are very secular within Muslim Country standards with very high regards on women’s rights. He says that although the Muslim Brotherhood won in Egypt, they have a history of being very moderate and are not likely to impose religious laws on the Egyptian population. He also believes the reason why the Muslim Brotherhood won the elections in Egypt is because former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak never trusted the Brotherhood, which made the citizens of this country feel even more compelled to vote for them.
When asked his opinion about all the recent attacks to American embassies across the Middle East he said: “Its crazy to believe that after the fall of the dictatorships there wouldn’t be chaos. We shouldn’t be surprised that there is resentment towards the U.S. because they didn’t out these countries before” He states that the main problem the U.S has faced when dealing with Middle Eastern countries is that they usually only get to deal with the elite, who are very far removed from the actual situation of the rest of the country’s citizens.
About a year ago a young, Damascus-based Syrian Journalist wrote a very famous opinion piece for The New York Times where he explained that although the Syrian uprisings (it hadn’t been declared a civil war back then) had been going on for roughly 8 months the Syrian capital, Damascus seemed to be immune from any repercussions. While cities like Homs and Aleppo were partially destroyed and in a state of emergency, a year ago the attitude of the residents of Damascus would make you believe the conflict is occurring in another country. Even thought violence had yet to hit the capital, those in the villages surrounding it were actively participating in the movements and believed it would just be a matter of time before the conflict would reach the center of the city.
And just as predicted, the Damascene’s optimism about their city being immune to conflict was crushed by all the bombings there have been to major government institutions in the past 4 months. This including the bombing of a Military Headquarter in central Damascus that caused the death of Assad’s famous brother-in-law and Syria’s defense minister. According to Time Magazine the fight for the capital city has only begun, making it clear that conflicts in Syria are far from being resolved. What was once considered to be a sanctuary from the storm is now the part of the country that is most fought over.
There seems to be no way of stopping the war from reaching Damascus since about 18 government institutions are located in the center of the city, making it a very desirable target for the Sunni rebels seeking the exit of the Ba’Ath party and Bachar Al-Assad from the government. Its hard to believe that in a little over 6 months the capital city went from being far removed from the situation to being the center of the conflict
The year 2011 was one that defined a lot for North African countries such as Egypt, Tunisia and Libya. They beat the odds and rose up to their corrupt governments and were very successful at removing their leaders from power. However one particular country did not see such a glorious ending to their uprising. Following the examples of its neighboring countries, the Syrian uprising began on March 15th 2011 and is still ongoing. What was originally meant to be an uprising to force the resignation of president Bachaar Al-Assad became a full blown civil war. In April 2011 the Syrian government ordered to open fire at the Syrian population causing protests to become armed rebellions.
Now after a year and a half of unceasing conflict, one may wonder the dimensions of the tragedy that has occurred in this country. According to the Boston Globe nearly 30,000 people have died in Syria over the past year and a half. About 1.5 million find themselves homeless after the numerous bombings in the cities of Damascus, Aleppo and Homs. As many as 250,000 people have had to seek refuge in neighboring countries like Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan. About $350 million dollars have been spent in humanitarian aid yet about 1.5 million people are still in need of food and basic sanitary products.
The amount of damage caused by this war is beyond what the original protesters bargained for when the uprising started in 2011. About 2,000 schools have been destroyed and entire cities have been burned to ashes. However the U.N. does not see an easy way out of this war due to Assad’s refusal to hand over the presidency.