Syrians need American assistance

Lee McClelland

Tensions the world over are on the rise, and the United States is being looked to for answers.

This election season, Iran has dominated the discussion when it comes to foreign policy. Both Mitt Romney and Barack Obama agree that America, and the world, cannot allow Iran to obtain a nuclear weapon.

Yet, with tensions rising within Syria, between Turkey and Syria, and with Russia, perhaps it would be beneficial to analyze the strife in the Near East and see where political lines are being crossed, as well as the metaphorical ones prominent in American-political rhetoric.

Iran’s economy has been hampered by the United Nations-placed sanctions. According to Reuters, the Iranian rial’s value has fallen by 50 percent since the same time last year, and by a 25 percent since last month.

The Iranian people are now suffering, unable to afford necessities. Shortages of chicken spur riots, and protesting has begun to emerge. The Iranian people do not want a nuclear weapon, and with less than a year left in Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s presidential term, things are looking up.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) estimates that Iran may have the 19.75 percent enriched uranium by spring or summer of 2013 at the earliest. This would be enough for one warhead. Lack of funds due to the economic sanctions may buy even more time.

Either way, it is clear that Israel and America will not wait for an atomic bomb to be available to the Iranians. Once the 20 percent mark is reached, military action will likely ensue.

The thought of the Islamic Republic of Iran, a Shia dominated theocracy, having a nuclear weapon has kept the world on its toes but so has the conflict in Syria.

The civil war in Syria rages on, and every day, more complications arise.

In the past six months, the United States has conferred with other world powers on what steps to take regarding the conflict in Syria.

According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights news release on Saturday, Oct. 13, at least 33,082 people have died—1,000 of them in the past five days.

The current president of Syria, Bashar al-Assad, has waged a war of desperation since March 2011. The rebel faction, the Free Syrian Army (FSA), has been making in-roads, but lately has been pushed back by a resurging Syrian-military force.

The remaining Syrian army is composed of a tested, loyal bunch, most of whom are part of a Shai sect of Islam called Alawite.

The Alawite are the minority religious group in the region, and they have isolated themselves from the Sunni-Muslim majority as well as the Christian minority.

The Kurdish population has unified on the side of al-Assad, occupying a small region of Syria where a branch of the Kurdish Workers Party (PKK) has taken control of a growing autonomous community.

The Syrian people have been reduced to factions based on religious affiliation and ethnic lines drawn in the blood-soaked soil, and still there is no word of international involvement in this situation.

Of course, the United States has expressed their strong opposition to al-Assad’s actions, but the cost of military involvement (during an election season) could be too high in regards to political and financial resources.

The Republic of Turkey, a close ally of the United States, was hit by Syrian motor attack in Akcakale, Turkey on Wednesday, Oct. 3, that resulted in the deaths of five people.

Already incensed by al-Assad’s support of the branch associated with the PKK and the furthering of poor relations with the Kurdish minority, the Turkish government retorted with mortar shellings of their own, which killed seven Syrian soldiers.

Turkey recently forced a Syrian plane to land after it was suspected the craft was transporting Russian weapons. This has escalated tensions between the two. Both have closed their air space to one another.

Turkey has a Sunni-Muslim majority, whereas Syria has a government ruled by the Alawite al-Assad. Iran is an ally to al-Assad, and Russia is still supplying Syria with weapons while exerting its power on the UN Security Council so that no sanctions come against al-Assad’s fragile government.

In short, the United States supports Turkey, a country that is on the brink of war with Syria. Syria is an ally of Iran, and any action taken against Syria could worsen diplomatic relations with Iran, which have constituted of terse conversations as of late.

Iran doesn’t have the bomb yet. Russia does and has recently decided not to renew a 21-year old agreement with the United States, which ensured that Russia would dismantle its extensive stockpile of nuclear weapons. There is nothing scarier than a nuclear Russia or an angry Vladamir Putin.

With so many lines of foreign policy crossed, how will Mitt Romney or Barack Obama avoid a major military engagement abroad?

I do not think there is any alternative. Iran doesn’t have a bomb yet, and sanctions weaken them everyday as the Syrian army grows stronger.

Russia cannot keep promoting the dissolution of the Syrian government, a shameless blood bath of religious cleansing, the death toll of which will only rise.

The UN has been adamant, as has the United States, that the line in the sand for Syria is the use of chemical weapons, yet atrocities are already occurring without them.

The Syrian conflict needs to be addressed by the United States. Syrians are writhing in anguish in every headline.

When genocide is taking place, someone needs to step in.

Be it election year or not, the United States needs to mobilize the UN and address the atrocities being committed in Syria.