Fire In the Tunnel – Finding Our Way Out of Syria

How do we get out of this tunnel? Is there a light at the end of it? Well right now there are actually a lot of lights in the tunnel, fires, but that’s certainly not a good thing.

There are many proposed, discussed, and presented, routes to success in the conflict of Syria, ISIS, and the rebels, but none have been successfully executed to this point.

Amongst discussions with classmates, parents, and teachers about the role of the world in the Syrian crisis, there are endless questions that arise.

  • Is there a non-violent solution to this conflict?
  • What is the ‘best’ way to end this conflict? What would ‘best’ mean?
  • Is what we, as Canadians, are doing effective(helping the rebel forces and now withdrawing air strikes)?
  • Which side are we on? Is it the right one?
  • Do we fight fire with fire, or with water?

To some, this conflict might even seem irrelevant as we, as young Canadians, sit on the other side of the planet, largely unaffected by the catastrophe that is tearing apart the teenagers of an utterly different world. However, as refugees come closer and closer to us and we may now even come face to face with them in our own communities, there is no denying our involvement in this conflict.  In fact, our very efforts in welcoming these war-torn civilians into our homes makes it even more important for us to consider what our actions mean overseas. Even greater, it forces us to remember that we are not uninvolved in this fight and we cannot become uninvolved, because these people are now our family and friends, they are us. We do not abandon ourselves.

In addition, our actions now, though they may seem unapparent to the average citizen here in Canada, could greatly impact our lives in the future: one, five, even ten years down the road. This war is a fight between morals and beliefs and if we want our world to remain the way it is now, we have no choice but to act.

As was shown in November when terrorists attacked various public locations in ‘the city of love’, there are people in this world who believe in different things than we do, some of which are unthinkable to our culture. Not everyone believes the same thing, and it is imperative that we do not generalize or stereotype in this fight, but we must not sit around and do nothing either whilst out own people get torn apart and ravaged. That is simply not humane.

That being said, maybe our actions right now shouldn’t be actions at all. Perhaps for the time being to act is to think. For, this war has been active for over five years now, and with the definition of insanity looming over our own heads, might it be time to start pouring water onto the flames?

This, as it happens, is what our new Prime Minister has begun to do, one could say. Mr. Trudeau has at this time removed all air-strike actions on Syria and the surrounding combat regions. Throwing it back to Paris, Mr.Trudeau himself in fact made it important to get French President Hollande’s blessing before proceeding in this course as Hollande had recently encouraged all Allied Forces to apply more airstrikes specifically. Here his actions were influenced by the recent events at the heart of his people. This had obviously brought on a new sense of urgency and emergency as it was effecting them directly. But is that the right way to go about this? If a bunch of people are killing a bunch of our people, does that make it okay for us to kill a bunch of theirs?

Another perspective in the Kurdish Allies of Canada stated that Trudeau’s new actions were “bad news”. Their opinion is likely influenced by the fact that they were directly benefiting in support from the air strikes and their physical presence in their conflict region. They will no longer have this backing from the Canadian Forces, but then again they might get some new partners soon.

Canadian Forces will continue to be active in supporting and training rebel troops in Syria. As for whether those are the right people to be supporting is another question. Situations are becoming more and more complex and intertwined as new colours emerge on the palette of the Middle East, and interests and purposes mix just the same. The side on which we believe is moral or right may not be as easy to pick out, and when the tensions of war are ever-present, the task is again more difficult.

A viewpoint that might side with Mr. Trudeau’s recent actions, is the Christian community. An article about the conflict in the Sojourners magazine, “a progressive monthly publication of the Christian social justice organization Sojourners” according to Wikipedia, that claims itself a “Faith in Action for Social Justice” organization, focuses on finding non-violent solutions. They agree in that they do not want air strikes to continue as the chemical weapons being used in the regions could be set off by explosions. This would and is killing thousands of people. It also becomes difficult in the heat of battle, they point out, to locate the source and initiators of any chemical warfare. The Sojourners also propose a “humanitarian safe zone” or a no-fly zone. Again these would look to protect the most possible human lives within our control.

This perspective comes from the humanitarian root of the Christian community, and thus respecting all lives. Their goal is, though they recognize it is extremely complicated, to talk our way out of war peacefully with the various parties involved. This as it seems is a daunting and more and more seeming unlikely task, but is it still worth a shot?

Then you can throw in the major world players of the United States and Russia.  Now Putin and Russia are likely looking at a military option of dismantling the violent organizations. One article on Newsweek presented that Putin “wants… Washington and the West to face a binary choice: Bashar the Barrel Bomber or Baghdadi the False Caliph.” From this you could guess that he is going to militarily and aggressively attack the chosen region and take them once and for all out of the picture. One must add however that that will be easier said than done, as we can now see through Paris that the organizations are not solely isolated to those regions.

Lastly, you now throw in the changing picture of the U.S. government and what the threat of Trump in that image brings. How would Trump do sitting at a table bartering for the lives of millions of people? Would he care about each individual one? Or would he throw himself into a big picture scenario and pick out what he thinks is that fastest way to dis-involve and save the U.S.

His point of view is to ” bomb “the shit” out of the Islamic State”, according to Foreign Policy In Focus .org. This is obviously a very right wing perspective, not so much focused on the humanitarian rights of individuals but seeing the benefit for his side.

Trump also views that refugees should not be allowed out of the regions they come from.  Going back to the Paris attack, a French Affiliate stated that at least one of the attackers in that instance entered the country with refugees. This acts as evidence for Trump’s perspective in protecting his own people at home.  He proves his point by stating how “We are the worst when it comes to paperwork.” when discussing how the Western world really doesn’t know who each of these individuals are when they enter.

So after much thought and deliberation there is now simple way out of this. You can see that even the most radical views have their benefits, and some of the reasons for the people we trust can be wavering. Ethically it is important that we respect the lives of each person as ourselves, but physically that is hard to put in to play. Might there be a point at which we do have to see the bigger picture, and solely that? Not looking at one live and the next but the tally of lives over years? The thoughts of this very task is horrific and terrorizing but it’s ultimately where we stand, and unless something drastically changes soon, we could be in it for the long haul. At this point it seems to be the direction we’re headed, we just keep throwing matches onto the flame, and that is clearly not working.

2 thoughts on “Fire In the Tunnel – Finding Our Way Out of Syria”

  1. Nicely summarized, Anne! You do a great job here of sharing a variety of perspective on the quagmire that is the western relationship with Syria (or at the least the tip of the iceberg!).

    Something that I wanted to add is that the argument that one of the terrorists in Paris had arrived with Syrian refugees has (at last I heard) been refuted:

    “French investigators fear that the apparent “planting” of the passport is part of a sophisticated propaganda war being waged by Isis. “There are three possibilities,” one source said. “He is the man whose name is on the passport. He was a false refugee, travelling on a false passport. Or he is someone else and a false passport was deliberately left there to sow confusion.”

    “In all three cases, Isis appears to have set out to stoke popular anger against Syrian migrants as part of their campaign to foment anti-Muslim feeling.”

    1. This is very interesting, thank you for bringing it up. I totally agree and in any case like this sources become largely the most important aspect of understanding but can also be the least important. It is such a war not only physically but also electronically in the modern world for accurate information and as my dad says his dad told him when he was young “You can never trust anything you hear”, or at least not fully all of the time. When it becomes so difficult to obtain reliable information this can flip and become virtually the least important part of research and understanding. It becomes more about specifically that, personal understanding. I believe it becomes more important for each individual to develop their own opinion and put together what they believe based on multiple sources, as it is important to be informed. No one can ever know everything that is occurring in the entire world at one time, at least not yet, and that is why it becomes so difficult, but that is also what makes the world real.

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