FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

The Suffering in Syria

The violent uprising in Syria has produced some predictable and sorry results.  Aside from the numbers of people dying prematurely as a result of the fighting, there are tens of thousands of Syrian civilians, consisting mostly women and children, both inside and outside of Syria who are suffering from the war.  This suffering does not choose sides, both opponents and supporters of the Asad government have become victims.  Their sympathies matter not as much as the amount of help they need, no matter whose side they’re on.

In the refugee camps in Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey, Syrians who have been driven from their homes by the fighting are not only near starvation, but are suffering from the cold weather with little help from warm clothing, kerosene for heaters, or any other comforts.  The international agencies are overwhelmed and are without enough money to feed and clothe them.

Inside Syria, commerce has come to a standstill.  Farmers have no money for planting seeds, and even so, there are no markets for the food they could produce even if given the money to plant and to harvest.  Trying to send produce to market, provided they have something to sell, is a suicide mission, as it’s much too dangerous to travel the roads.

My wife, who is of Syrian origin, and whose family are farmers, has learned that her siblings give whatever heating oil they can find to their mother so she can find some warmth.  Most Syrian civilians do what they can to help their neighbors and their families who are in need, but it’s more than a matter of money.  There simply is not enough bread and heating oil to go around, leaving a large part of the country wanting for the necessities of life.

The United States government has imposed sanctions on Syria, and, like most sanctions placed on someone perceived to be an enemy of the United States, only the population suffers, not the leaders who have displeased our government.  What is unconscionable is the punishment of a people who have had no beef with the United States.

And conceding that the Asad government is a dictatorship, the rebels that President Obama and Secretary Clinton are supporting are, with some exceptions, allied with Al Qaeda.  Our government’s grand pronouncement that we have withdrawn recognition of  one of the groups–the Al Nusra Front–because they are  radical jihadists is nothing more than hot air.  Despite this “non-recognition,” these jihadists as well as other jihadist groups are still fighting alongside the non-jihadists and the suffering of the civilian population continues.

At least, the Asad government insures equal rights for women, and does not interfere with the religious preference of Sryians.  The same cannot be said for the groups who are trying to overthrow the Asad government, as Syria would regress to the 13th century with a jihadist overthrow.  The Muslim Brotherhood, one of the jihadist groups seeking overthrow voices a slogan, “Alawites to the tomb, and Christians to Beirut.”  Alawites are an offshoot of the Shiite sect of Islam, and are more progressive than either the Sunnis or the Shiites.

As recently as two or three years ago, the people of Syria admired the United States.  A great many Syrians, like other Middle Easterners, have voted with their feet by trying to emigrate to this country.  I’m not sure that this is still the case, given the extreme suffering US policy has inflicted upon them.  Although it may not be widely known that our government is both arming and funding the rebels and the jihadists through Qatar and Saudi Arabia, it is no secret over there.  We have also sent troops to Turkey to man the missile batteries we have sent to Turkey.

Destroying the Asad government is a way for the United States to attempt to weaken Iran, but in the process our government is destroying the lives of countless numbers of Syrians who had, at one time, been friendly to us.

Not only has Syria never sent out any terrorists from Syria to damage the US, the Asad government a few years ago actually uncovered more than one secret Al Qaeda plots to damage American interests in the Middle East.  Asad turned over the information to the US government, which was then able to prevent the plots from coming to fruition.  Our government’s actions against Syria today bring forth a statement Gore Vidal once made, that, “no good deed goes unpunished.”

The United States government can bring an end to the suffering of Syrian civilians by ending its interference, first in Syria, then overall, throughout the Middle East, which not only costs us both too many lives and too much money but creates more enemies for this country.

JAMES ABOUREZK is a former U.S. Senator from South Dakota.  He is the author of Advise & Dissent: Memoirs of South Dakota and the U.S. Senate, a  memoir now available  on Amazon’s Kindle and soon to be republished by University of Nebraska’s Bison Press.  His email address is:  georgepatton45@gmail.com

This article will also appear in the February issue of Washington Report on Middle East Affairs.

More articles by:

James Abourezk is a former US senator from South Dakota. He is the author of: Advise and Dissent: Memoirs of an ex-Senator.

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550
Weekend Edition
July 19, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Rob Urie
The Blob Fought the Squad, and the Squad Won
Miguel A. Cruz-Díaz
It Was Never Just About the Chat: Ruminations on a Puerto Rican Revolution.
Anthony DiMaggio
System Capture 2020: The Role of the Upper-Class in Shaping Democratic Primary Politics
Andrew Levine
South Carolina Speaks for Whom?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Big Man, Pig Man
Bruce E. Levine
The Groundbreaking Public Health Study That Should Change U.S. Society—But Won’t
Evaggelos Vallianatos
How the Trump Administration is Eviscerating the Federal Government
Pete Dolack
All Seemed Possible When the Sandinistas Took Power 40 years Ago
Ramzy Baroud
Who Killed Oscar and Valeria: The Inconvenient History of the Refugee Crisis
Ron Jacobs
Dancing with Dr. Benway
Joseph Natoli
Gaming the Climate
Marshall Auerback
The Numbers are In, and Trump’s Tax Cuts are a Bust
Louisa Willcox
Wild Thoughts About the Wild Gallatin
Kenn Orphan
Stranger Things, Stranger Times
Mike Garrity
Environmentalists and Wilderness are Not the Timber Industry’s Big Problem
Helen Yaffe
Cuban Workers Celebrate Salary Rise From New Economic Measures
Brian Cloughley
What You Don’t Want to be in Trump’s America
David Underhill
The Inequality of Equal Pay
David Macaray
Adventures in Script-Writing
David Rosen
Say Goodbye to MAD, But Remember the Fight for Free Expression
Nick Pemberton
This Is Heaven!: A Journey to the Pearly Gates with Chuck Mertz
Dan Bacher
Chevron’s Oil Spill Endangers Kern County
J.P. Linstroth
A Racist President and Racial Trauma
Binoy Kampmark
Spying on Julian Assange
Rose Ramirez – Dedrick Asante-Mohammad
A Trump Plan to Throw 50,000 Kids Out of Their Schools
David Bravo
Precinct or Neighborhood? How Barcelona Keeps Rolling Out the Red Carpet for Global Capital
Ralph Nader
Will Any Disgusted Republicans Challenge Trump in the Primaries?
Dave Lindorff
The BS about Medicare-for-All Has to Stop!
Arnold August
Why the Canadian Government is Bullying Venezuela
Tom Clifford
China and the Swine Flu Outbreak
Missy Comley Beattie
Highest Anxiety
Jill Richardson
Weapons of the Weak
Peter Certo
Washington vs. The Squad
Peter Bolton
Trump’s Own Background Reveals the True Motivation Behind Racist Tweets: Pure White Supremacy
Colin Todhunter
From Mad Cow Disease to Agrochemicals: Time to Put Public Need Ahead of Private Greed
Nozomi Hayase
In Crisis of Democracy, We All Must Become Julian Assange
Wim Laven
The Immoral Silence to the Destructive Xenophobia of “Just Leave”
Cecily Myart-Cruz
McDonald’s: Stop Exploiting Our Schools
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Our Veggie Gardens Won’t Feed us in a Real Crisis
CounterPunch News Service
A Homeless Rebellion – Mission Statement/Press Release
Louis Proyect
Parallel Lives: Cheney and Ailes
David Yearsley
Big in the Bungalow of Believers
Ellen Taylor
The Northern Spotted Owls’ Tree-Sit
July 18, 2019
Timothy M. Gill
Bernie Sanders, Anti-Imperialism and Venezuela
W. T. Whitney
Cuba and a New Generation of Leaders Respond to U.S. Anti-People War
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail