Written by: Brittany Bartsch – Grade 10
It’s been over five years since the commencement of the Syrian Civil War. Five long, horrific years. What started out as a peaceful protest back in 2011 has turned into a nightmare, claiming the innocent lives of over 450 000 people and counting. With all of this violence, destruction, and sparks of global outrage over these past years, it raises a very paramount question: Will the war-torn country ever be able to recover from this?
What caused the conflict?
First of all, it’s important to fully understand the reality of what’s going on there and the reason behind it all. The Syrian Civil War all began in March 2011 in the city of Deraa. A few locals decided to protest the arrest of 15 schoolchildren for writing anti-government graffiti on a wall. Though the intention of this protest was simply to call for the release of the children and essentially for greater freedom for the people, the government did not respond well. On March 18th, 2011, the army shot the protesters, killing four of them. If that wasn’t enough, the very next day, they opened fire on the mourners of those four victims at their funerals, which killed yet another innocent. With the people shocked and angry, the chaos spread to the rest of the country. From there, the violence became so largely spread that it erupted into what we know now as the Syrian Civil War. The two major sides of the war are those defending the president and his views and those who aren’t. One of the main reasons that the war is still going on is because the protesters (also known as the rebels) have yet to get what they want, which is ultimately the resignation of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad.
To complicate things even further, in 2014, an extremist group known as ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) began to try and take over parts of the already chaotic country. They provoke terror and use violence against those who do not believe in their extreme views. With the disarray of the country, they were able to gain some land and power there. So, in brief, both sides of the war are also dealing with the conflict against ISIS and their extreme artificial views.
I believe that even though yes, everyone knows about the war and has an idea of what’s going on, most of us just shake it off or forget about it after a day or two. It crosses our minds a few times but most of us don’t think twice about it. In truth, having a reaction to such an imperative topic is something that needs to change. It may not be happening in our country, province or city, but by no means does that give us the right to be bystanders and act like everything is fine. We can’t not do anything about it just because we are not personally affected by it. Of course, I’m not saying you should take the next flight out to Syria to help those in need. I’m asking everyone for just a moment, to put yourself in their shoes and imagine how the life of somebody living in Syria right now feels like and what they go through every single day just to survive.
I recently watched a video of Lucy Aharish, an Arab-Israeli journalist discussing similar ideas (which is one of the main reasons I decided to write this article), and decided to share it with you. She has a powerful message to share across the globe that I hope will inspire anyone who watches it.
Just like what Lucy is saying, the conflict is something that most of us don’t want to deal with or even hear about, but the hard truth is that it’s happening. It’s happening whether we want to hear about it or not. We may not be affected by it because we do not live there, but that doesn’t change the fact that it’s still happening. We may not all be citizens of Syria, but we are citizens of the world. It is truly shameful to say that in a world like today we are being bystanders and watching blank-faced as the war continues to unfold without making any moves to help all the innocent people; people no different than you and I.
It’s unclear if the war will end anytime soon, but the damage and destruction has already been done. It will take decades for Syria to recover from this, so we can only hope that peace will be restored much sooner than later and that the country and its people can finally build itself up again.
Hopefully this article helped you thoroughly understand the reality of the situation that’s been going on there for the past few years and that you may think twice before scrolling past another Syrian news story on your social media feed.
BBC News: What’s happening in Syria?
Aljazeera: Syria’s civil war explained
News Deeply: ‘Syria won’t recover for decades’ – an expert’s view on the cost of war on the country
News 18: Synonym for ‘Hell’: explaining the Syria civil war