A case against bombing Syria

By: Daniel Grondin

Other countries are already targeting ISIS in Syria
The crisis in Syria and the terrorist group ISIS seems to be the headline of every media source in the world. Since the Paris attacks, it's gone from a issue that was fairly in the background to one that has now taken centre stage. The big question is, what can be done to solve a crisis of this magnitude? 

To begin with, we need to get the background to how it all started. To do this, we need to go back to March 2011. A peaceful protest in Syria against the Assad regime, as part of the Arab spring, ended with government troops shooting at the demonstrators. Angered by this, a group called the 'Free Syrian Army' is formed. In July, this army of rebels started shooting back. Extremists from Syria and surrounding countries begin to travel to help the rebels, resulting in the beginning of the Syrian civil war. Knowing that many countries would attempt to back the rebels, Assad released some extremists from prison to join the rebels, in the hope that this would put off any international backing the rebels could receive. In January 2012, cracks start to appear in the 'Free Syrian Army'. Al-Qaeda formed it's own branch inside the rebels. The Kurds, who have longed for autonomy for many years, form their own group of rebels in the North of Syria. In June of the same year, the civil war becomes a proxy war. Iran intervenes and sends Assad daily cargo flights and provide hundreds of officers. The Gulf States, opposed to Assad, send money and weapons to the rebels (but mainly through Turkey in order to 'keep their cards close to their chest'). Hezebollah, a group backed by Iran, joins the war on Assad's side. The Gulf States respond to this by sending even more money and weapons to the rebels (although this time through Jordan). In April 2013, the United States of America becomes involved. No longer willing to let the Assad regime continue, the CIA are secretly ordered to train and equip Syrian rebels. They also urge the Gulf States to stop funding the extremist side of the rebels but are promptly ignored. In August, Assad begins using chemical weapons on his own citizens. The USA now respond publicly, informing the world that they will perform a targeted military strike on Syria. Russia now begins to get involved, urging Assad to hand over his chemical weapons to the international community for their dismantling in order to avoid a US strike. In late 2013, the training and weapons from the USA to the rebels finally reaches them. In February 2014, internal disagreements over Syria within rebel forces lead to a section breaking off. This section call themselves the Islamic State. They are spread across both Syria and Iraq and quickly become enemies with Al-Qaeda. This group no longer fights Assad but instead fight the rebels and the Kurds. They capture enough land within Syria to create their own state which they call their 'caliphate'. That summer, they invade Iraq, seizing even more territory. In September, the US reveals that it will instead focus it's bombing exclusively on ISIS instead of Assad. A new program is launched by the Pentagon to train rebels, but only those who are fighting ISIS, not Assad. The program fails. In August 2015, Turkey begins bombing the Kurds, even though they are fighting ISIS. Turkey also refuses to bomb ISIS. 1 month later, Russia finally becomes involved in military terms, promising to bomb ISIS. Putin eventually does this but first bombs rebels opposed to Assad and continue to do so. In November 2015. ISIS attacked Paris with 7 near-simultaneous attacks, leaving 150 dead and many more injured.

Let's analyse this step-by-step: Assad shot at the demonstrators way back in 2011 because, despite having a huge electoral mandate, he had seen what had happened to the leaders of other countries such as Gadaffi in Libya during the Arab Spring and decided that he couldn’t risk an attempted overthrow. This would, of course, anger many. Assad's plan of tinging the rebels with extremists was clever but, ultimately, useless. The war becomes a proxy war (a war instigated by a major power which does not itself become involved) when Iran and the Gulf states become involved. Iraq are allies with Assad so naturally support him and the gulf states are opposed to him so would obviously help his enemies. When the US becomes involved, the situation goes from bad to worse. Not only are they helping the rebels for no other reasons than they don't really like Assad, but they are training, financing and arming what would become ISIS. When Assad begins to use chemical weapons, the US know that they are now basically free to do whatever they like as most of the world is opposed to chemical weapons. Russia advises Assad to hand the chemical weapons over as they are allies with Assad and know that the US would enjoy nothing more than to turn their allies into dust. This support for the rebels creates ISIS. Within a year, ISIS have become a much bigger problem than Assad and were partially the USA's fault. The Kurds, who have been fighting both Assad and ISIS, were then attacked by Turkey for no particular reason apart from racial hatred.

The big question is, what can be done? To answer this, we need to know how ISIS recruits members. The general consensus is that they are made up of religious fanatics who want to convert everyone to their version of the religion of Islam and will kill anyone who gets in their way. Although this is true for a number of recruits, the reason that a lot join is different. Imagine that you go to the shops one day and you return home to find your house destroyed and your entire family, who were inside that house, dead. You are told that the US, UK, France, etc... did it and that there was an organisation called ISIS that would get revenge for you if you joined their ranks. These people have nothing left to live for, no one to love or care for and are filled with anger and hatred, so they join. The reason they join is because Western countries have bombed their country for years on end, killing thousands of civilians for absolutely nothing.

The way we have responded is, quite frankly, unbelievable. We are increasing the bombing. We are stuck in a 6-stage cycle. The first stage is 'Middle Eastern targets are destroyed and civilians die', the 2nd is that 'the behaviour of the Western allies angers the people whose lives have been destroyed', the third is 'some of these angry people join extremist groups', the fourth is 'Western based manufacturers supply weapons to the extremists', the fifth is 'extremists use the weapons to attack Western targets' and the final stage is that 'the Western Allies react by bombing Middle Eastern targets'. Then the cycle continues. It's the same with Iraq, with Afghanistan, with what looks like Syria and whichever place we decided we don't like next in 8-10 years time.

My solution is that neither bombing nor 'boots on the ground' will work and other tactics are required. Jurgen Todrnhofer is the only Western journalist to have ever been allowed access to ISIS and, due to that fact, I believe that he is someone who is worth listening to. He said that Western military intervention will "fill ISIS with joy" for 3 reasons. Firstly because for every bomb dropped, ISIS recruit more members. Secondly because most of the bombs dropped kill little to none ISIS members as they have no clue where to bomb and thirdly because ISIS' main desire is to have an all-out war on the ground with the Western allies. Taking away these factors, bombing would still be a bad idea, explained by Dennis Skinner's summary of the war, who said "Isn’t it essential in any prelude to a war to be sure of your allies and be sure of your objectives? Isn’t it a fact that Turkey has been buying oil from ISIS, they’ve been bombing the Kurds and the Kurds are fighting ISIS, they shot down a Russian jet even though Russia wants to fight ISIS. He has got an objective to get rid of Assad, our Russian ally has got the opposite objective. What a crazy war. Enemies to the right of us, enemies to the left of us – keep out!” Something else that has to be considered, no matter how inappropriate it seems when thousands are losing their lives: How, in times of deep austerity with cut after cut being piled onto the British public, do we suddenly have £10 billion to fund this bombing campaign?

What I propose, instead, is that the international community as a whole needs to come together and starve ISIS. Turkey and the Gulf States need to be stopped from trading with ISIS and any country that does so needs to face sanctions on a massive scale from every country in the world.
In the end ISIS can and will be defeated. However, while bombing may look good in the short-term, all it does is breed the next generation of terrorists. We need to think smart and break the cycle.



A case against bombing Syria A case against bombing Syria Reviewed by Unknown on 13:52 Rating: 5

9 comments:

  1. 'Stupid pacifist. You're clearly too afraid ISIS will fight back and don't care enough.' - Typical British Person Response

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    1. Haha.. Very true. ISIS will be more of a threat if we attack first because they gain members as people want revenge so will join them. By bombing them, we're giving them a reason to join and seek revenge.

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  2. * I have spelt autonomy wrong (I said anatomy) and said no instead of nor (bombing nor boots in the ground)

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    1. We've corrected these errors now, thanks.

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  3. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  4. A number of comments on this article have been removed for violating our comment policy (http://www.studentvoices.co.uk/p/comment-policy.html). Comments must abide by our comment policy and the law.

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