Sparks fly as Democrats and Republicans determine how much aid the US should provide to the Syrian refugees.
Spawned from the instability caused by the 2011 Arab Spring, anti-government groups like the jihadist members of the Islamic State (IS) have gained considerable influence in Syria, rebelling against the central government and controlling many swathes of territory.
Since then, Syrian citizens have been caught up in malicious counterattacks between the central government and opposing factions, which consist of both militant and rebel forces. Most recently, banned chemical warfare has resurfaced and is currently a government-employed method to strike at rebel forces. Over 9 million Syrians have left their homes–some detained in “tent cities” in Syria, 2.5 million fleeing into neighboring states like Lebanon, and now Europe. Over half of these refugees are children.
Many central European nations have been taking in refugees, and more nations are following in their footsteps. Germany was forced to introduce emergency border controls due to the huge flow of refugees–12,000 into Munich alone just last Saturday–despite its “free movement” policy which calls for an open border Schengen zone. German states and municipalities simply could not prepare quickly enough for influx of people; “It’s not primarily the number of refugees that is the problem, so much as the speed with which they’re arriving” says Sigmar Gabriel, Germany’s vice-chancellor. Germany predicts that 800,000 will arrive in the next year.
The US believes that it must also take part in mediating the crisis, as it sees itself as somewhat responsible for the instability of the region. Many claim that the withdrawal of US troops from Iraq in 2011 without leaving behind a stabilizing force allowed new rebel groups to rise up in the wake of disaster, including radical ideological organizations like ISIS. The historical blunder is one that the US wishes to amend.
These recent developments mark a nation’s struggles to maintain domestic security while being “compassionate.” Already, Germany must confront the issue of protecting a different people of a different nation without compromising the integrity of its own policies and practices. Now, the US hopes to extend its arms and embrace the common humanity that makes the Syrian refugees as important as the US’s own citizens. Most important of all, however, is that recent developments in Syria have made world leaders even more aware of the global impact of regional conflicts.
by Allison Huang ’17