What’s Going on in Syria?
This is our opportunity to get inside information about the present state of the conflict in Syria and to get all your questions answered:
• What brought this conflict about?
• Who are the three parties and what is each fighting to achieve?
• How does religion play into the region’s problems?
• How do outsiders play into the problems?
• Where do America’s responsibilities begin and end?
• What are the possible best and worse outcomes, and what will it mean for the people of Syria, for Middle East, and for us?
Photo above: Residents of Yarmouk, a suburb near Damascus, line up to receive food supplies after long months of siege.
Born in Syria, our own Mike Arbach is going to give us a brief history of the region and his perspective as one siding with the revolutionary forces.
Mike gives us this background on the Syrian situation:
Serving as a hub between three continents, the Middle East has been a target of interest for all major powers, ancient and modern. The diversity of religions which originated in this region and spread over the world increases the complexity of the region’s problems. And the recent discovery of oil in the region increases the interest of international powers hungry for energy resources.
Dominated by Arabs, the majority of the inhabitants until the end of the 11th century, the region has since been controlled by invaders. Syria sits at the heart of the Middle East, where it occupies not only a central geographical position, but serves as the link between the people of the region because its population includes all variations of nations and religions.
Syria as we know it today was formed as a result of an agreement between the United Kingdom and France, with the assent of Russia, to define a sphere of interest and control in the Middle East. This agreement dates back to May 1916, when the famed Sykes-Picot Agreement was signed. Syria is part of zone A under French control. Nearly a century later, the world has changed, and so has the balance of power.
What is happing now in Syria is to a large extend redistribution of control and interest in the region. To a large extent, clashing parties are dependent upon the external powers that support them — military, financially, and politically.
There are three major parties in the present Syrian conflict, each with its own distinctive makeup and motives:
• The Syrian government constitutes the prevailing, best organized party thus far. People on the government’s side support it because of the stable life it provides regardless of all its problems.
• The second party is a combination of the revolutionary forces. These are people looking for a pathway to a better country. They are fractures and waning.
• The third party is composed of radical Muslims, mostly Al Qeada-linked fighters who propose an Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. These people are fighting for the return of the Khelaf (successor) of Mohammed.
Mike Arbach was born in Syria in 1984, moved to Russia in 2002, earned a Bachelor degree in Science in 2009 from Peoples' Friendship University in Moscow. He currently works as an IT developer.
Come early at 6:45 to get a good seat and get to know people.
Afterward, let’s continue our conversations at the nearby Blue Moose.
Fred Heeren / [masked] / [masked]