The threat of chemical attacks is a very real and very lucid reality – by the very nature of the weapons in question their usage is often considered to be the most destructive, almost underhand, form of warfare. Such is the current issue in Syria; the recent conflict having left the state entirely open to bloodshed of any form – including chemical. And now the time has come, for Syria at least, that President Obama and Prime Minister David Cameron have said that enough is enough if it emerges that chemical weapons were used in Syria in the last week of violence.
The pair spoke on the phone on Saturday and both expressed their grave concerns over the allegations of chemical warfare being conducted in the Syrian state; Cameron’s office stated that there were signs the attack was ‘carried out by the Syrian regime’.
So what is the current crisis? The Syrian Civil War, which has also popularly become known as the Syrian Uprising, is an on-going conflict that began in the early months of 2011.The conflict is a face-off between the Syrian population and their leaders; the war sees members of the public fighting against President Bashar Al-Assad and the Arab Socialist Ba’ath Party, the political group that has been in power since the early sixties.
…1.8 million who have been forced to migrate away…
To date the death count for the conflict has surpassed 100,000 with about half of this number having been civilians. By the end of 2012 there had been at least issing and atop of these already staggering statistics, the UN has reported an estimated 4 million civilians who have been displaced by the conflict, and a further 1.8 million who have been forced to migrate away from the crisis.
The Arab league, a North African coalition of twenty-two countries including the original six: Egypt, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Transjord28,000 people who had gone man and Iraq, that aims to maintain and build closer relationships between the Arabian states, the Unites States and European Union have all condemned the government’s use of violence and the Arab League have even gone so far as to exclude Syria from their group for the time being and replace them with the newly founded Syrian National Coalition, a coalition of groups in opposition to the current regime.
…granted sweeping powers of arrest and detention…
As a nation, Syria has long been a country subject to war, with the last few years having been marked with almost continuous events of bloodshed and with the last forty years having been lived almost exclusively in a state of ‘emergency rule’, a system of government wherein military, security and police forces were granted sweeping powers of arrest and detention; the usual human rights of free speech, expression and assembly were closely monitored and even before the beginning of the conflict civil rights activists were imprisoned and tortured for their beliefs. Furthermore, under this state of ‘emergency rule’, thousands of Syrian Kurds were denied citizenship with their children continuing to be labelled as foreigners in their own countries.
Many spectators have pin-pointed the Tunisian riots as a catalyst for the protests that began across the Arab states, with Syria, Egypt and Libya all revolting against their leaders, although, to date, Syria is the only country to have truly moved into a state of Civil War. And so the conflict in Syria has slowly escalated, from the protests that began in 2011 to the open war that is being conducted today. It is easy to trace the growing tension but even so it is always difficult to watch as the conflict carries on today; as I mentioned before, the conflict to date has claimed the lives of around 50,000 civilians, and the unfortunate and terrifying truth is that many of those killed have been children, young families perhaps that had nothing to do with the conflict at all. So often it seems that the real casualties in war are those who have no wish to be there – too often, in fact, this is the very case.
…France have threatened that the use of chemical weapons would result in ‘massive and blistering response’…
As a country, Syria is thought to have the third largest stockpile of chemical weapons in the world and opposition forces are, for very good reason, worried that the government may use them as a last-resort method of retaining their power. Over the years countries have made it very clear their feelings on the use of these weapons; in 2012 the US stated that the use of these weapons was a ‘red line’ for the Ba’athist regime and that the use of these weapons would result in ‘enormous consequences’, similarly France have threatened that the use of chemical weapons would result in ‘massive and blistering response’. And that is why the idea of chemical warfare has been such an issue in recent news; with Western states all claiming to be incredibly ready to respond to any chemical attack it is a very tenuous state that the Syrian government currently finds itself in.
In the past months there have been several attempts to verify the nature of several attacks, with the conclusion each time being that the evidence presented has not been strong enough to force the hand of those who feel ready to respond. But it is very possible that recent events signify the tightening of the net.
…victims of the attack convulsing…
Of course, it is possible that the consistent reporting of chemical attacks could be a strategy employed by opposition forces to bring outside forces into the conflict, but the likelihood of this seems narrow.
The most recent report, received on the 21st of August, claims that at least 653 people have been killed by a nerve gas attack in the Eastern Ghouta region of Syria. Along with this report, there were a number of unverified videos that seemed to show victims of the attack convulsing, and also a report that UN investigators had been barred from leaving their lodgings.
The truth is that in light of these recent events it seems all too clear that chemical weaponry is in use within the Syrian state. Perhaps now is the time that the UK, US and other countries who have pledged their support are to enter the fray. Of course when all is said and done the real truth is that Syria is a nation that so far has let down its people – it is a nation that, for the time being at least, cannot offer its future generations the potentials that they deserve.