Baher al-Assad has ruled Syria as president since July 2000. His father, Hafez al-Assad, ruled Syria from 1970-2000. Assad is a brutal dictator and does not allow any dissent among his people. Torture and murder are some of the tools of Assad. He also controls a large stockpile of chemical weapons. In March of 2011, Syrian rebels rose up against him. Initially, the Obama administration supported the overthrow of Assad, although President Obama would not give or sell weapons to help the rebels. Issuing Assad a threat, President Obama warned Assad at a news conference in Stockholm on September 4, 2013,
“We have been very clear to the Assad regime, but also to other players on the ground, that a red line for us is we start seeing a whole bunch of chemical weapons moving around or being utilized. That would change my calculus. That would change my equation.”
The international community believed that this red line meant that if Assad were to use chemical weapons against the Syrian rebels, Obama would authorize use of United States forces to attack. Chemical weapons are dangerous because they kill everyone, not just soldiers. After it was proven that Assad did use chemical weapons, President Obama stated that he did not make a red line for Assad to cross, and he did not intend to use American weapons and forces against Assad. Since then, the Civil War has become worse, and Russian military has come to the aid of the dictator Assad.
There are various militaries fighting in Syria. One is the military force of Assad. Fighting against them is the Syrian rebels, who wish to oust Assad. Fighting against both of these is the Islamic terrorist organization ISIS. ISIS wants to create a country in the Middle East. After it became clear the U.S.A. was not going to get involved, Russian President Putin has sent military weapons and soldiers to support Assad. Putin has made Russia an authoritarian country, where journalists are not allowed to write or report anything against him.
1. What and who are Syrian refugees escaping from?
2. Where are many trying to emigrate?
3. What did everyone think President Obama meant when he talked about a red line?
4. Who is ISIS?
5. In your opinion, should the U.S.A. encourage Syrian refugees to come to America? Why or why not?
For Video Links to the Syrian Refugee Crisis, go HERE.