On Tuesday, an attack on the rebel-held Syrian town of Khan Shaykhun killed 58 people. It is not immediately clear which regime-backed force carried out the attack.
One thing is clear: people were killed by suffocation, an almost surefire sign that chemical weapons were used. This is not the first time that Bashar al-Assad’s regime has been found to be using chemical weapons against the people of Syria, with the United Nations finding at least three separate incidents since 2014.
Syria is currently a land of turmoil, with many different groups fighting for power. When you read headlines like these, it makes sense why the area is in such disarray. Imagine waking up one day to the sounds of jet planes overhead, hearing a long whistle then having your house crash upon you. In this case, not only does the house collapse and burn, but your ability to breathe is stricken from you.
It is absurd to think of this scenario. I can’t process it at all. There are innocent people who have to essentially decide between which way they want to die. Do they want to be killed by their own government or would they rather have their heads chopped off by ISIS? This is no way to live, and it seems like no one around the globe is doing anything to stop it.
In fact, one country in particular seems to be perpetuating the problem. In 2015, Russia announced that they would come together with the Assad regime to help defeat the terrorists that had invaded Syria. While this may seem like a good idea, Russia seems to support Assad and whatever he chooses to do to citizens. After this most recent attack, there was no condemning heard from the Russians. They usually stay silent and I expect them to continue this absurd trend.
The Chemical Weapons Convention was entered into force on April 29, 1997, banning all use of chemical weapons as well as destroying all previously made chemical weapons. Most of the nations in the UN signed this and agreed to have this done by 2012. After doing some research, I found that Russia never completed their agreement, revealing to the UN that they still had chemical weapons. Syria, on the other hand, told the UN in a letter that the chemical weapons they possessed were completely eradicated in 2013.
It’s unclear if Assad’s letter can be trusted. But, when I look at the situation and see that the only time Syria has been accused of using chemical weapons was when Russia started to get involved, I get suspicious. I get even more suspicious when I hear that Russia never destroyed all of their chemical weapons.
Other countries need to stop being so silent on this issue. The only reason for this silence is the headache that comes with dealing with the instability of the Middle East. This silence goes back to the years of the Obama administration, when they simply denounced the act and offered sanctions against Syria. Something more needs to be done to fix this problem. Forget the politics of the situation — this is a humanitarian crisis that absolutely needs to be resolved.
President Donald Trump seemed to continue this path of fake empathy by saying in a statement: “President Obama said in 2012 that he would establish a ‘red line’ against the use of chemical weapons and then did nothing. The United States stands with our allies across the globe to condemn this intolerable attack.” This is insane that this is the official word from our elected leader.
Instead of acting on the situation like a world leader should, Trump took the time to use the situation for personal political gain. This denouncement was empty-hearted and lacked the right intentions. We need leaders that are willing to step in to situations that aren’t going to be easy to win. We need to stop hiding behind unmanned guns and actually do something.