Two years ago, two Syrian teen boys missed their bus to school. That same bus was later overtaken by Syrian rebels, who took all of the males on the bus and forced them to fight for the rebel army. Had the boys not missed their bus, they would have been captured, too.
Such was the luck of University of Miami senior Suzanne Aldahan’s two cousins. Aldahan used to visit Syria during the summer, but has not been back in three years because of the country’s difficult political climate.
In recent days, Syria’s situation has worsened. The United States Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved Wednesday afternoon a military strike on Syria in response to the alleged chemical warfare that the Assad regime recently unleashed on its civilians.
According to Secretary of State John Kerry, the current Syrian government used globally-banned sarin gas to kill nearly 1,500 people, including more than 400 children. The U.S. performed laboratory tests on blood and hair samples from responders of an alleged chemical war attack on Aug. 21, Kerry said.
There is debate over the number of fatalities. According to a report released by the McClatchy Washington Bureau, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights confirmed 502 dead, including about 100 children and a handful of rebel fighters.
President Barack Obama asked Congress on Saturday to consider military action on Syria.
Ambler Moss, a professor in the international studies department, said that Obama’s decision to ask for Congress’s permission was the right thing to do.
“Keep the debate going in the international community,” Moss said. “He’s pushing somebody to do something but will not just strike out on his own without the support of Congress and the international community.”
No stranger to international politics, Moss was a U.S. diplomat under both Presidents Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan. He was a negotiator in the Panama Canal Treaty and was the State department’s “salesman” in getting Congress to approve the plans.
No other country has entered Syria yet. England recently rejected a proposal to use force, and France and Germany are still unsure. Moss said that if the U.S. were to enter Syria without support from other nations, it could be problematic.
“If it did it completely on it’s own without any international support, this would not be good for the U.S.’s reputation,” he said.
For some, the opposition to entering Syria is rooted in financial concerns.
“I think it should be to the jurisdiction of the UN – but the U.S. cannot take the economical burden of yet another war,” said junior Rebecca Garcia, an international studies major.
Aldahan believes that the U.S. should concern itself with domestic issues before trying to solve international crises.
“I don’t think it’s a good idea for the U.S. to intervene, because I think that we should focus more on our own country before we start dealing with international affairs,” she said.
Though her relatives live in a suburb of Damascus, about two hours away from the most dangerous areas, she is worried about her family. Despite the distance, her family is still careful.
“They stay off the streets as much as possible,” Aldahan said. “… if it’s not necessary to be outside, they don’t go outside.”