For the past year and a half, much of the population of Syria has been protesting the government of Bashar al-Assad. In the past few months, this protest, which rose out of the Arab Spring in early 2011, has escalated from isolated events of violence to widespread civil war, with the military forces under al-Assad combatting rebel forces.
Last week members of opposition groups, humanitarian aid organizations, and interested Western powers met to discuss how to effectively oppose the Syrian government without causing more bloodshed. This meeting took place in Doha, the capital city of Qatar. Under the supervision of the Arab League, this meeting sought to unite all parties involved in opposition to Syria, in an effort to force al-Assad and his government to stop the violence and bloodshed. Those involved have stated that failure is “forbidden,” and that they will not leave this meeting without a working plan.
Over the past year, the U.S. and the United Nations Security Council have leveled trade sanctions against Syria to force them to listen to their people, but as the sanctions have only pushed the Syrian government and military to more violence. Current estimates are that roughly 35,000 people have been killed in the fighting.
U.N. humanitarian aid groups report that roughly 1.2 million people have been displaced by the violence in Syria, with some 11,000 fleeing the country on last Thursday night alone. Turkey has been accepting the lion’s share of the refugees, with 9,000 crossing the border overnight.
Civilians are not the only ones fleeing the violence, it seems. Three generals and eight colonels as well as other military officers defected from the Syrian army and crossed into Turkey last week, suggesting that some of the Syrian government and military are becoming disgruntled with the direction al-Assad has taken the nation.
With the death toll continuing to rise, it has become imperative that everyone involved reach an agreement on how best to combat the injustice in Syria. Turkey has made it clear that they are willing to use military force, and many Middle Eastern powers are now joining together to oppose Bashar al-Assad until he concedes.