News / Middle East

Syrian Activists Decry Focus on Chemical Weapons

Syrian Activists Decry Focus on Chemical Weaponsi
X
September 17, 2013 4:42 PM
As the international community acts to neutralize Syria's chemical weapons capabilities, VOA's Elizabeth Arrott in Cairo reports that some in the Syrian opposition say the brutality of the conventional war is being ignored.

Syrian Activists Decry Focus on Chemical Weapons

Elizabeth Arrott
As the international community acts to neutralize Syria's chemical weapons capabilities, some in the Syrian opposition say the brutality of the conventional war is being ignored.  
 
For Syrian activist Soad Khadeya, there is a semblance of normalcy in her new life near Cairo, though the horrors of her homeland are never far away.
 
Khadeya lived in Ghouta, fleeing a few months before what the United Nations confirms was a sarin attack August 21 on the Damascus suburb.

Deaths across Syria from conflict - updated September 10, 2013.Deaths across Syria from conflict - updated September 10, 2013.
x
Deaths across Syria from conflict - updated September 10, 2013.
Deaths across Syria from conflict - updated September 10, 2013.
'Indifference' to killing

But even with that personal connection, she said the international focus on securing Syria's chemical weapons is far too narrow. Hundreds may have died from chemical agents, she argued, but more than 100,000 others have died in “conventional” violence.

The former journalist says how people are killed does not matter, whether it's through chemicals or shelling, fighter jets or public execution. She said “our children are killed by all sorts of weapons, and the world is watching our killing with silence and indifference.”  
 
Khadeya, who has opened her home to other refugees, is glad the United States is pushing for a military option should diplomacy fail.
 
She said she does not want the United States to merely punish Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for allegedly using the weapons. She wants him gone.

It is not a popular view among many fellow Arabs. Another member of the household, 20-year-old activist Ayman, said public opinion in the Middle East runs strongly against any type of intervention.    

Syrian activist Soad Khadeya (third from right wearing a blue hijab) has opened her home near Cairo to other Syrian refugees, September 11, 2013. (Yuli Weeks for VOA)Syrian activist Soad Khadeya (third from right wearing a blue hijab) has opened her home near Cairo to other Syrian refugees, September 11, 2013. (Yuli Weeks for VOA)
x
Syrian activist Soad Khadeya (third from right wearing a blue hijab) has opened her home near Cairo to other Syrian refugees, September 11, 2013. (Yuli Weeks for VOA)
Syrian activist Soad Khadeya (third from right wearing a blue hijab) has opened her home near Cairo to other Syrian refugees, September 11, 2013. (Yuli Weeks for VOA)
Mideast avoidance to intervention

He calls it “embarrassing” that even with continuous scenes of death before their eyes, many oppose a U.S. strike.   

Some in the Middle East fear intervention would launch a wider war. Others worry it would unleash the increasingly powerful jihadi elements among the rebels.

Political theorist Christian Donath of the American University in Cairo said, "There are a lot of extremist’s elements in the resistance against Assad, and it is not clear if the U.S. is going to get a much better outcome from those groups compared to the Assad regime."

For moderates like Khadeya, that is okay, even though she said they do not represent the goals of her movement. She said they are different, with different thoughts, but that Syrians need “whoever can defend us.  We need whoever can protect us against the world's silence.“

The world is talking now, about chemical weapons. At the same time, the conventional brutality and the extremism it created carry on.

  • This citizen journalism image provided by Edlib News Network shows anti-Syrian regime protesters hold a poster depicting U.S. President Barack Obama during a demonstration in Kafr Nabil, Idlib province, Sept. 20, 2013.
  • Children sit along a damaged street filled with debris in the besieged area of Homs, Sept. 19, 2013.
  • Debris is seen on the ground after what activists said was shelling by forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad in the al-Myassar neighborhood of Aleppo, Sept. 19, 2013.
  • An injured man walks along a street after what activists said was shelling by forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad in the al-Myassar neighborhood of Aleppo, Sept. 19, 2013.
  • This citizen journalism image provided by The Syrian Revolution against Bashar Assad shows a Syrian military tank on fire during clashes with Free Syrian army fighters in Joubar, a suburb of Damascus, Sept. 18, 2013.
  • A member of the Shohadaa Badr Brigade, which operates under the Free Syrian Army, stands in shooting position behind sandbags in Ashrafieh, Aleppo, September 17, 2013.
  • Free Syrian Army fighters walk through rubble inside the old city of Aleppo, Sept. 16, 2013.
  • A Free Syrian Army fighter carries his weapon as he stands on rubble of damaged buildings in al-Aseela neighborhood near Aleppo's historic citadel, Sept. 13, 2013.
  • In this citizen journalism image provided by the United media office of Arbeen, a Syrian protester chants slogans during a demonstration in Arbeen, a suburb of Damascus, Sept. 13, 2013.

You May Like

Israelis Quietly Expand Enclave in Palestinian District of Jerusalem

Estimated 500 settlers, armed or protected by paramilitary police, live in Silwan among 50,000 Palestinians More

Video US, Iran Face Similar Challenges in Syrian Fight Against IS

Both Washington, Tehran back fighters battling Islamic State militants in Iraq -- but in Syria they support opposing sides in country’s civil war More

China Boosts Efforts to Help Afghan, Regional Stability

Observers say China’s increased regional involvement are due to concerns that Afghan instability and the presence of anti-China militants in Pakistani border areas could fuel Xinjiang troubles More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Anonymous
September 17, 2013 7:56 PM
Absolutely. I am in total agreement, assad inflicted atrocities worse than this chemical weapon incident. He is guilty of crimes with convetional weapons. Not only do the conventional weapons kill innocent people it destroys everything!!

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Lawi
X
William Ide
October 20, 2014 10:23 AM
China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Nigeria Agrees to Cease-Fire With Boko Haram

Islamist militant group Boko Haram and the Nigerian government have agreed to a cease-fire. The Nigerian government issued an order Friday, telling all military chiefs "to comply with the cease-fire agreement in all theaters of operations. Why now and the significance of the agreement are questions on some people’s minds. VOA's Mariama Diallo reports.
Video

Video Kobani Fighting Sends 400,000 Refugees to Turkey

The offensive by Islamic State militants against the northern Syrian city of Kobani has caused hundreds of thousands of residents to flee to Turkey. They receive help from Turkish authorities and individuals, but say much more is needed. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from the town of Suruc a few kilometers from the border.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Syrian Defector Leaks Shocking Photos of Torture Victims

Shocking photographs purporting to show Syrian torture victims are on display at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington. The museum says the graphic images are among thousands of photographs recently smuggled out of Syria by a military policeman-turned-defector. As VOA reporter Julie Taboh reports, the museum says the photos provide further evidence of atrocities committed by the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad against its own people.
Video

Video Drought-Stricken California Considers Upgrading Water System

A three-year drought in California is causing a water shortage that is being felt on farms and cities throughout the state. As VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports, water experts, consumers and farmers say California needs to make changes to cope with an uncertain future.
Video

Video TechShop Puts High-tech Dreams Within Reach

Square, a business app and card reader, makes it possible to do credit card transactions through cell phones. But what made Square possible? VOA’s Adrianna Zhang and Enming Liu have the answer.

All About America

AppleAndroid