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

Video Analysts: Beijing Parade a 'Bazaar' of Stolen Technology

Show commemorating victory over Japan in World War II involved long, medium and short range missiles, a range of tanks and 200 fighter aircraft More

Bernie Sanders Surge Reflects US Shift on Socialism

Although most analysts say it is unlikely he will get the Democratic nomination, Sanders' campaign opens up questions and issues that are otherwise marginalized More

Video On IS Frontline, Kurdish Fighters Ready for Offensive

Peshmerga soldiers say although they need more heavy artillery, they are poised to take the fight to the Islamic State extremists on their turf 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.
Drowned Migrant Toddler Photo Triggers European Outragei
X
Henry Ridgwell
September 04, 2015 11:36 AM
The harrowing picture of a drowned three-year-old Syrian boy washed up on a Turkish beach appears to have galvanized Europe’s leaders into doing more to address the refugee crisis. France, Germany and Italy issued a joint call Thursday for compulsory quotas of refugees for all EU states. But there were chaotic scenes in Hungary as police tried to force migrants off a train heading for Austria. Henry Ridgwell has more. And a caution, some of the images in this report may be disturbing.
Video

Video Drowned Migrant Toddler Photo Triggers European Outrage

The harrowing picture of a drowned three-year-old Syrian boy washed up on a Turkish beach appears to have galvanized Europe’s leaders into doing more to address the refugee crisis. France, Germany and Italy issued a joint call Thursday for compulsory quotas of refugees for all EU states. But there were chaotic scenes in Hungary as police tried to force migrants off a train heading for Austria. Henry Ridgwell has more. And a caution, some of the images in this report may be disturbing.
Video

Video Russians Observe 11th Anniversary of Beslan School Attack

This week, Russians have been observing the 11th anniversary of the attack by Islamic militants on a school in Russia's North Caucasus region that killed more than 330 hostages, including 186 children. The three-day siege and massacre that started on September 1, 2004 took place in Beslan, a town in the republic of North Ossetia, and is one of the bloodiest terrorist acts ever in Russia. VOA's Mike Richman reports.
Video

Video Native Americans Debate: Father Serra, Saint or Sinner?

Pope Francis will canonize an 18th century missionary to Spanish California during a papal visit to the United States this month.  But some Native Americans have criticized the elevation to sainthood of the missionary priest, Junipero Serra. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan has more from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Calais School Offers Another Face of Europe’s Migrant Crisis

Europe is facing mounting criticism over how it’s handling its biggest migration crisis since World War II. But not all Europeans believe building walls or passing repressive policies are the answer. A school for migrants in the French port city of Calais, is opening doors and building bonds across nationalities. VOA's Lisa Bryant reports.
Video

Video Kurdish Fighters on IS Frontline Ready for Offensive

Finger on the trigger, the Kurdish Peshmerga soldier stared across the dust at a village taken over by Islamic State extremists. The Kurdistan’s Khazir frontline, just 45 minutes from the Islamic State stronghold of Mosul. And at this point, the militants were less than two kilometers away. VOA's Sharon Behn reports.
Video

Video China Announces Troop Cuts at WWII Parade

Chinese President Xi Jinping Thursday announced plans to cut the world’s largest military force by 300,000 troops. The announcement was made during a massive military parade to commemorate victory over Japan in World War II. The event was shunned by most Western leaders and for some is raising fresh concerns about China’s military ambitions. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video Russia-Japan Relations Cool as Putin Visits China for WWII Anniversary

Russian President Vladimir Putin is in Beijing for commemorations of the 70th anniversary of China's WWII victory over Japan. Putin is expected to visit Japan later this year, but tensions between Tokyo and Moscow over islands disputed since the war, and sanctions over Ukraine, could pour cold water on the plan. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Yemen ‘on Brink of Disaster’ as Medical Shortages Soar

Aid agencies warn Yemen is on the brink of humanitarian disaster – with up to half a million children facing severe malnutrition, and hospitals running out of basic medicines. There are fears Yemen's civil war could escalate as the coalition led by Saudi Arabia tries to drive back Houthi rebels, who seized control of much of the country earlier this year. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Apps Helping Kenyan Businesses Stay Ahead of Counterfeiters

Counterfeit goods in Kenya cost the government as much as $1 billion each year in lost tax revenues. The fake goods also hurt entrepreneurs who find it hard to carve out a niche in the market and retain customers. But as Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi, information technology is being used to try to beat the problem.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.

VOA Blogs