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

    Multimedia Obama Calls on Americans to Help the Families of Its War Dead

    In last Memorial Day of his presidency, Obama lays wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery

    The Strife of the Party: Will Trump Permanently Alter Republicans?

    While billionaire mogul's no-holds-barred style, high-energy delivery are what rocketed him to nomination, they also have created rift between party elites and his supporters

    China's Education Reforms Spark Protest

    Beijing is putting a quota system in place to increase the number of students from poor regions attending universities

    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.
    Tech Startups Showcase Wares at Amsterdam Conferencei
    X
    Serginho Roosblad
    May 30, 2016 5:11 PM
    More than 20,000 tech enthusiasts, entrepreneurs and lovers of digital technology came together in Amsterdam recently at the Next Web Conference to discuss the latest developments in digital technology, look to the future and, of course, to connect. In recent years, there has been an explosion of so-called startup businesses that have created devices and applications that have changed the way we live; but, as Serginho Roosblad reports for VOA, there are pitfalls for such startups as well.
    Video

    Video Tech Startups Showcase Wares at Amsterdam Conference

    More than 20,000 tech enthusiasts, entrepreneurs and lovers of digital technology came together in Amsterdam recently at the Next Web Conference to discuss the latest developments in digital technology, look to the future and, of course, to connect. In recent years, there has been an explosion of so-called startup businesses that have created devices and applications that have changed the way we live; but, as Serginho Roosblad reports for VOA, there are pitfalls for such startups as well.
    Video

    Video US Military's Fallen Honored With Flags

    Memorial Day is a long weekend for most Americans. For some, it is the unofficial start of summer -- local swimming pools open and outdoor grilling season begins. But Memorial Day remains true to its origins -- a day to remember the U.S. military's fallen.
    Video

    Video Rolling Thunder Rolls Into Washington

    The Rolling Thunder caravan of motorcycles rolled into Washington Sunday, to support the U.S. military on the country's Memorial Day weekend
    Video

    Video A New Reading Program Pairs Kids with Dogs

    Dogs, it is said, are man's best friend. What some researchers have discovered is that they can also be a friend to a struggling reader. A group called Intermountain Therapy Animals trains dogs to help all kinds of kids with reading problems — from those with special needs to those for whom English is a second language. Faiza Elmasry has more on the New York chapter of R.E.A.D., or Reading Education Assistance Dogs, in this piece narrated by Faith Lapidus.
    Video

    Video Fan Base Grows for Fictional Wyoming Sheriff Longmire

    Around the world, the most enduring symbol of the U.S. is that of the cowboy. A very small percentage of Americans live in Western rural areas, and fewer still are cowboys. But the fascination with the American West is kept alive by such cultural offerings as “Longmire,” a series of books and TV episodes about a fictional Wyoming sheriff. VOA’s Greg Flakus recently spoke with Longmire’s creator, Craig Johnson, and filed this report from Houston.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora