News / Middle East

Syrian Activists Decry Focus on Chemical Weapons

Syrian Activists Decry Focus on Chemical Weaponsi
X
September 17, 2013
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

TEXT SIZE - +
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

Analysts Warn of Regional Proxy Conflict in Afghanistan

Analysts warn if Kabul’s neighbors do not start to cooperate, competing desires for influence could deteriorate into a bloody proxy war in the country More

Saudi Intelligence Chief Replaced

Bandar bin Sultan came under criticism for supporting al Qaida, prompting King Abdallah to wrest Syria operations away from him in February, handing them to Interior Minister Prince Mohammed bin Nayef More

Poetry Magazine editor Don Share talks what makes a good poem with VOA's David Byrd

What makes a good poem? And is poetry as viable an art form as it once was? To find out, VOA's David Byrd spoke to Don Share, the editor of Poetry Magazine. 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.
Google Buys Drone Companyi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
George Putic
April 15, 2014
In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ray Bonneville Sings the Blues and More on New CD

Singer/songwriter Ray Bonneville has released a new CD called “Easy Gone” with music that reflects his musical and personal journey from French-speaking Canada to his current home in Austin,Texas. The eclectic artist’s fan base extends from Texas to various parts of North America and Europe. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin.
Video

Video Millions Labor in Pakistan's Informal Economy

The World Bank says that in Pakistan, roughly 70 percent work in the so-called informal sector, a part of the economy that is unregulated and untaxed. VOA's Sharon Behn reports from Islamabad on how the informal sector impact's the Pakistani economy.
Video

Video Passover Celebrates Liberation from Bondage

Jewish people around the world are celebrating Passover, a commemoration of their liberation from slavery in Egypt more than 3,300 years ago. According to scripture, God helped the Jews, led by Moses, escape bondage in Egypt and cross the Red Sea into the desert. Zlatica Hoke reports that the story of the Jewish Exodus resonates with other people trying to escape slave-like conditions.
Video

Video Police Pursue Hate Crime Charges Against Kansas Shooting Suspect

Prosecutors are sifting through the evidence in the wake of Sunday’s shootings in a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri that left three people dead. A suspect in the shootings taken into custody is a white supremacist. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, he was well-known to law enforcement agencies and human rights groups alike.
Video

Video In Eastern Ukraine, Pro-unity Activists Emerge from Shadows

Amid the pro-Russian uprisings in eastern Ukraine, there is a large body of activists who support Ukrainian unity and reject Russian intervention. Their activities have remained largely underground, but they are preparing to take on their pro-Moscow opponents, as Henry Ridgwell reports from the eastern city of Donetsk.
Video

Video Basket Maker’s Skills Have World Reach

A prestigious craft show in the U.S. capital offers one-of-a-kind creations by more than 120 artists working in a variety of media. As VOA’s Julie Taboh reports from Washington, one artist lucky enough to be selected says sharing her skills with women overseas is just as significant.
Video

Video UN Report Urges Speedier Action to Avoid Climate Disaster

A new United Nations report says the world must switch from fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources to control the effects of climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released the report (Sunday) following a meeting of scientists and government representatives in Berlin. The comprehensive review follows two recent IPCC reports that detail the certainty of climate change, its impacts and in this most recent report what to do about it. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble has the details.
AppleAndroid