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The Syrian Civil War and the Syrian Refugee CrisisSean Rogers November 14th, 2017GradyImmigration has been an essential process in the history of the United States. Throughout America’s history, immigration has been beneficial for the United States. However, immigration in the present time from certain areas of the world has the potential to be problematic. Syria is a country located along the Southern border of Turkey and East of the Mediterranean Sea. The country has torn itself apart over the last six years in a brutal civil war. The conflict has left more than half of the population displaced, causing a refugee crisis that has spread from the Middle East, to Europe and soon to the United States. America is deeply divided on the issue of accepting these refugees. One on side, citizens believe that accepting the refugees is the United States’ duty as the leader of democracy and the Western World. On the other side, people believe that accepting thousands of refugees from a country known for radical Islamic terrorism into a country with an ever increasing homeless population and an ever growing economic gap is a bad idea. America is also divided on whether or not to send troops to Syria. Some citizens want to deploy American forces to overthrow Assad’s regime and kill terrorists and other people want to keep Americans safe and off of foreign soil. America should accept extremely low numbers of qualified, educated refugees who have gone through an extreme vetting process and America should deploy a fully voluntary military force to protect civilians, kill terrorists, and support US Allies without directly engaging Syrian or Russian forces.  After the collapse of the Ottoman Empire in World War I, Syria was given to France (“Syria Profile – Timeline”). After four years of brutal oppression towards the Syrian people, the French were ousted by the Syrian people after a series of revolts (“Syria Profile – Timeline”). After several years of turmoil, the Syrian people formed the the Republic of Syria (“Syria Profile – Timeline”). In 1970 Hafez Al-Assad took over the Syrian government in a military coup. His son, Bashar Al-Assad, took control after his father’s death in 2000 (“Syria Profile – Timeline”). After several years of unrest, uprisings began after the government arrested and tortured a group of Syrian teenagers (“Syria Profile – Timeline”). Some uprisings were quelled when government soldiers open-fired on unarmed civilians. After the massacre, people across the country rose in open rebellion against Assad’s regime. At first, the Syrian rebels were very unorganized. Lacking a common-leader, infrastructure, international support, or an established goal after the fall of Assad; the rebels lost many battles in the beginning of the war (“Syria Profile – Timeline”). The Syrian government quickly cracked-down on the rebellion in many cities, leading to the deaths of many innocent civilians.  (“Syria Profile – Timeline”). Despite the rebels weak start, they eventually organized into two primary groups: the Free Syrian Army and the Rojava- a Kurdish army which fights for independence for the Rojava people of Syria. The Free Syrian Army’s command was split between Bashaar al-Zoubi and Jamal Maarouf. Al-Zoubi would take control of the northern front and Maarouf would control the southern front. The Rojava elected Riad Darar as their president. Within a year of the initial uprisings, the war had spread across the entire country, including the ancient and heavily populated city of Aleppo (“Syria Profile – Timeline”). Rebels captured the city, but were quickly besieged by government forces. Instead of attempting to take the city by force, government and Russian forces bombarded the city with artillery and air power (“Syria Profile – Timeline”). At different times in 2016, the government infamously dropped chlorine gas on civilian centers (UN: Both Sides Committed War Crimes in Syria’s Aleppo). The fighting in the city was long and bloody leading to the deaths of many civilians. The sheer percentage of civilian casualties attracted worldwide attention. Russian forces first engaged rebel forces on September 30th, 2015 (Russia joins war in Syria: Five key points). At first, the Russians only targeted terrorists with airstrikes; however, as time went on, the Russians became more involved (Russia joins war in Syria: Five key points). The Russians first engaged when one of their naval bases in Syria came under threat by rebel forces (Russia joins war in Syria: Five key points). The Russians did not want to lose the base because it was their last naval base in the Middle East (Russia joins war in Syria: Five key points). Since Syria is a Russian ally and  buys Russian weapons: Russia went to war to support Syria and Bashar Al-Assad (Russia joins war in Syria: Five key points). There is overwhelming evidence that both sides of the conflict have committed war crimes. The government has been accused of using chemical weapons on both soldiers and civilians, systematically slaughtering civilians, attacking human rights workers, and withholding food from besieged cities (Michaels). On the rebels side, there is evidence that rebel forces stopped people from fleeing cities such as Aleppo through the use of force (U.N. Report Says Syrian Forces And Rebel Factions Committed Aleppo ‘War Crimes’). Many radical Islamic terror groups have risen from the ashes left by the fighting. Some of the groups include ISIS, Al-Qaeda, and Al Nusra. The groups rose to power in Syria because of the power vacuum created by the ceaseless fighting between the government and the rebels. Most notably, ISIS took control of massive amounts of territory in Syria and Iraq in a very short period of time. ISIS, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, is a Sunni Islamic terrorist group in Syria and Iraq. The group broke off from Al-Qaeda in Iraq in 2006 becoming ISI. With the outbreak of the Syrian Civil War, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, ISIS’ leader sought to expand into Syria. When they did, he struck fast and efficiently, taking swaths of territory. ISIS rules over territory using a strict Islamic law system known as Sharia law. Sharia law forces women to wear hijabs which cover their entire body; bans usage of alcohol to religious ceremonies; demands cruel and unusual punishments for petty crimes; restricts the freedom press, religion, and speech; and enables a solely male centered society. At their height, ISIS controlled most of Northern Syria and Western Iraq. ISIS has committed countless atrocities including: the slaughter and rape of innocents, enslavement, and global terrorism. In recent months, ISIS has lost much of its territory due to a US led coalition which includes forces from the U.S., Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Turkey, and NATO. Until recently, the U.S. was following a “No boots on the ground” policy. The U.S. refused to deploy ground forces and risk American lives. With the inauguration of President Donald Trump, these policies changed. America should only take in low numbers of highly educated refugees who have passed an extreme vetting program. This is due to the fact that refugees may be terrorist cells, America already has problems with immigration, and the sheer amount of money it would take to support each refugee would be too strenuous on the already struggling American economy. Studies show that more than ten percent of Syrian refugees openly support ISIS and Islamic extremism. Why should American civilians be put at risk of terrorism? Furthermore, why should America give ISIS the platform it needs to commit acts of terror in major US cities? ISIS needs an audience. Whether it be from the Manchester Concert attack or the Orlando Nightclub massacre, ISIS thrives off of the negative attention which it receives from terrorism on a global scale. Aside from terrorism, America already faces massive immigration on its Southern border. Every year, thousands of Latin-Americans flood into the United States- legally and illegally- taking American jobs and overwhelming the American welfare system. A massive influx of refugees from Syria would only worsen this problem. The refugees would need places to live, food to eat, healthcare, and lessons in English, costing the American taxpayers millions of dollars. Finally, who will pay for the refugees housing? What about their food, education, healthcare, et cetera.  It costs thousands of dollars to house, feed, and clothe just one person (there are already over 52 million people in the US who rely on government assistance) without accounting for relocation costs, education costs, and healthcare costs. A study showed that it costs around ninety-two-thousand dollars to resettle a single refugee. America is already trillions of dollars in debt, why exacerbate this growing issue by allowing the immigration of thousands of low skilled laborers that will inevitably be living off the government for the foreseeable future?One of the key reasons that people want to allow the immigration of these refugees is because “Refugee resettlement reflects American values”, and it does. Throughout American history refugees have been accepted into America; whether it be for cheap labor or for a simple population boost. But, America is no longer the starving nation that it was. Now, America has the largest, most advanced economy in the world. American cities are overpopulated to the point that urban sprawl stretches for miles across the horizon. Furthermore, one in ten of these refugees poses a threat to the American way of life. For example, in the last two years, more than 2.5 million refugees applied for asylum in Europe. Another 2.3 million refugees have illegally crossed borders into Europe. And in the last two years, dozens of terrorist attacks have beaten European society to its knees, claiming the lives of hundreds of innocent civilians and wounding thousands more. America can not condone the endangerment of its own citizens to protect people who support terror. ISIS has been one of the primary catalysts for these attacks on Europe. Therefore, America should deploy a fully voluntary military force with the task of defeating ISIS and protecting civilians. If America sent a voluntary force into Syria and Iraq, they could quickly defeat ISIS and establish safe zones in which civilians could live peacefully. This would mitigate both the problem of terror attacks and the refugee crisis in Europe. American forces would also support US allies without directly engaging Syrian or Russian forces. The military forces would help train and supply allies like the Rojava or certain parts of the Free Syrian Army. Many people believe that risking soldiers lives to fight foreign wars is not good and our army should only be used to defend our country. Normally, this is a very logical statement. However, ISIS has demonstrated its military prowess before, allowing it to grow and spread like an infection. Therefore, It is in America’s best interest to purge the world of ISIS, destroying ISIS and its very idea. Also, if America supports the Rojava and the Free Syrian Army, they would have a far better chance of winning the Syrian Civil War. After the war, if the Rojava or Free Syrian Army won, they would become strong allies in a region where the US does not have many allies. In conclusion, America should only allow the immigration of a select few Syrians who are well educated and have passed an extreme selection process; America should deploy a fully voluntary force to destroy ISIS, protect civilians, and support America’s allies. If followed, this plan has the ability to bring peace and stability to region whose people have been dragged through the mud for the past six years. This plan also has the potential to keep the American people safe and advance technology in the United States through the help of Syrian intellectuals. The Syrian Civil War is a brutal conflict which has killed hundreds-of-thousands of people, caused the suffering of millions more, and has seen atrocities the likes of which mankind has not witnessed since the Rwandan genocide. Unfortunately for the world, there is no end in sight.

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