All indications are that the United States government will soon enter an armed conflict with the Syrian government in response to the use of chemical weapons against civilians across rebel lines, estimated to have killed between 300 and 1,300 people.
First, some background. The Syrian Civil War began in approximately March 2011 as a part of what was referred to as the "Arab Spring". Protesters took to the street to call for the ouster of President Bashar al-Assad. The Syrian government responded by deploying the military in what quickly became an asymmetrical conflict. The rebels, without centralized leadership, presented a vacuum that was quickly filled by Islamist groups such as the Al-Nusra Front, classified by both the UN and the United States as a terrorist organization, and Al-Qaeda (there are over a dozen Al-Qaeda affiliates in the Middle East, so saying one is affiliated with the Syria opposition really doesn't say much). That's not to say the Syrian rebels are all Islamists, but it is apparent that these groups play a significant role in both the fighting and politics within the opposition forces.
The Syrian government has been supported by Russia, Iran, and Hezbollah. Qatar and Saudia Arabia have been funding and supplying the rebels.
The current state of things has rebel forces controlling most of the Country (to the north and east), but the Syrian government controls the most populous areas.
We are expected to hear more today, but news reports have provided strong evidence that on August 21, 2013, the Syrian government used chemical weapons against civilians in conjunction with an offensive to retake the Damascus-suburbs. This attack was nearly one year after President Obama's August 2012 warning that the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government would change his administration's "calculus" in terms of involvement in the conflict.
Karen DeYoung writes in the Washington Post this morning that President Obama is no longer interested in pursuing inspections through the UN and is now focused on building a coalition to attack Syrian. A resolution is before the UN Security Council to authorize the use of force to prevent any future chemical attacks, but presumably this will be vetoed by Russia, making the entire effort a bit of ticket-punching. Meanwhile, the United States has two aircraft carriers in the region with a third, the USS Nimitz, standing by in the Indian Ocean. The British Royal Navy has deployed a submarine to the region with missile-launching capabilities.
All of this text without getting to "Why". American hegemony deserves a separate post, but for at least the last 25 years, the United States government has poised itself as the Country that determines, establishes, and enforces international norms. The use of chemical weapons against civilian populations is abhorrent and unacceptable. For those reasons, the United States is going to war.
I just wanted to do my part to make sure at least a few of us knew a little more about everything about to be undertaken on our behalf.
Have a great Thursday doing what you love.