I am Syrian-American and I, Too, Have a Dream

By Eyad AlkurabiImage

While most Americans frame the situation in Syria within “how will it affect us” parameters, I’m bringing it to a light of how it will affect Syrians and other groups in that region.  Syria is pretty developed – cosmopolitan, if you will – which means quite a lot of people who live there are educated.  Make no mistake about it; many people there would rather NOT have Assad in power.  However, the Syrian situation is too complicated to pick sides unless the sides are in Non-Violent protest.  In order to end this civil war, there must be peace talks.  Military intervention would only bring power to factions that many Syrians will likely oppose as much, if not more, than Assad.  In fact, most of the “rebels” are extremely reactionary groups of people who wish to be the “moral police” of society.  It’s highly doubtful that “leaders” in western governments care about Syrians and common folks who live in that region.  They only care about resources – in other words, “oil” interests. And Syria has oil; I can assure you that Syria has oil.

Considering the variety of misunderstandings and flawed analyses hitting the corporate airwaves, it’s important to identify the actual reasons behind the current strife in Syria.  While Syria’s own version of the Arab Spring was effectively engaged in the establishment of a liberal-democratic movement, these efforts were co-opted when the Assad government orchestrated the killing of key, non-violent leaders.  This subsequent co-opting was taken on by factions who were much more willing to employ violent means towards change.  I will agree with most folks that the current situation in Syria is very complicated.  That being said, here’s my story:  I have lost quite a few family members in Syria as a result of this war.  Therefore, it is my sincerest hope that folks will stop the aggression that is trending and turn to Non-Violence, and keep the struggle on those terms.  Violence will NOT solve the issues.  The Arab world needs to step away from this alarming trend.  I recently attended the amazing march on Washington.  It was positive.  It was energetic.  But, I found myself confused as to why no one was talking about Dr. King and other such leader’s anti-war statements. I also found myself wondering why no one seems to address the ongoing influence of the Military industrial Complex.  To me, any so-called “peace” demonstration that fails to channel non-violent leaders of the past, and which fails to discuss the undue authority of the arms industry, is disingenuous.

But more on Syria – everyone must understand something.  This is not a fantasy world, this is reality.  People are people.  Syrians, despite appearing different than you from afar, are vibrant human beings, exactly like you.  They want to be able to walk around, go to work, tend to their children, enjoy meals, and relax with friends and family without being hit by a rocket or shot by a sniper.  These are lives that want the same things you and I want – a living wage, civil rights, and the ability to vote out their leaders if they please.  While watching “expert analysis” from corporate newsheads, please take a moment and put yourself in the shoes of a Syrian citizen.  Empathize with them.  Explore how you might think and feel if you were a Syrian.  Jobs, not war!  Peace, no Death!  No Justice!  No Peace!  To the so-called rebels – stop what you are doing; you co-opted the Arab Spring and have transformed it into a civil war.  And to the Syrian people – empower yourselves collectively, end dictatorship, and begin a process of democratic reform.

Though I have lost loved ones in this horrible war, I still hope to return to Syria one day, without seeing a foreign country.  One final plea:  Respect the autonomy of the Syrian people.  They will find a way to solve their issues, much like Americans did during their years of struggle for independence, much like the French did during their Revolution, much like the Germans did while picking up the remnants of a disastrous world war.  Let’s only hope it won’t be at the cost of peoples’ lives.  I hope, one day, the Syrian people will be free from violence and able to articulate their values while respecting a new rule of law that respects all.  I too have a Dream.

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