Over the past few days, we have been approached by various media outlets asking for Syrian American perspectives on potential US military intervention in Syria. AAI asked Syrian Americans across the country to share their views by answering this question:
“Should the United States respond militarily to the crisis in Syria? Why or why not?”
While the responses below do not fully represent the spectrum of Arab American or Syrian American opinions on US involvement in Syria, we all agree that Arab American voices must be part of this dialogue and hope these views can contribute to the ongoing deliberations in Congress and around the world.
This page is not closed and will be continually updated with new entries by Syrian Americans as they are submitted. We welcome all views and are committed to providing a forum for the opinions of all members of the Syrian American community. All affiliations are self-identified. If you would like to contribute, fill out our secure form.
Members of the press interested in arranging interviews should contact Omar Tewfik in our offices at (202) 652-4988.
“No. And it's not because I support the government and its military. I loathe the government and its military because it engages in savage and brutal violence. However I don't stop there. I loathe the violence and the brutality of the many militarized opposition factions as well. The Syrian conflict is not going to be solved with more violence. Anyone familiar with military interventions are extremely skeptical that US military strikes will help in any way. I would recommend reading Stephen Zunes to learn more about this issue. What needs to happen in Syria is UN teams need to reenter the country and establish and maintain ceasefires far and wide. The UN also needs to send teams into Syria to secure chemical weapons. The international community must pressure the US and Russia to stop supporting all militarized parties in the conflict and press for political solutions. Furthermore, the US needs to promptly set a new date for negotiations with Russia. I would personally like to see the Syrian government allow Syrians to submit and vote on referendums. I feel this would be constructive. Lastly, the Syrian government should incorporate opposition leaders into the government by putting them up for elections to be voted on by Syrians, which could reduce the amount of violence in the country. Of course, putting an end to the Syrian conflict will not be easy or clean. Nevertheless, in order for Syria and beyond to be saved from destruction, the proposals described above must take place. And the way these proposals will be successful is if the people of the world, though more importantly the people of the US and Russia, pressure their governments and the UN to act in the best interests of Syrians.”
-Sami Jarjour is a Syrian American of Christian background living in Georgia. He is available for press inquiries.
“A military response to the Syrian crisis would be disastrous to Syria, the Middle East and the US.
First, it has not been definitely established who is responsible for the chemical attacks. It could be a setup to draw the US into the situation based on comments made by President Obama.
The attack will simply kill more innocent people who have suffered tremendously by this civil war. If in fact there was chemical warfare, bombing and killing more people is not the answer. We too will be killing not with chemicals but with bombs. Two wrongs do not make a right. And what will we have achieved?
The US just came out of Iraq and Afghanistan. The American people do not want another war. We are still recovering from a recession partially due to the expense of the war.
The US does not have the support of the UN nor its most prominent ally, Britain. China and Russia two very powerful countries are also against this attack as are the Arab countries in the Middle East.
Egypt is a critical strategic location for the US. We will lose the relationship with Egypt as well as Lebanon, Jordan and most Middle Eastern countries.
President Obama when rejected by British support was placed in a precarious position due to his previous comments with respect to the use of chemical attacks. He now needs to find a way not to lose face with world opinion but this is not it. I voted for President Obama and was most disappointed in the stand he has taken. Never did I believe that he would not be man enough to stand up and admit he made a mistake. Ego can be a terrible intruder. A man holding such power needs to know how to control it.
War of any kind is not an option.”
-Claudette Koodray Tencza is a Syrian American, member of AAI and former president of the Aleppian Charity Society. She lives in New Jersey and is available for press inquiries.
“Absolutely it should. We have a reckless murderous who used all kind of heavy artillery against densely populated areas and recently used chemical weapons. Syria is invaded by Iran and Hezbollah fighters. Degrading the regime military capability is a must and first step to move toward a negotiated political solution. The United States must interfere to end the war that is already taking place. I also would like to see a no fly zone or safe zone to stop the flow of refugees and for the opposition to be able to govern from inside Syria and start addressing the problem of the presence of extremist elements.”
-Oubab Khalil is the Chief of Staff for the National Coalition of Syrian Revolution and Opposition Forces’ Representative Office in Washington, DC and a Syrian attorney. He lives in Virginia and is available for press inquiries.
“Regardless of whether the US responds militarily, the biggest crisis in Syria remains that of the humanitarian situation—an ever-increasing number of refugees, limited supply of food and a lack of proper medical care. The major question to ask and answer is—how will a military attack affect the humanitarian situation? The reverberations could be catastrophic to the humanitarian crisis.”
-Jihad Qaddour is a Syrian American and the Founder/CEO of Syria Relief and Development, an organization that seeks to provide direct emergency and ongoing humanitarian relief for Syrians who have been affected by violence, poverty, hunger or homelessness since 2011. He lives in Kansas. He is available for press inquiries.
“I support a US-led strike on Assad's capabilities of death and destruction. For over 30 months, the world did nothing to stop the killing and ravishing of Syrians, including using forbidden weapons on innocent civilians. The Syrian revolution started peacefully and stayed that way 6 months despite the killing of over 500 civilians during that period. All we wanted was freedom. Changing of regime wasn't even chanted until later. Those who speak against ‘foreign intervention’ must answer two questions: 1) what about foreign intervention from Russia, Iran, Hezbollah and other militias on Assad's side, and 2) Do you have any better solution that will stop the killing?”
-Dr. Salah Mubarak is a Syrian American Professor of Civil Engineering at Qatar University. He currently lives in Tampa, FL and is available for press inquiries.
“The United States should not respond militarily to the crisis in Syria. Syria is a country with significant diversity both ethnic and religious, including Kurds, Turkmen, Druze, Muslims and Christians to name a few. Restoring true, long-term peace, while maintaining diversity, requires a tenacious effort at finding common ground. Choosing sides will only cause more division and in turn more violence. The United States and Russia are still the top super powers in the world. The fact that these superpowers seemingly cannot or will not work together to broker a peaceful end to the war in Syria stands as a failure of their respective leadership. Both superpowers should bring all of their clout and resources to bear in Syria, starting by achieving a long overdue cease fire by all sides. Then hopefully, the long and difficult, but necessary process of constructing a proper representative government can begin.”
-John Ellem is a Syrian American lawyer and part of the West Virginia House of Delegates. He currently lives in Parkersburg, WV and is available for press inquiries.
“I oppose western military intervention in the Syrian conflict. In practice, the interests of the intervening powers are entirely strategic and align neither with pressing humanitarian needs nor democratic objectives. The US and its allies are interested in containing and maintaining the conflict at its pre-Ghouta status quo, so a strike now will seek to punish Assad without ending the conflict or significantly altering the balance of power. Such a strike is unlikely to produce the “tipping point” the dominant elements of the Syrian opposition have been hoping for to lead to negotiations. And even a limited strike seriously risks retaliation from Syria, Hezbollah, or Iran on the Syrian people and the US’s regional allies; ‘limited’ can quickly become expansive, and theoretical regional war may well become reality. But perhaps more important than the strategic element are the distorted principles driving the calls for intervention. Continued violence in place of politics bodes ill for Syria’s future. The Assad regime came to power and maintained it through the constant threat and use of force. Following the current trajectory, another government coming into power through force will severely diminish Syria’s chances for representative politics, social equity, and economic justice. The US can be productive by leading in a political settlement toward a post-Assad Syria and dealing with the dire humanitarian crisis.”
-Rana Khoury is a Syrian American and PhD student in Political Science at Northwestern University, currently living in Chicago, IL. She is available for press inquiries.
“No. Assad will find a way to turn the tables by accusing the US of killing innocent civilians and damaging infrastructure. Not to mention that an attack on innocents will likely sour future potential with those Syrians who are anti-Assad. A US military response will only embolden, not weaken Assad and his regime. Assad will always have access to weapons, so targeting his military strength is only a temporary solution. Instead, vetted Syrian rebel groups should be given increased financial, medical, educational and military support to bring down the regime themselves. The US could also help by controlling Syria's borders with Iraq, Lebanon, Turkey and Jordan, ensuring that Al Qaeda members are kept out of Syria.”
-Rana Kazkaz is a Syrian American filmmaker and writer living in Chicago, IL. She is available for press inquiries.
“While I understand the concerns expressed by those opposed to intervention as I harbor my own, I believe a strike by the US is the only way to level the playing field and allow the rebels to defeat Assad. Furthermore, I fear that inaction at this point will embolden Assad to increase the continued slaughter of civilians, whether through chemical or conventional weapons.”
-Salah Husseini is a Syrian American attorney in Los Angeles, CA. He is not available for press.
“Demand the White House to stand down on Syria. We have no business punishing anyone. I write from Afghanistan where the results of a failed policy are everywhere. We do not need to destroy another country nor get involved in a place we do not understand.”
-Michele Forzley is a Syrian American international health development professional and a practicing attorney in the field of health development, health sector reform and related legislation. She is available for press inquiries.
“The American led world military strike against the butcher of Syria Assad is absolutely necessary to stop the systematic killing, rape, torture and level of destruction not seen since WWII. The only language the Assad regime will understand is force. Strike now to save what is left of Syria. Kill Assad so Syrian children have a chance at life.”
-Zaki Lababidi is a Syrian American interventional cardiologist in Scottsdale, AZ. He is available for press inquiries.
“Yes it should, Assad is testing the waters with a smaller scale chemical weapons attack then medium size. His next move is to use it on a large scale, ending the Syrian opposition and in return threatening countries around him such as Saudi and Jordan. This has direct impact on US interests and also our values. This issue simply won’t solve itself and the US with its allies must act now. If we wait another 2.5 years the conflict will be much larger requiring boots on the ground. We can avoid doing so now by upgrading the opposition and striking Assad’s chemical weapons.”
-Mhyar Alzayat is a Syrian American raised in the United States. He lives in Virginia and is available for press inquiries.
“Absolutely. It is time to put an end to the murderous regime of Bashar Al-Assad. How many more children are we willing to see exterminated? Assad will only be stopped by force, he uses ‘peace negotiations’ to buy time and maneuver politically. He has broken so many attempted settlements, and attacked people even on Eid. Assad must be stopped before he kills all of Syria.”
-Syrian American immigration attorney from Ohio.
“Yes. Someone, and it seems the USA is the only one that has the courage, must dissuade Assad from even thinking about employing these weapons of mass destruction ever again. If there is no response, then he will unleash these weapons on major cities, since he had no compunction about using them in the back yard of the Syrian capital. His regime has continued to escalate their brutality and ruthlessness over the course of three years, and someone has to stand up and say enough is enough.”
-Syrian American in Boston, MA who has extended family still living in Syria.
“The US should not respond militarily to the crisis in Syria. In any scenario the US does not benefit just as we have seen in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya etc. The region is destabilized enough and adding one more country to the list does not help. For decades, Syria has had the border with Israel secure with no incursion from the Golan. Also, there are freedoms enjoyed in Syria by its citizens that are not present in other countries in the region even some of the strongest Arab allies of the US. The war mongers in Congress who cry ‘Bomb Bomb Bomb, Bomb Bomb Iran,’ we all know who they are the paid surrogates of Christian Zionists in our own country. We should be focusing on the economic health of our own country and helping our marginalized and unemployed constituents rather than spending our tax dollars on international forays that gain us nothing but further contempt from the rest of the world.”
-Syrian American from Colorado heading an NGO in the Levant region.
“We have been asking for the world to open their eyes for the past 2 and a half years and now they are finally waking up. I support military intervention because I don't think anyone should sit back and watch mass atrocities such as chemical weapon use occur. Moral responsibility must take priority over strategic interests. The US will weaken the government and help keep their ‘hands off Syria’ through preventing them from systematically exterminating the population. The US will not be STARTING a war, but ENDING a war imposed by the government on its own people.”
-Syrian American working for an NGO in New York City.
"The terms of success have not been defined in Syria. Obama is motivated to not repeat the inaction of Clinton in the Balkans, but this situation is far more complex and fragile. It's difficult to watch the humanitarian crisis, but until we can define what it means to be successful in terms of US intervention, we cannot act."
-Syrian American from New York with Syrian family members living in exile.