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Locals respond to US air strikes in Syria

BY ALEKSANDRA VUJICIC | SEPTEMBER 26, 2014 5:00 AM

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When Hibbah Jarmakani is lucky enough to get an ample phone connection, she calls her family in Salkhad, Syria.

“When I call them, you can hear bombs in the background,” Jarmakani said. “But it’s just something they deal with every day.”

The University of Iowa freshman moved to the United States at the age of 3 and hasn’t visited Syria in more than four years. Although her hometown isn’t close to the U.S. recent attacks, her parents have had to delay plans of returning to the country for fear of their safety.

Earlier this week, the United States launched an air-strike campaign in Syria targeting ISIS, an extremist Islamic group. Arab allies Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Bahrain, and Qatar are also participating in the attacks.

Jarmakani said the air strikes are not the right way to handle the situation and people in the United States, even her, aren’t able to fully comprehend the casualties in Syria.

“No matter what the reason is, you’re dropping bombs on a country, and that’s going to have a negative effect,” Jarmakani said. “You obviously can’t just pinpoint the bad guys, so there are going to be innocent lives lost.”

UI pharmacy student Mousa Abuissa said any international involvement usually doesn’t benefit the people of the area, and the people of Syria know that at this point. He also doesn’t think this operation will completely wipe out ISIS.

“It will trim them down,” he said. “I don’t think it will remove them because they are mostly underground, and yes you can attack all the bases on the surface, but I don’t think that’s going to remove them because they do live among the civilians.”

UI political-science Associate Professor Brian Lai said air strikes can be an effective way to contain and limit ISIS by making it harder for it to operate in the open and by degrading its heavier military equipment. But he says there can be drawbacks as well.

“Airpower is limited in the sense that it cannot completely clear them from the area,” Lai said. “It is an effective way though to impose significant costs on their operation.”

Abuissa also said it’s interesting to look at the policy approach the United States has taken in Syria by letting ISIS grow before the air-strike campaign.

“ISIS has been there for several years now; they could’ve targeted them earlier; they did not,” Abuissa said. “Why is it this time?”

With the addition of Arabic allies, Lai said, the cost of the operations will be distributed across numerous nations, but the alliance sends a strong diplomatic signal as well.

“It helps to legitimize the strikes as not just U.S. strikes but strikes by multiple nations, particularly states that are predominantly Islamic,” he said. “This cooperation also sends the message that the region and the U.S. are united in their efforts against ISIS and other radical Islamic elements in Syria.”

Abuissa said he also feels it’s important to note that other big players, such as China and Russia, are opposed to these attacks.

The focus, instead, should be to aid the people of Syria, he said.

“Syria today is in huge need for first humanitarian-aid supplies, vaccination, and even access to clean water, especially those in camps under siege,”Abuissa said. “I believe that it is far cheaper to deliver some of this aid to people in need than launching 100 rockets per day each costing $500,000.”


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