February 8th, 2017

Spotlight the Possible began in 2013 here at BPC. The goal then and now is to address topics of interest with a focus on telling the complete story in a truthful, unbiased way. Articles were published monthly for about three years. Then there was a roughly one-year hiatus until today’s return. The return was prompted by the continued polarization and extreme levels of misinformation in our current public dialog. With the return, a new focus is added on social media and easy access to the articles by the general public. It is hoped that this access will lead to productive civil dialog.

We encourage you to use our Facebook page to post comments, either about Spotlight the Possible or especially about the topics we discuss. You can read previous articles on our website. Spotlight the Possible.

The Syrian Civil War

Did you know?

The Syrian Civil war has been ongoing since 2011. It rose from the 2010 - 2012 wave of protests in the Arab world known as the Arab Spring. The protests turned violent and the war started when the government attacked protestors calling for the removal of Syrian president Bashar al Assad. Since 2011:

  • At least 470,000 people have been killed. This number was the best estimate approximately one year ago and many more deaths have occurred since then, but accurate counts are difficult to obtain as the violence is too great and the situation too chaotic for monitoring.
  • It is estimated that two million people have been wounded.
  • More than 5 million Syrians have left the country and are living as refugees in other countries. Another 6.5 million are displaced within the country. These two numbers combine to more than half of the pre-war 22 million people of Syria who have lost their homes.
  • It is estimated that there are today 4 million people in need, who live in areas that humanitarian organizations are unable to reach.

The Syrian government receives various kinds of support from Russia, Iran, and Hezbollah. The forces opposing the government in the civil war are not a unified entity, but are instead a large assortment of independent groups. Some of these groups are supported in various ways by countries such as Turkey, Qatar, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia, as well as by the US, Great Britain and France.  At least one rebel group is an al Qaeda affiliate. Additionally, the terrorist organization which calls itself the Islamic State (ISIS) took advantage of the civil war and began to take over large areas of Syria.

Did you also know?

In the last weeks of 2016, following a battle that had gone on for four years, the Syrian government recaptured one of Syria’s largest cities, Aleppo. Following that battle, a cease fire was brokered by Russia and Turkey between the Syrian government and some of the rebel groups. While an important step towards peace, this cease-fire is not an end to the war. Rebel forces continue to hold approximately 60% of the area of Syria, home to 40% of the population.  Syrian president Bashar al Assad has vowed to recapture those areas. Also, ISIS and some other opposition forces are not part of the cease-fire and continue to fight. US president Obama supported the removal of Assad, while president Trump has expressed an interest in partnering with Russia, and by extension Assad, to fight ISIS. Other governments supporting one force or another have an interest in continued fighting.

What you can do:

The Syrian Civil War is one of the bloodiest and most disruptive conflicts of our generation, whose consequences have rippled across the Middle East, Mediterranean countries, Europe, and the United States. The war is at a cross roads with the current cease-fire and the change in the US president. Voice your opinion to the new administration. Urge the US to promote and vigorously pursue a peaceful resolution. Support efforts to assist the many victims of this great human tragedy.

Learn More:

PCUSA supports taking action to provide humanitarian assistance and refugee resettlement. If you would like to learn more about Presbyterian advocacy on Syria, download the following document to learn about their partner organizations engaged in the region. Included are sample letters to your legislators urging them to support Syrian humanitarian aid and refugee resettlement in the U.S. https://www.presbyterianmission.org/resource/holy-discontentment-advocacy-action-syria/

Other sources of information:

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs:  http://www.unocha.org/syrian-arab-republic/syria-country-profile/about-crisis

UN Refugee Agency: http://www.unhcr.org/en-us/global-trends-2015.html

PBS http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/frontline/article/a-staggering-new-death-toll-for-syrias-war-470000/

Syrian Observatory for Human Rightshttp://www.syriahr.com/en/?p=58111

Scripture Reading: Deuteronomy 30:15-20; Psalm 119:1-8; 1 Corinthians 3:1-9; Matthew 5:21-37.

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