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Syria’s crisis expands well beyond its borders

September 17th, 2013

Clashes over the future of Syria have not been confined to that small and embattled country during this past month. While the Syrian government and rebels spiral further into vicious civil war, so, too, has the world community become deeply entrenched in debates regarding proper intervention.

As the death toll has topped 100,000 and continues to climb, the international community has moved their focus on Syria to the forefront. Talks between some of the world’s largest powers have taken a decidedly more urgent tone. While these talks have grown more pressing in nature, little tangible progress had been achieved until very recently. Even though the Syrian civil conflict began just over two years ago, world leaders have shown hesitation to take action militarily. Now, with the confirmation of chemical weapons burning in the minds of both Russian and United States’ leaders, both options of military and diplomatic action are being revisited.

On Sept. 15, the U. S. and Russia, two of the largest forces at work in this situation, agreed to “rid Syria of its chemical weapons,” according to CNN News. This recent move has polarized leaders, as some hailed the decision as a tactful political move while others strongly denounced it.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad publicly lauded the removal of chemical weapons, calling it a “victory” for Syria. Conversely, opposition and rebel leaders are criticizing the resolution and claiming that such a decision allows al-Assad to escape punishment for utilizing chemical weapons.

While the U.S. and Russia reached an accord on removing chemical weapons, other differences have not yet been resolved. Russian President Vladmir Putin has repeatedly resisted endorsing a military strike.  According to the New York Times, Putin contends that, without the explicit and legitimate consent of the United Nations Security Council, any military action would constitute “aggression” and upset world order. Russia, as it happens, is also strong trade partners with Syria and has a strong interest in continuing that partnership.

On the other hand, the U.S. has called for military action on the grounds of chemical weapons usage. With the implementation of chemical weapons, the number of refugees has risen dramatically.  At this point, there are over 2 million displaced Syrians, with one new Syrian seeking refuge every 15 seconds.  Although these are disturbing figures, United States Congress is still divided on taking action.

To be sure substantive progress has been made, the international community is working tirelessly to affect meaningful change. However, in spite of this resolve, the road to peace is a dimly lit one, lacking clarity and presenting pitfalls at each step.

Information from CNN News and The New York Times was used in this report.