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7 Things to Know About Syria


Syria is positioned in a headline-making area of the world. Wikimedia Commons | The Daily Cougar

1. Why is Syria relevant?

Syria’s president, Bashar al-Assad, allegedly used or threatened to use chemical weapons against his own peoples. In response, President Obama threatened to take military action against Al-Assaad if diplomacy should fail.

2.    We are not going to war with Syria

The United States and Russia sent Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, respectively, to Geneva for peace talks beginning Sept. 14 to diffuse the situation by agreeing on a framework of actions. Essentially, the terms state that Syria must hand over and allow for the destruction of their chemical weapons, so long as the U.S. does not order a military strike.

Sources: (what happened/happening) (official framework of terms/ treaty)


3.    Oil prices are slightly down, not up

Previously, due to the tensions between Syria and the United States, some sources predicted oil prices would boom due to the turbulence sparked by another war in the Middle East, but since the situation is under control currently oil/gas prices are actually falling slightly. This is due to the global economy in general, not Syria. “The events in Syria itself will not affect global oil prices,” energy economist at the University of Houston Ed Hirs said. “However, if Syria’s ally Russia becomes too heavily involved with the ongoing events, then we may see some changes.”

“Due to the U.S. dollar gaining strength against various Asian currencies, we may actually see a slight decrease in gas prices soon,” Hirs added.

Source: Ed Hirs, well known energy economist at UH



4.    The chemical weapons must be destroyed, at any cost

Part of the agreement in the treaty the U.S. and Russia are still working out states that the U.S. is in charge of destroying and disposing of the chemical weapons. Chemical weapons are destroyed via incineration and neutralization processes. According to the The Atlantic, the U.S. has already been overseeing the destruction of over 28,364 tons of chemical weapons, at the price of $28 billion. It is estimated that dismantling and destroying  roughly 1000 tons of Syria’s chemical weapons will cost about 1 billion dollars. Another issue pending is how the arsenal shall be transported.

According to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), the term “chemical weapon” is “applied to any toxic chemical or its precursor that can cause death, injury, temporary incapacitation or sensory irritation through its chemical action.”

Generally, chemical weapons are categorized into “agents”, such as choking, blister, blood, and nerve agents. It is unclear exactly which type of weapon(s) Syria possesses.

“Most organic compounds you encounter are one of many types of irritant,” sophomore chemical engineering major Michael Clardy said. “Depending on concentrations of said compounds, the results of exposure to human skin, for example, can range from slight rashes to massive burns.”



6.    Why Russia is concerned

On the surface, it may seem odd that Russia is so heavily involved in the recent events regarding Syria, but Russia is definitely protecting interests in the country. According to The Washington Post, Russia stations a crucial naval base in Syria, sells arms to Syria, and still holds a Cold War-esque attitude towards Western intervention with international affairs.



7.    Syria is war-torn as is

Although Syria has had a history of often violent political strife since its independence from France in 1946, a national upheaval began in 2011, including violence among several warring factions, tens of thousands killed and millions displaced. The U.N. is attempting to stop the fighting but to little avail.


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