What's Going On In Aleppo And Why You Should Care

What's Going On In Aleppo And Why You Should Care

This isn’t a U.S. problem, or a Russian problem, or even a Syrian problem. It’s an issue of human rights, and human rights should be everyone’s problem.

As a society, we tend to have the "If it doesn't affect me, then I don't care" mentality about a lot of things. It's especially easy to look the other way when the problem at hand is far beyond our national borders. But when a humanitarian crisis like Aleppo reaches such a large scale, we can no longer continue turning our backs.

How did it all start?

A civil war has been raging in Syria for years. The battle that everyone is talking about is happening in Aleppo, which was formerly the largest city in Syria. Before it was torn apart by war, Aleppo was a major commercial center and home to major supply lines, which means that whichever side had control of the city had control of supplies, causing the other army to suffer.

As is the case with most civil wars, the rebel forces (backed by the United States, Saudi Arabia and Turkey) are fighting for freedom from an oppressive government regime under Syrian President Bashar Assad (whose forces are backed by the government, Russia and Iran). The rebels felt that their political, cultural and religious views were being oppressed. They also resented the way that the government was handling the economic crisis at the time. The government retaliated harshly against the peaceful protests and a revolution was born.

Thousands of Syrian refugees have escaped since the start of the war, but thousands more remain trapped in Aleppo. An estimated 400,000 people (that’s more people than the city of New Orleans) have been killed since the start of the war and the multiple cease-fire deals have failed to take hold.

Where does the United States come in?

When the war began in 2011, the U.S. was reluctant to get involved. However, in 2014, the government began monitoring ISIL's involvement in the war in Syria. The United States, along with other rebel-allied countries, began offering training and supplies to the rebel forces. President Obama said that he has "made it clear that we will hunt down terrorists who threaten our country, wherever they are. That means I will not hesitate to take action against ISIL in Syria, as well as Iraq."

The Department of Homeland Security has pledged to take in 10,000 Syrian refugees. Some cities welcome the influx of immigrants, saying that the humanitarian gesture will boost local economies and help grow the labor force. Other cities expressed concerns about potential terrorists being brought into the country. Currently, 28 other countries have agreed to provide refuge for the fleeing Syrians.

What's happening now?

It's looking bleak for the rebel forces. Assad's government forces have been steadily bombing their way through the city and have regained control of any areas the rebels had taken. The city had historically been divided between rebel and government control, but government forces are now claiming victory. Trapped civilians have been taking to social media, first with pleas for help, and now with goodbye messages. An estimated 100,000-250,000 civilians remain missing or are trapped in Aleppo, unable to escape.

The United Nations Security Council finally voted to deploy staff members to monitor and assist with the evacuation of Syrian civilians. They also made a plan to ensure that humanitarian aid will reach those that need it in Aleppo. Russia, who supports the government forces, has continually used its power in the UN to prevent the council from maintaining a cease-fire and from forming a resolution to end the five-year war. The main priority as of now is to protect the refugees and trapped civilians from the deadly Syrian winter.

How does this affect you?

It’s easy, as we sit in our comfortable homes with the power of a great nation ensuring our safety, to say that we need to stop meddling in the Middle East or that the U.S. should stop providing aid to foreign nations altogether. “Let them worry about themselves and we’ll worry about ourselves,” we say.

But it’s not quite as simple as that. After the Obama administration was pressed to pull troops from the Middle East, we left the countries helpless. Maybe we never should have gone into the Middle East at all, but there’s no changing the fact that we did. We sent our troops over, promising to help the countries build a democracy and to strengthen their armies, and then we left before they’d gotten back on their feet. It’s rather like the classic Peanuts scene, where Lucy promises Charlie Brown that she’ll hold the football for him to kick, and then yanks it out from under him at the last second so that he falls flat on his back, leaving him worse off than he was before.

Aleppo is just one of the many areas that was negatively affected by our rapid change in foreign policy. The blame for the Syrian war does not fall entirely on the U.S., but we certainly carry some of the blame. These nations wanted help to “westernize” their governments, but with the absence of a Western force to help them achieve these goals, small extremist groups have moved in and wreaked havoc.

We could debate the reason for pulling the troops from the Middle East and we could point the finger of blame all day, but this won’t achieve anything. This isn’t a U.S. problem, or a Russian problem, or even a Syrian problem. It’s an issue of human rights and human rights should be everyone’s problem. There are plenty of ways to donate right now to Aleppo to help save the victims of war. But what’s even more important is to look to the future for change.

The burden of war is soon going to fall on the shoulders of our young generations and Syria is going to be the template that we use to decide how to proceed. The way that we fight wars, or hopefully, the way that we prevent wars, is going to have to change, especially in light of our dwindling natural resources. Our generation will be deciding how to solve these conflicts and how to rectify the aftermath. We need to stand up for marginalized countries like Syria. We need to end their suffering and protect other countries from meeting the same fate. We need to end the cycle of violence in the Middle East.

It starts with taking a stand. Taking a stand for the rights of all people in a way that makes people pay attention. Being a voice for those that don't have a voice. Being informed and remembering the mistakes that have been made in the past in order to not repeat them in the future. It starts with us.

Consider donating to one of these organizations- every dollar helps! The Red Cross is evacuating Syrian civilians from Aleppo and providing medical care. Donate here. UNICEF is providing clean water, medical supplies, and clothing kits for displaced Syrians. Donate here. Doctors Without Borders is sending medical supplies to hospitals treating the wounded. Donate here. The White Helmets have saved more than 73,000 lives by visiting blast sites and extracting victims from the rubble. Donate here.

Cover Image Credit: Lifegate

Popular Right Now

College As Told By Junie B. Jones

A tribute to the beloved author Barbara Parks.

The Junie B. Jones series was a big part of my childhood. They were the first chapter books I ever read. On car trips, my mother would entertain my sister and me by purchasing a new Junie B. Jones book and reading it to us. My favorite part about the books then, and still, are how funny they are. Junie B. takes things very literally, and her (mis)adventures are hilarious. A lot of children's authors tend to write for children and parents in their books to keep the attention of both parties. Barbara Park, the author of the Junie B. Jones series, did just that. This is why many things Junie B. said in Kindergarten could be applied to her experiences in college, as shown here.

When Junie B. introduces herself hundreds of times during orientation week:

“My name is Junie B. Jones. The B stands for Beatrice. Except I don't like Beatrice. I just like B and that's all." (Junie B. Jones and the Stupid Smelly Bus, p. 1)

When she goes to her first college career fair:

"Yeah, only guess what? I never even heard of that dumb word careers before. And so I won't know what the heck we're talking about." (Junie B. Jones and her Big Fat Mouth, p. 2)

When she thinks people in class are gossiping about her:

“They whispered to each other for a real long time. Also, they kept looking at me. And they wouldn't even stop." (Junie B., First Grader Boss of Lunch, p. 66)

When someone asks her about the library:

“It's where the books are. And guess what? Books are my very favorite things in the whole world!" (Junie B. Jones and the Stupid Smelly Bus, p. 27)

When she doesn't know what she's eating at the caf:

“I peeked inside the bread. I stared and stared for a real long time. 'Cause I didn't actually recognize the meat, that's why. Finally, I ate it anyway. It was tasty...whatever it was." (Junie B., First Grader Boss of Lunch, p. 66)

When she gets bored during class:

“I drew a sausage patty on my arm. Only that wasn't even an assignment." (Junie B. Jones Loves Handsome Warren, p. 18)

When she considers dropping out:

“Maybe someday I will just be the Boss of Cookies instead!" (Junie B., First Grader Boss of Lunch, p. 76)

When her friends invite her to the lake for Labor Day:

“GOOD NEWS! I CAN COME TO THE LAKE WITH YOU, I BELIEVE!" (Junie B. Jones Smells Something Fishy, p. 17)

When her professor never enters grades on time:

“I rolled my eyes way up to the sky." (Junie B., First Grader Boss of Lunch, p. 38)

When her friends won't stop poking her on Facebook:

“Do not poke me one more time, and I mean it." (Junie B. Jones Smells Something Fishy, p. 7)

When she finds out she got a bad test grade:

“Then my eyes got a little bit wet. I wasn't crying, though." (Junie B. Jones and the Stupid Smelly Bus, p. 17)

When she isn't allowed to have a pet on campus but really wants one:


When she has to walk across campus in the dark:

“There's no such thing as monsters. There's no such thing as monsters." (Junie B. Jones Has a Monster Under Her Bed, p. 12)

When her boyfriend breaks her heart:

“I am a bachelorette. A bachelorette is when your boyfriend named Ricardo dumps you at recess. Only I wasn't actually expecting that terrible trouble." (Junie B. Jones Is (almost) a Flower Girl, p. 1)

When she paints her first canvas:

"And painting is the funnest thing I love!" (Junie B. Jones and her Big Fat Mouth, p. 61)

When her sorority takes stacked pictures:

“The biggie kids stand in the back. And the shortie kids stand in the front. I am a shortie kid. Only that is nothing to be ashamed of." (Junie B. Jones Has a Monster Under Her Bed, p. 7)

When she's had enough of the caf's food:

“Want to bake a lemon pie? A lemon pie would be fun, don't you think?" (Junie B. Jones Has a Monster Under Her Bed p. 34)

When she forgets about an exam:

“Speechless is when your mouth can't speech." (Junie B. Jones Loves Handsome Warren, p. 54)

When she finds out she has enough credits to graduate:

“A DIPLOMA! A DIPLOMA! I WILL LOVE A DIPLOMA!" (Junie B. Jones is a Graduation Girl p. 6)

When she gets home from college:

"IT'S ME! IT'S JUNIE B. JONES! I'M HOME FROM MY SCHOOL!" (Junie B. Jones and some Sneaky Peaky Spying p. 20)

Cover Image Credit: OrderOfBooks

Related Content

Connect with a generation
of new voices.

We are students, thinkers, influencers, and communities sharing our ideas with the world. Join our platform to create and discover content that actually matters to you.

Learn more Start Creating

Abortion Bans Are Only A Small Part Of The Republican War On Women

These bans expose the Republican Party for what it truly is.


This week, several states passed laws that ban abortion after six to eight weeks of pregnancy, before most women even know that they're pregnant. The most egregious of these is Alabama — the state has banned abortion except for in cases of danger to the mother. Exceptions in the cases of rape and incest were actively voted against by the state legislature. Under the new law, any doctor who is caught giving an abortion would be sentenced to 99 years in prison, and the woman would be charged with murder.

Apart from the fact that this explicitly violates the decision of Roe v. Wade (which is the point), this is only a small part of the slow but steady degradation of women's rights by Republicans in the United States. To anyone who believes that this is simply about people being "pro-life" or "saving the children," then tell them to look at what happens after the fetus is carried to term.

Republicans oppose forcing fathers to be involved in the lives of their children that were forcibly carried to term, desires to cut food stamps and make it more difficult to feed said child, cut funding for affordable housing to make it more difficult for them to find homes, cut spending to public education so these children can't move up the social ladder, and refuse to offer the woman or her child health insurance to keep them both healthy. What about efforts to prevent pregnancy? Republicans also oppose funding birth control and contraception, as well as opposing comprehensive sexual education. To them, the only feasible solution is to simply keep your legs shut. They oppose all of these things because it is, in their eyes, a violation of individual rights to force people to do something. The bill also makes women who get abortions felons, and felons can't vote. I'll let you finish putting those two together.

If you view it from this framework, it would seem like Republicans are being extremely hypocritical by violating the personal freedoms of pregnant women, but if you look at it from the view of restricting social mobility for women, then it makes perfect sense. The Republican dogma of "individual rights" and "personal responsibility" is a socially acceptable facade that they use to cover up their true intentions of protecting the status quo and protect those in power. About any Republican policy, ask yourself: does this disperse power or consolidate it? Whether it be education, healthcare, the environment, or the economy, Republicans love to keep power away from the average citizen and give it to the small number of people that they deem "deserving" of it because of their race, gender, wealth, or power. This is the case with abortion as well; Power is being taken from women, and being given back to men in a reversal of the Feminist Movement of the 1970s.

Republicans don't believe in systemic issues. They believe that everyone has the same opportunity to succeed regardless of what point they started. This is why they love capitalism so much. It acts as some sort of great filter in which only those who deserve power can make it to the top. It's also why they hate social policies; they think that helping people who can't help themselves changes the hierarchy in a negative way by giving people who don't "deserve" power, power. Of course, we know that just because you have money and power doesn't mean you earned it fair and square, and even if Republicans believe it, it wouldn't change anything because it wouldn't change how they want to distribute power.

In short, Republican policies, including abortion, leave the average American with less money, less protection, less education, worse health, less opportunity, fewer rights, and less freedom. This is NOT a side effect. This is the point. Regardless of what Republicans will tell you about "inalienable rights" and how everyone is equal, in reality, they believe that some people and groups are more deserving of rights than others, and the group that deserves rights the most are the ones "that will do the best with them." To Republicans, this group consists of the wealthy, the powerful, and the white — the mega-rich, the CEOs of large companies, gun owners and Christians.

So, who do Republicans think deserve power and give it to? People who look and think like them. This, however, begs the question: Who do they want to take it from?

Related Content

Facebook Comments