Published on January 2012, Top Story
Geneva, Switzerland—In January 2011, a revolt began against Syria’s President Bashar Assad and his regime. Protesters demanded that President Assad step down. They demanded democratic elections from the Socialist president. Other demands included equal rights for the minority Kurdish people and freedom of speech for all. President Assad has not agreed to any of these demands.
The Syrian government used force, including tanks and guns, to stop protests. They withheld food, water, and electricity to discourage the protesters. At least 4,000 people have died so far. And now the United Nations has officially declared the situation to be civil war. In a civil war, the enemy is not a foreign nation—Syrians are fighting against other Syrians.
Mark Toner of the U.S. State Department says Mr. Assad has taken Syria down a dangerous path. Some members of Syria’s military have defected from the army to join the protest. The group calls itself the Free Syrian Army. Although they are outnumbered, they continue to protest and fight for the rights they believe are important.
In the city of Homs, shops are closed. Activists have named to the city “the capital of revolution.” Fighting between government troops and the Free Army is frequent. Many residents are afraid to leave their homes. The same is true in Damascus and other Syrian cities.
The European Union, the Arab League, and the country of Turkey recently announced sanctions against Syria. The sanctions are aimed at individuals and businesses supporting the government. Sanctions may restrict trade or freeze bank accounts. These restrictions are designed to hurt Syria’s economy, so that Syria’s leaders will change their policies. Many business owners who will suffer from the sanctions are those who contribute to President Assad’s causes. Without money from these contributors, his grip on power may be weakened. But in the meantime, it is certain that Syrian citizens are suffering more than their leaders, with no end to conflict in sight.
It has been said that absolute power corrupts absolutely. When the ruler of a country has absolute power, he may believe that he answers to no one. His choices may become self-centered and stubborn, and his decisions may be destructive. But the Bible tells us that everyone will eventually answer to God.
Every knee will bow before me; every tongue will confess to God. So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God. — Romans 14:11-12