The topic of the Middle East arises throughout the news again, whether this ranges from the television to the radio or even written in the newspaper. Why is it so important? How does this ongoing civil war have any impact on typical U.S. citizens, especially college students? Aren’t there better things to worry about other than the violence on the other side of the globe?
Syria has been encountering a cruel civil war for more than five years. President Bashar al-Assad, who is supported by Russia, stands against multiple moderate rebel groups, who are backed by the U.S., wanting Assad out of power. This fighting and tension has led to hundreds of thousands of deaths and millions of people leaving their homes as refugees in the European Union. This is a power vacuum that helped ISIS come to power.
This empty political progress is allowing extremists to fill the orderless space throughout the region by taking the opportunity to gain control of the territory.
As typical Americans continue on with their everyday schedules, troops across the world continue on with their daily lives of fighting against this war, hoping for a change.
More specifically, on Oct. 17, the Iraqi army, who are allies of the U.S., began their mission to fight terrorism by seizing control of the Islamic State territory of Mosul. While Mosul is one of Iraq’s largest cities, it is essentially the headquarters for ISIS members. Iraqi forces were able to defeat other minor ISIS territories, but Mosul remains resilient under ISIS control.
Just a few days later on Oct. 21, the fight continued as Iraq’s Prime Minister, Haider al-Abadi, reported that they gained territory on the outskirts of Mosul more efficiently than planned. However, ISIS militants resiliently fought back by killing an American soldier with a roadside bomb and striking an outskirts city, Kirkuk, with suicide bombers and gunmen in multiple areas including police stations, a Kurdish political party office and a power plant. President Barack Obama reacted to this by sending more troops to help fight against this battle.
However, it was not until several days later when Iraqi special forces began moving into Mosul, making progress and gaining access in the streets to battle against ISIS fighters. If the Iraqi troops are successful, the fight against ISIS may finally be one step closer to ending this terror group in the Middle East. But for now, the Iraqi troops are taking one step at a time, to try to restore the city from the war-torn violence.
A similar mission is in the process as two Syrian armies of U.S. alliances, such as the Kurdish and Arab rebel forces, launched an operation to reclaim the city of Raqqa. Raqqa is practically known as Syria’s capital for the ISIS grounds in the last two years. This city is in the district of the Sunni Muslim Islamic State and has been directing training camps and operations while also taking control of its civilian life by enforcing restaurants, banks, schools and mosques.
A statement issued by the Syria Democratic Forces, allies with the U.S., began their campaign Euphrates Anger on Nov. 5, which is planned to liberate Raqqa from ISIS militants. This assignment is supported by Brett McGurk, President Obama’s counter-Islamic State ambassador, who said that the “Raqqa campaign will proceed in phases, deliberate phases, there is an isolation phase which began today and subsequent phases to ensure we kick out Daesh out of Raqqa.”
Throughout the city, residents are warned to avoid places of gathering, since these areas will be targets for the operation. However, with advancements toward the battle, this city may be the breakthrough for both Iraq and Syria to overthrow the Islamic State.
And finally, while Aleppo has suffered in the news for the violence from Syria’s civil war, it never ceases to have a break. The Syrian government forces have made advancements in a district called 1070 Apartments from the rebel fighters, located southwest of Aleppo.
While a Syrian military member claimed that the army and forces help complete control of this area, two rebel groups in particular, the Fastaqim and Nour al-Din al-Zinki, claimed their insurgents are still trying to fight back. Even through all the chaos from the Russian air strikes, civilians are fighting their own battle of enduring this violence while standing together.
Because issues in the Middle East emerge everywhere in the media, U.S. citizens cannot run from it. They stand in peace on this land, but on the other side of the world, others endure misery with each day they can survive.