“We have to find a political solution, in offices and not with arms.”
So said Evgenia Chatziadamido, one of four students from three continents who discussed the causes and effects of Syria’s civil war during a recent online round table organized by News-Decoder.
The students spoke from Jordan, Greece, France and the United States during the event, hosted by Greens Farms Academy high school in the U.S. state of Connecticut.
Rami Rustom left his home in Aleppo, Syria, a year before the conflict began and now is finishing his studies at King’s Academy high school in Jordan. He noted “a very noticeable change in the fabric of Jordanian society,” especially in housing, education and health service.
“There’s an international diplomatic deadlock, abject humanitarian conditions within Syria and obviously the ripple effect throughout the region and the world,” said Rustom, who plans to attend the Massachusetts Institute of Technology next year.
Samyukt Kumar of Greens Farms said fighting in Syria had escalated due to the involvement of international players including Russia and the United States.
“Russia values Assad greatly because they want access to a warm-water naval port,” Kumar said, referring to Moscow’s ally, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
“Also, in terms of natural gas trade, they want to limit new pipelines going through Syria into Europe so they can maintain their own economic hold in terms of natural gas in Europe,” he said.
“The whole situation is not stable.”
The United States plans to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees over the next year, Kumar said, adding: “That number is not significant at all.”
Chatziadamido of Aristotle University in Greece said her city of Thessaloniki is hosting 52,000 Syrian refugees. “Generally the whole situation, politically and socially, is not stable,” she said.
Ally Oh of School Year Abroad France, a high school program, said the biggest change she has seen in France is the revival of French nationalism and growing support for the far-right National Front party.
Oh, who comes from the United States, said her perspective on Syria has changed during her year of study in France. Her U.S. friends regret the situation in Syria but feel far removed. “Living in France, listening to the opinions of the French people, meeting and speaking to refugees who have been placed here, has definitely given me a different perspective.”
“[The Syrian regime] has to be dealt with first.”
Looking to the U.S. presidential election in November, Kumar said: “On the Democratic side, the presumptive nominee, Hillary Clinton, by all indications would pursue a more aggressive foreign policy, one where she might put a no-fly zone in Syria.”
Rustom said Washington is not leading an attempt to resolve the Syrian crisis, and he doubted that they will do so in the near future.
The Syrian-American dual national said all aspects of the crisis lead back to the Assad regime. “This has to be dealt with first,” Rustom said.
The online event, hosted by Greens Farm’s World Perspectives Program, was the latest in a series of global webinars organized by News-Decoder for students, faculty and administrators of academic institutions in its pilot program. This week News-Decoder is hosting a discussion on the Panama Papers.