Peter Roper | Syria

Peter Roper is a student at the London School of Economics (LSE). He’s currently studying Syria as part of an undergraduate course called “Genocide”.

He read what you have been saying about the Syrian conflict, some of your questions have really made him think. Read his response here.

You said…

If the rebels are fighting for justice, why do they destroy monuments and murder innocent lives?

Girl Online, Graveney School

 

Peter responded…
Hi Girl Online. One of the most important things to understand about the war in Syria is that there are many different groups fighting for many different aims.

There are lots of different sides within Syria fighting against the Assad government but many of them are also fighting each other. On top of this there’s a lot of people from outside of Syria taking part in the fighting, some on the side President Assad and others against him.

Some of the rebel groups are fighting to have a new country for their people who have not been fairly represented by their governments in the past. Some of the other rebel groups want to impose their religion and way of life on all other people in Syria and nearby Iraq. This goes to show that just because a group is fighting against the Assad government, which has done lots of terrible things, it does not mean that they are fighting for justice; they might also want to do horrible things.

Another point to think about is that there are so many different objectives for the many groups fighting in Syria. Syrian people do not always know who is on their side and who is an enemy. In these very difficult situations sometimes people mistake civilians for enemies and attack them.

You said…

Could President Putin be using his power to manipulate President Asaad to start another world war?

JD, Chiltern Way Academy

 

Peter responded…
Hi JD. You are right to be suspicious of President Putin’s support for President Assad and this raises an important question, what are the objectives of all the other countries playing a role in the Syrian war?

Russia, Iran, Turkey, America and other countries have all used their militaries to try and influence the outcome of the fighting in different directions. Syria is just one country in a part of the world that has lots of natural resources. The outcome of this war will affect who calls Syria an ally and allies will hold a stronger position in the region.

It is important to think about why any other country might want to get involved in the fighting, including the United Kingdom and America. Any country can say that they are getting involved to try and help the Syrian people, but this may not actually be the case.

I don’t think that President Putin wants to start a world war but the interests of different countries could lead to more conflict in places outside of Syria. So, it is important to consider how other countries might react to any kind of intervention by the UK, to avoid escalation.

You said…

How far is Britain willing to help, are they going to physically involve themselves by bombing others or are they going to help in ways of humanity, such as taking in more refugees?

An Inspired Vision, Barnhill Community High School

 

Peter responded…
Hi An Inspired Vision, this is an important question. There are a number of different ways Britain could intervene in Syria. So far, Britain has provided equipment to some opposition groups and bombed ISIL fighters.

One of the problems with bombing Syria is that a lot of the fighting taking place happens in and around innocent people’s homes which are then destroyed. This, in turn, increases the number of refugees. I believe Britain should make greater efforts to take in refugees. The number of refugees in mainland Europe is much higher than in Britain and many countries are struggling to cope. Many  refugees live in horrendous conditions. If they were more evenly spread between countries the conditions could be improved, even if only a little bit.

You said…

Should we really put our country in danger?

Familylovedrl, Barnhill Community High School

 

Peter responded…

Hi Familylovedrl. Before any intervention, it is important to look into the risks and possible effects in a lot of detail so that you can have an idea of what might happen. Rushing into military action without proper consideration of the consequences can cause very bad outcomes.

It is also important to think about what might happen if we do not act. There are powerful groups in Syria who would like to hurt our country, by not taking any action we might allow them to grow stronger and face a different kind of danger further down the line.

You said…

Due to the amount of conflict and tension around the world caused by the conflict in Syria it’s very difficult to try to take action there, resulting in the right solution. How can we ever find a solution to a problem which is so subjective?

Grace Academy Coventry

 

Peter responded…
Hi Burnet News Club Members. The conflict in Syria is indeed very complicated, with powerful countries like Turkey, Russia and America all wanting different things. I think for any solution to be successful it will require those three countries to compromise on their objectives in Syria.

There have been positive signs recently, just before the new year Turkey and Russia (who are supporting different sides) managed to secure a ceasefire deal. This has been quite successful so far. Turkey has also just announced that the Americans will be invited to the next round of peace talks which is another good sign. However, even if these talks are successful it will not completely stop the fighting in Syria as the deals do not cover powerful terrorist groups like ISIL.

Turkey just announced that the Americans will be invited to the next round of peace talks which is another good sign. However, even if these talks are successful it will not completely stop the fighting in Syria as the deals do not cover powerful terrorist groups like ISIL.

You said…
‘War: What Is The Difference Between Good And Bad?’ by VulneraSanentur4 from Faringdon Community College.

 

 

 

Peter responded…

Hi VulneraSanetur4. That’s some interesting thoughts you have on ‘good’ and ‘bad’ in wars.

You are right that in wars people always see their own side as the ‘good’ side but I would say that whether a side is actually fighting for good or bad depends on their objectives. For example if people are fighting to protect others then I would consider them to be fighting for good.

In reality most people fighting often have a legitimate reason to be angry, and wars are never really as simple as good guys and bad guys. Also sometimes a side that I would consider to be fighting for ‘good’ reasons can do very bad things. For example, during World War 2 the allies bombed the German city of Dresden killing thousands of civilians. Dresden didn’t have any significant military or industrial targets meaning that the bombing wasn’t directly helping the war effort.

You said…

Peter responded…
Hi Burnet News Club Members. That’s a good summary of how the Syrian conflict started. Since the war began, about 6 years ago, things have a got a lot more complicated in Syria. It’s no longer just anti-government rebels fighting the Assad government.

The main groups involved are:

  • the Assad government, which controls areas with about 66% of the Syrian population
  • the Syrian Opposition, which does not control as much of Syria
  • an extremist group called ISIL, which controls a lot of land
  • the Syrian Democratic Forces, who are based in Northern Syria and control more people than ISIL controls.

The Syrian Democratic Forces are mainly fighting against ISIL but are also fighting the government and they have received support from countries like the UK and America.

The Syrian Opposition is actually made up of lots of smaller groups but they are fighting against ISIL and the government. Some members of the Syrian Opposition are helped by Turkey. To make things more complicated, the Russian and Iranian governments have also been helping the Assad government.

You said…

Personally, we have mixed opinions on this crucial matter of intervention. Firstly, we believe Britain should enforce no-fly-zones in critically targeted and main cities to protect and save Syrian Citizens. This will shield citizens and children from bombs and danger. However, we also believe that sending weapons and supplies could end up in the wrong hands: Islamic State or the Syrian Government. If this occurred it would strengthen terrorists and other forces on the opposite side, provoking more disastrous dangers and killing.

William Tyndale Primary School

Peter responded…

Hi Burnet News Club Members. No fly zones are one option for trying to help the Syrian people, but they might actually lead to more conflict. The problem with no fly zones is that there are lots of Russian warplanes in the area, to effectively enforce a no-fly zone Britain would have to be willing to shoot down any Russian planes that entered the zone.

The Russians are very unlikely to stop what they are doing just because the British and Americans tell them to, meaning they would continue to fly in the zones. If a Russian plane was shot down by Britain or America it would cause a lot of tension and could lead to an escalation in the conflict.

You are right about the risks when sending weapons. When the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in the 1980s the Americans gave weapons to groups in Afghanistan.  Later, those weapons were used against them during the American invasion of Afghanistan in 2001. It’s a very difficult situation and deciding on the best method of helping is not easy.

You said…

My opinion about this is that the UK is not at its strongest point- from leaving the EU to giving money to fund wars. Thus, making our country bankrupt soon. Therefore, I believe that that the UK should not be giving money to fund wars. Wars are overall a negative thing and shouldn’t have money put towards them. However, the UK are doing a good thing if you look at it as people can fight against the other side. But, overall I still think that war is a horrible thing, that takes innocent lives. Therefore, we should not fund for war and get our country drawn into other problems.

By AK & SN – Villiers High School

Peter responded…

Hi AK & SN. The UK is indeed facing a period of uncertainty following the EU referendum and you could be right, maybe it isn’t the right time to get involved in fighting wars far away.

That said, there are ways we can help the Syrian people without funding the war, such as taking in more refugees and sending supplies.

Whether or not it is right for the UK to intervene militarily is also a complex question, we can’t just think about the dangers of getting involved in the conflict, we must also think about the risks of not getting involved. How the Syrian conflict is resolved will have impacts that are felt much wider than just Syria.

The peace process, however long it takes, will involve lots of different countries and it will shape the future of the region. Depending on how this happens it could lead to different problems for the UK further down the line. I don’t know if military intervention is the right thing to do, but there are risks either way that need to be considered.

35 Comments

  1. Ravenscroft Primary School Ravenscroft Primary School

    I have mixed opinions about the topic because joining and helping will cause controversy because of Russia, Turkey and other countries but not helping will make even more controversy because we support the rebels and not helping the rebels will make the rebels more weaker and weaker until they fail and get killed, or they will surrender leaving the people who despise the corrupt government of Syria will have no protection or supplies.
    Dark Raven#1

    • Willowtown Primary School Willowtown Primary School

      that is so very true because I wouldn’t like to get involved but i would also like to help inicont people from Syria from dying without us dying.

      the fabulous 1

      • BNC Expert Contributor

        I have similar opinions to both of you, I think that if the UK can help the Syrian people then it should, but the situation is very complicated. We cannot be certain if getting involved will actually help. We may in-fact make things worse. This is why I believe that any action we do take should be carefully considered. We should not rush in immediately to situations we do not properly understand.

        Peter

  2. Ravenscroft Primary School Ravenscroft Primary School

    My opinion on Syria:
    I think the UK shouldn’t be getting involved with the war because the last time we tried to help we made things even worse. Also there’s also no good or bad side in war let me give you an example. Adolf Hitler wanted all the Jews dead and all black people dead and he thought it was the right thing to do. Then the UK said he was doing the wrong thing so both thought they were doing the right thing.
    PhantomRaven#1

    • BNC Expert Contributor

      That’s a very reasonable side to take. I am also hesitant to support any action taking by the UK in Syria. Mainly because of our government’s consistently poor decision making in similar circumstances. I think that you are approaching the ‘good’ or ‘bad’ debate from a different angle to me. I understand your point that each side thinks they are ‘good’ and agree. For me the question of good and bad is not about peoples opinions, rather it is about definite actions that are either good or bad. If the actions taken are done so with the intention to reduce suffering then I see them as good. This is because I cannot see how suffering can be considered a good thing. However some people would disagree and argue that all actions are completely meaningless.

      Peter

  3. North Beckton Primary School North Beckton Primary School

    I think that Britain should help with the war because the refugees are coming here and I also think that they need to start interfering if the war gets to out of hand.However, if Britain don’t interfere then the war might cause a lot of mischief and even more people will come here.
    NewsBlast

    • Arnhem Wharf Primary School Arnhem Wharf Primary School

      I agree Britain should help and we CAN let Syrian refugees in because the number of refugees are increasing and they need a place to stay . On the other hand some people might think the opposite because you don’t know their pasts and might be a threat to our country . But to be honest I think we should get involved but not physically .

      – Nafs_ThatBlogger

      • BNC Expert Contributor

        You are right, not intervening could lead to more refugees fleeing Syria but so could intervening. I think that to help Britain should take in more refugees. The argument that some of them are bad people and could be a risk is completely valid. Some of the refugees will do bad things and some of them will be dangerous. However I do not see this as a reason to not let them in. We do not stop people having children because they might grow up to do bad things, which is exactly the same logic.

        Peter

        • Arnhem Wharf Primary School Arnhem Wharf Primary School

          If you put it that way then I understand. I also completely agree .

          – Nafs_ThatBlogger

      • Arnhem Wharf Primary School Arnhem Wharf Primary School

        I agree with you, especially about the part of getting involved but not physically. If we get involved but physically we might make the civil war even bigger and may create a world war 3. But we can intervene without any violence by giving them supplies such as toiletries, cloths and food.

        Blogger 246

  4. Arnhem Wharf Primary School Arnhem Wharf Primary School

    Hi peter,
    Is it possible there is going to be a world war three or will Britain be involved in syrias civil war – kamzone22a

    • Arnhem Wharf Primary School Arnhem Wharf Primary School

      Their Might Be I Don’t Know

      – Nafs_ThatBlogger

      • BNC Expert Contributor

        A world war is possible but I do not think it is very likely. My main reason for this is that I do not think that a world war is in the interest of any of the major powers involved in the conflict. Britain is also already involved in the Syrian civil war, the question is whether we should get more involved or not.

        Peter

  5. Arnhem Wharf Primary School Arnhem Wharf Primary School

    Hey Peter,
    I think Britain should get involved because lots of civilians need homes; Most homes are being destroyed right now, people are dieing now as well. Even though the UK ain’t the biggest country they are good at helping people and defending other country’s.

    C.H blogger

    • BNC Expert Contributor

      I would disagree with you that overall the UK has been good at helping people and defending other countries. In recent times military interventions by the UK have massively destabilised countries and played a part in spreading conflict. That does not mean that the UK cannot help. The UK is a relatively powerful country and if it acts in a more responsible and considered way it could help people.

      Peter

  6. Arnhem Wharf Primary School Arnhem Wharf Primary School

    Hay Peter,
    How do the civilians get to the safe countrys without having food and water
    D.k blogger

    • BNC Expert Contributor

      Hi D.k blogger, the refugees take what food and water they can carry with them. They also collect some on the way.

      Peter

  7. Hanwell Fields Community School Hanwell Fields Community School

    I agree with No Fly-Zone because if there was no fly zone all those innocent civilians will get attacked for no reason. All civilians will get killed and if we don’t fight back, president Assad might keep killing people and he could get stronger and stronger by the minute if know body does anything to help the civilians.

    Koolcat123

    • Willowtown Primary School Willowtown Primary School

      i do agree with, but i still have my own opinion. soooooo……. first of all, i only agree with the part when you said there wouldn’t be any fly zone so they wont die…

      TheFabTastic101

  8. St Peter's Primary School St Peter's Primary School

    Wow Peter, what an interesting job!!!!! Your blog really got me thinking… I actually disagree with you because I feel as though President Putin is such a slippery character, how can you trust him with not wanting to start a world war/ war because of who he is? (Anyone else, please feel free to contradict/ debate with me on this point!)
    However, I do also agree with you on the argument that there i not always a good/bad side in war as well!
    Also, how do you as a question to the special guest because I’d like to!
    Bluejournal

    • BNC Expert Contributor

      Hi Bluejournal,

      I don’t think that there will be a World War because I don’t think it is in the interests of President Putin. Russia is a very powerful country but it does not have the military or industrial strength to win a World War. You may not trust President Putin but he will be aware of this and wouldn’t act in a way that threatens his position.

      Peter

    • Hello Bluejournal. You also have a reply from Hugh Fenton. Read it here: http://bit.ly/BNCRedCrossEC

  9. Napier Community Primary School Napier Community Primary School

    I have mixed opinions because on one side people need our help but if we do that we are giving up lots of our soldiers, which is going to make it complicated if Russia attacks us, because we will help the rebels and they will help President Assad.
    Pika2

    • Willowtown Primary School Willowtown Primary School

      agreeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee
      TheFabTastic101

  10. Willowtown Primary School Willowtown Primary School

    My opinion is that Britain should wait a year because then there is a better chance we’d make a good decision. But if the British Army (RAF, Royal Navy, Army) joins the war it would only make it bigger and France and America would probably then join and would probably then become a WW3. Just saying, but if we join that means even more civilians will get killed either way but if we join more people would die…!

    -InfinityWolf2006

  11. St Mary's and St John's Church of England School St Mary's and St John's Church of England School

    Hi, I think that the UK and other countries should let Syrians in because put yourself in their position a dangerous war has started which you have nothing to do with, but for some reason your being affected.
    It’s hard, and they need us to support them.They are probably feeling scared, nervous, cold and very hungry.

  12. Hello Burnet News Club members.

    There’s been a lot of discussion on the Hub about the likelihood of World War III, and suggestions that other countries might decide to turn the conflict towards Britain, resulting in our country being bombed.

    I want to make some things really clear.

    1. We have been involved in other conflicts in the past and Britain has not been bombed as a result. For example, Iraq, Afghanistan and Kosovo.

    2. In the UK we have special groups of people who are there to keep us all safe. This includes the police, the government and MI5.

    3. Internationally there are also groups of countries who do a lot of work to keep everyone safe from conflict. For example, NATO or the UN Security Control.

    Do some research and find out what these groups do to all keep us safe.

  13. King Edward VI Academy King Edward VI Academy

    I agree with you because with out us they will have no food and no money and they is a war coming up and they have no wear to go and I bet there very scared that they may die.

  14. King Edward VI Academy King Edward VI Academy

    I think i agree im not sure becuaseq

  15. King Edward VI Academy King Edward VI Academy

    no because cause wars and lodes of dramas

    by thecrazycommenter

  16. Colegrave Primary School Colegrave Primary School

    Whats up i think your post is amazing i hope you could see our faces.
    kitty cake quest

  17. St Mary's and St John's Church of England School St Mary's and St John's Church of England School

    I agree as well because I wouldn’t like to get involved but I also would like to stop innocent people from Syria from dying. We should not create a bigger conflict.
    EcHo7360

    • St Mary's and St John's Church of England School St Mary's and St John's Church of England School

      EcHo7360 I agree and disagree with your views because if we do get involved we could help the Syrian people and it could also create a bigger war.

      unique31