Problems For The People Of Syria

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Protest in Syria; image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Syria_Damascus_Douma_Protests_2011_-_22.jpgThere is trouble in another country in the Middle East. Since January, people in Syria have been protesting against their president, Bashar al-Assad. They want him to step down. They want democracy and a better life for themselves.

The leader is fighting back. Last Monday al-Assad sent thousands of troops to a city called Daraa, in Syria, to stop the people from protesting. His army set up in the centre of the southern city and placed people with rifles, called snipers, on rooftops to shoot anyone they thought was against the president. al-Assad took this step after some politicians in the area quit their jobs to show they were not happy with the president’s leadership.

On Monday, the president’s troops took fast and serious action. They went door-to-door with knives to scare the people. They shut off everyone’s electricity, water and cell phones. They set up checkpoints around the city to stop anyone who tried to move around. All journalists from other countries were forbidden to get near the attack area. On Tuesday, witnesses said that 25 people were killed.

The United States and the United Nations have said that Syria’s action was very wrong. The UN supports the people and says they have a right to choose whatever leader they want.

Syrian president Bashar al-Assad; image: Ricardo Stuckert/ABr; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Syria.BasharAlAssad.jpg
Bashar al-Assad is the president of Syria. Image: Ricardo Stuckert/ABr.

But the UN has not said anything about going to Syria to fight off the government forces like they did in Libya. Some experts say that it looks like they don’t care as much about Syria’s problems as they do about the problems in Egypt or Libya. The UN has said that both Mubarak (Egypt) and Gadhafi (Libya) must quit being leaders, but they haven’t said anything about al-Assad even though his attack was more hostile than many others.

Syria’s ambassador to the United Nations says the UN could not step in because any military response would be against a UN policy that sometimes forbids them from getting involved in a country’s problems if the country is a member of the United Nations.

CURRICULUM CONNECTIONS

Writing/Discussion Prompt
One definition of the word “intervention” is “To involve oneself in a situation so as to alter [change] or hinder [delay] an action or development” (www.thefreedictionary.com/intervention). Think of a time when you intervened in  a situation. Did you ask yourself questions before you intervened? What were they? Why was this question paired with today’s story?

Reading Prompt
Make a list of the similarities and differences between the events that have taken place in Egypt, Libya, and Syria. (You can use the Search feature on this website to find articles about these countries.) Overall, do you think the events in these countries are similar or different?

Junior
Extend understanding of texts by connecting the ideas in them to their own knowledge and experience, to other familiar texts, and to the world around them (OME, Reading: 1.6).

Intermediate
Extend understanding of texts, including increasingly complex or difficult texts, by connecting the ideas in them to their own knowledge, experience, and insights, to other familiar texts, and to the world around them (OME, Reading: 1.6).

Grammar Feature: Collective Nouns
An collective noun refers to a group of people or things. For example, today’s article includes several collective nouns:  troops, politicians, checkpoints, journalists, and cell phones.

Write 3 sentences that include 3 collective nouns in each (when you are done, you will have written a total of 9 collective nouns).