University News

Syria’s Conflict Spills Over to Cedar City

Published: October 22, 2014 | Author: Jessica Young | Category: Special Events

In daily news reports, people across the globe have heard of unrest in the Middle Eastern country of Syria. They have heard of a rebel revolution, a humanitarian crisis and a political strife, all of which are having a lasting effect on forging peace in Syria and the Middle East. 

In an effort to pull the curtain on the uncertainties surrounding the Syrian conflict, Southern Utah University’s Global Engagement Center will be hosting its annual Global Engagement Conference, Syria Now, to better educate the campus community of the lasting effects of the political revolution Thursday, October 23.

Though it may be a world away, the Global Engagement Center is bringing the conflict to Cedar City’s doorstep to ensure all are aware of the global impact one country is having, according to Dr. Kurt Harris, Center director.

“The world is in many ways smaller than we think, and Americans should make it a priority to learn about what is happening in Syria, and to the Syrian people, so that we can help the many displaced Syrians and contribute to bringing an end to the violence before it grows any further.”

With numerous countries making up the Middle East, Syria is said to be a keystone to finding peace, according to Eric Kirby, executive director of the Michael O. Leavitt Center and Syria Now conference speaker.

“When you understand the role that Syria plays in establishing peace in the Middle East you’ll understand why the US needs them and needs them on our side,” Kirby explained. “But they also have relationships with Russia and China that the US needs. It’s a complex systems and further proves that when dealing with a country, you are no longer dealing in isolation.”

With such a complex country and so much unrest with its citizens, it would only necessitate that Conference administrators would deliver speakers and performances that would explain all facets of the intricate nation.

Residing amongst those 22 million Syrian citizens is the parents of Rania Succar, among the 13 conference speakers and founder of Jusoor Syria — an organization seeking opportunities for Syrian refugees to receive an education — who will begin the Conference with a Convocation in the Hunter Conference Center’s Great Hall at 11:30 a.m. Her symposium will shed light on these refugees, titled Syria’s Lost Generation.

It’s not just refugees that are seeking solace in Syria. The vast country is made of several minority groups that are taking a hard hit with the current unrest plaguing the streets. There to speak for these fractions is Kholoud Al-Qubbaj, born in Palestine Al-Qubbaj states that it is necessary for all to understand why the US government is giving aid and attention to Syria.

She said, “Syria is a part of the Middle East, but is only one of numerous countries that make up that part of the world, but it has great influence, politically and socially. If we can begin to understand all of its complexities we will see a more complete picture of the importance of gaining peace in Syria and the Middle East.”

Adding to the complexity of Syria is the creation of the Muslim extremist group is ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria), which wants to establish a Muslim ruled Middle East and according to Dr. Michael Stathis, chair of SUU’s Department of Criminal Justice and Political Science, may be the beginning of a fourth Gulf War.

Stathis added, “The rise of ISIS and the political storm it has created is one that threatens to sweep up Syria and Iraq, but will likely draw in other countries and NATO allies.”

With forums ranging from Stathis’ hypothesis on ISISs’ actions leading to a possible war to Kholoud’s perspective on effects on Syria’s minority groups, the entire Global Engagement Conference will give a complete picture of Syrian conflict.

“No matter how much you know about what’s happening in the Middle East, attending this conference is necessary to learn about. What’s happening there will affect us here, you might as well be prepared,” said Kirby.

This conference will be the fourth organized by SUU’s Global Engagement Center.  Previous conferences focused on human trafficking, socio-economic development in Africa, and Afghanistan.

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