PHOTOGRAPH BY ANDREW MCCONNELL / PANOS
Many Americans’ interpretation of President Donald Trumps’ attack on Syria as hypocritical, given his inability to open doors to refugees, has been discredited by refugees thanking the president for his interference, according to Kassem Eid, a 2013 Chemical Attack survivor from Syria.
“If you really care about refugees, if you really care about helping us, please help us stay in our countries. We don’t want to come to the U.S we want to stay in our country,” said Eid. Eid stated that the goal is not to travel to other countries but to fight until they establish safe zones and a stable country and that the United States was the most qualified to do so. According to Eid the only way to do so is to stop the wrongful attacks of Syrian President Bashaar Al Assad and similar dictators in the region. According to Nadine El Essawi, a Leslie College student from Egypt. President Trumps character is the “most qualified to stand up to a bully like President Al Assad.”
An unnamed CNN news anchor, who interviewed Eid, stated that Americans have labeled President Trumps actions as hypocritical. “This is a man that doesn’t want Syrians to come into his country with the Syrian Ban,” said the CNN anchor. During the interview, Eid said that those protesting were the ones being hypocritical. He stated “with all due respect, with all due respect, I didn’t see every single person who was demonstrating… I didn’t see you three days ago when people were gassed to death, when civilians were gassed to death, I didn’t see you in 2013 when fourteen-hundred people were gassed to death. I didn’t hear you raise your voice when Obamas… inaction in Syria that led us refugees- that made us refugees get kicked out of Syria…This is hypocrisy. If you really care help us stay in our country we don’t want to become refugees, help us establish safe zones.”
In an article by US News titield “Clinton, Democrats See the Hypocrisy in Trumps Syria Posture,” Hillary Clinton was quoted stating “we cannot speak in one breath of protecting Syrian babies and in the next close American doors to them.”
In response, President Trump spoke at a press conference at the White House. “I’m a flexible man,” he stated, “and I’m proud of that flexibility.” In a CNN article titled “I now have a responsibility when it Comes to Syria, ” President Trump said that he was not going to have the same attitude and method in all circumstances. He said that he was open to change his mind and approaches and was not going to have one form of operating. He described how the chemical attack on Syrians made him change his mind regarding the matters in Syria. “My attitude towards Syria and Assad changed very much,” said President Trump.
Many protested across the United States chanting and holding signs that read ‘Hands Off Syria’ and ‘Leave Syria Alone.’ Sara Jabbar, a Northeastern University student from Jeddah said she went to the protests thinking they were protesting the chemical violence and attacks on Syrians. However, “they are protesting violence and want the president to not interfere,” said Jabbar. Jabbar decided to watch the protests and not participate.
“We do not support war, but Syrians have been crying for help and it is time that someone stands up to a dictator,” said Mariam Almarzouki, a Northeastern University student from Kuwait. Loulwa Joukhdar, a graduate student at Northeastern University refused to join the protests. “I know that his actions may be hypocritical depending on how you look at it and the ban is bad. But that’s all politics.” Joukhdar found that people protesting for peace was not a realistic solution for the conflicts in Syria. “With a dictator, you must act and do whatever it takes to save these innocent people that are being tortured,” said Joukhdar. Also, adding that in some cases, especially when dealing with Arab dictators’ violence towards one can save violence towards a million others.
According to Nadine El Essawi, an Egyptian student at Leslie College, when it comes to the conflicts in the Middle East specifically in Syria they are “way past the point of making a change by promoting peace.” “It’s been six-years and matters only got worse, and the actions become more inhumane and violent. You will not stop it now by promoting peace. We need someone who can stand up to this ‘bully’ and there isn’t anyone better than trump to do so,” said El Essawi.
According to the Arab American Institute there are around 3.7 million Arabs in the United States located in all 50 states. With a high percentage of Arabs in America, many non-Arabs were shocked that Eid thanked the president instead of calling him out for his hypocrisy, according to a CNN article titled “Why Donald Trumps’ Travel Ban is Still a Muslim Ban.”
The ultimate objective, according to Al-Arabiya news correspondent Fadwá ElGallal, is to restore the Arab world and stabilize. “It is hardly a solution for all Arabs to evacuate their countries and move to the U.S or Canada, or Europe or what have you,” said ElGallal. “It’s only a solution for a limited time but we need people like President Trump to fight back so people can go home,” said ElGallal. According to ElGallal, Arabs appreciate the fact that President Trump acted, where former President Obama spoke greatly on the matter he did not take any direct action towards the violence in Syria. “I am a democrat, and I am not necessarily a ‘trump supporter,’ however I did like his choice to intervene. I’ve always known that republicans take more actions, although I do not agree with most of their views regarding abortion and such, but I find them to be more action-oriented politicians,” said ElGallal.
Hillary Clinton earlier spoke about Trumps administrations actions towards refugees. She said ““I hope this administration will move forward in a way that is both strategic and consistent with our values, and I also hope that they will recognize that we cannot in one breath speak of protecting Syrian babies and in the next close America’s doors to them.” According to ElGallal Trump did just that, “ he proved that America still stands by its values concerning violence and that America will continue to stand against people that will violate human rights which was a reassurance most people needed to know from him, according to ElGallal.