“The Middle East is in the midst of a cold war,” says WSU professor - The South End: News

“The Middle East is in the midst of a cold war,” says WSU professor

Malak Silmi | Posted: Tuesday, November 7, 2017 6:00 pm

Students Organize 4 Syria (SOS) held an informational lecture on Nov. 6 in the Student Center with Dr. Frederic Pearson, a Wayne State political science professor and director of the Center for Peace and Conflict Studies.

The theme of the evening was “History Repeating Itself” and was implemented in Pearson’s lecture which covered many revolutions that have occurred in the past in the Middle East.

Pearson began the lecture by stating the local, regional and global conflicts in Syria that have delayed responses and increased tension and warfare in the Middle East as a whole.

“The Middle East is in the midst of a cold war,” Pearson said.

On a local scale, Pearson said the issue is the civil war in Syria where hundreds of thousands have been killed and millions have been displaced internationally as refugees. 

The “cold war”—as Pearson dubbed it—is the regional tensions between Iran, who backs the Syrian government, and Saudi Arabia, who opposes the Syrian government.

On a global scale, Russia sided with the Syrian government and Iran, while the United States has sided against Iran and the Syrian government, Pearson said.

“We have had efforts to stop the violence and to stop the bloodshed, but they were aborted by various global elements,” Pearson said.

Little intervention by the United States and other Middle Eastern countries have been made in Syria because of the veto power available with the United Nations Security Council members, Russia and China, and their constant defense of the Syrian regime, Pearson explained.

“The US, among all countries, has been the least receptive to take in refugees,” Pearson said. “[Former President] Obama was pushing to get about 10,000 while Germany alone has taken in at least 100,000.”

The Arab Spring caused major destabilization in Syria when the people felt the need to protest their government, Pearson said. Yemen and the Gulf states—which includes Qatar, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia—are some other countries where distress and chaos have been prevalent and were also discussed regarding their crumbling state after the Arab Spring.

The difference with these countries is that they were “less successful” because of the Saudi control in the area and their complete shutdown of revolutions, Pearson said.

Whether or not Bashar Al-Assad, the current president of Syria, should be allowed to run for re-election in the future and after the end of this civil war, is debated between global powers and organizations.

Until then, Syria’s future and the reconstruction of the state is in question and the return of its people is unclear, Pearson said.

“It’s a human tragedy,” Pearson said.

SOS aims to inform students about the crisis in Syria as well as provide volunteering opportunities to aid local refugees. 

“We partnered with the Detroit mayor’s office and are trying to pair [WSU] students to visit and volunteer with refugee families in the metro-Detroit area,” event coordinator of SOS, Hira Majeed, said.

For more information on SOS initiatives and their upcoming events, check out their Facebook page.