The more you know: ISIS, Syria and Iraq

Two weeks ago, over 24 world leaders met in Paris, pledging to use “whatever means necessary” to defeat the new global threat: ISIS.  While the U.S. is saying that over 40 countries have already offered to help fight the militant group, the Paris gathering marked one of the first coordinated international gatherings against the Islamic State.  The group, which formed in 1999 and swore allegiance to Osama bin Laden in 2004, has only recently claimed international media headlines with their seizure of vast amounts of lands in Syria throughout their brutal civil war. In recent months, ISIS has generated even more media coverage through the very publicized and brutal beheadings of Western hostages.

While I am by no means an expert on the terrorist group, it seems to me that despite their brutal history, even in the past year alone, it has only been with the recent murders of Western hostages that our media, and to some extent our world leaders, have begun to seriously cover, handle, or discuss dealing with ISIS, or getting seriously involved in Iraq and Syria.

Now, for numbers, stats and a little perspective on what these numbers would mean for SLU:

• 700: The number of al-Sheitaat tribe members executed by ISIS early this August.  It took them only two weeks to do so.

•5,500: The number of civilians killed in ISIS territory in the first six months of 2014.

• 1.2 million: The number of displaced in Iraq due to the current violence, according to the UN.

This is just ISIS.  If you look at the entire Syrian civil war, it gets worse.

• 191,000+: The death toll in the three-year conflict, as of August. At least 8,800 of whom are children.  Keep in mind, these are only deaths that have been recorded.

• 5.5 million: Children affected by the Syrian crises.

• 6.4 million: Internally displaced people (meaning people that are homeless) in Syria.

Don’t forget, there have been reports of chemical weapons being used on civilians, and 50 gallon barrels filled with explosives have been dropped on and obliterated entire neighborhoods.

Whether it is ISIS, rebels, or government forces doing the bulk, or any portion, of the violence that results in the above statistics, when the numbers begin to look this bad, all parties with any involvement must be stopped.

If the journalists were not so brutally murdered, would we have continued to allow these statistics to rise? Would many Western countries have all gathered in Paris if they were three journalists from Syrian papers? How far would we have gone before doing anything?

Please note, I am not at all belittling the deaths of the brave journalists trying to report the truth of what is going on.

I worked this past summer with the same peacekeeping organization that David Cawthorne Haines worked for before taking up the journalism post that he was captured in.  I’ve seen the stories of the great things these people have done.  But, the fact remains that thousands more people were killed before them, and they did not receive anywhere near a similar international response.

When people are dying in this fast and in this brutal of a fashion, foreign policy needs to be thrown out and the world needs to collectively decide that enough is enough.

191,000 dead, and counting.