China Goes to Bat for Syria

China Goes to Bat for Syria

One of Beijing’s top diplomats expressed “unwavering support” for Syrian strongman Bashar al-Assad and said China was prepared “to make joint efforts with the Syrian side to continue to consolidate the traditional friendship between the two countries.”

Minister Wang Yi also stated that “China strongly supports Syria in safeguarding state sovereignty, territorial integrity and national dignity, and opposes any attempt to seek ‘regime change’ in Syria. All these comments come as U.S. President Joe Biden reiterated American policy in the region. This policy includes dondeming China, Russia, and Iran for their support of Assad in spite of his various human rights violations. “I would just add, as you know, just in Syria, we’re supporting Syrian Democratic Forces in their fight against ISIS,” a Pentagon official remarked. “That’s been quite successful, and that’s something that we’ll continue.”

Russia also ratcheted up its rhetoric in this area, accusing the United States and its allies of “an illegitimate stay in Syria of foreign military contingents, which impedes stabilization in occupied areas.”

Contractors in the Syrian Civil War

2011 Arab Spring protests successfully toppled longtime dictators in a number of countries throughout the Middle East. Assad survived the initial protests, but these efforts created a civil war. The local conflict has escalated into an international one. For example, Turkey took advantage of the chaos to seize some border territory. It now appears that this occupation is permanent. 

American private military contractors fought in Syria as well. No one is sure how many, because the census includes both Syria and some neighboring nations. However, we are sure about the contributions contractors made to the American war effort in Syria. That military effort has apparently come up short, but Assad’s days in power might still be numbered.

Like they do in Iraq and elsewhere, American private military contractors in Syria perform important support roles. These support roles include:

  • Training: Usually, the ultimate goal of any foreign intervention is to prop up a friendly government and leave. Training security forces is a vital part of that mission. Since contractors have unique experience in deterrence and anti-insurgency efforts, they are uniquely qualified to train foreign security forces.
  • Maintenance: Until recently, the world’s armies primarily relied on manpower over firepower, despite clear lessons that this approach was ineffective. As firepower moves to the forefront, contractors become more important. These individuals ensure that today’s sophisticated weapons are always ready to deploy.
  • Security: A contractor at a streetcorner is perhaps the most effective security measure a government can employ. Contractors deter militants and help people feel safer and more secure.

Note that offensive operations are not on this list. American law prohibits private military contractors from taking offensive actions overseas. That’s the primary difference between contractors and mercenaries. Furthermore, mercenaries work only for money. Contractors primarily fight for money, but they are also loyal to the United States. Contractors in Afghanistan wouldn’t switch sides to the Taliban if they were offered more money.

Contractors During Syria’s Reconstruction

American military contractors served in vital roles during the Syrian Civil War. When the war enters the rebuilding phase, contractor importance does not change.

Observers have long predicted that the cost of rebuilding Syria might exceed the cost of the war. But such efforts are vitally important. Until things like hospitals, schools, roads, and bridges are rebuilt, refugees will not return. Therefore, the situation remains volatile.

Syrian reconstruction will be even more difficult because of the Caesar Act and the COVID-19 pandemic. The 2020 Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act targets a number of Syrian industries and punishes Assad for alleged war crimes. “Caesar” is a pseudonym for a Syrian civilian who reported acts of torture. We all know what COVID-19 has done to countries around the world. The situation is better in the United States, but the virus still rages in many parts of the globe, including Syria. The war has strained the country’s fragile healthcare system past the breaking point.

Once the shooting stops, contractors will be responsible for much of the rebuilding effort, including:

  • Construction: Normally, stateside directors draw up project plans and local workers do most of the construction work. Contractors are usually onsite supervisors who motivate the workers and keep the project moving forward.
  • Security: In the United States, security at construction sites is not much of an issue. Theft and vandalism are the major problems. But overseas construction projects are different. Armed contractors must provide onsite security 24/7/365 to protect the people and the property.

Contractors still have jobs during rebuilding efforts. The serious injury risk remains as well, as outlined below.

Injury Compensation Available

Lost wage replacement might be the most important Defense Base Act benefit. Without it, stress over unpaid bills might make it impossible for many victims to recover.

Usually, lost wage replacement hinges on the victim’s Average Weekly Wage. Sometimes, AWW calculation is straightforward. Frequently, however, it is rather complex.

Past wages do not always accurately reflect future wages. Assume Chris is hurt in a car crash in Germany on his way to Syria. Since he is not technically deployed yet, his current wages might be different from his deployment wages. 

On a related note, Chris, DBA AWW should also include items like missed overtime opportunities and prorated signing bonus payments.

Furthermore, the AWW includes more than regular cash compensation. In addition to things like overtime and prorated bonus payments, as mentioned above, the AWW includes non cash compensation, such as housing allowances, per diems, and tuition reimbursement.

With these things in mind, let’s look at the different kinds of Defense Base Act wage replacement settlements:

  • Temporary Total Disability: TTD victims cannot work until they recover from their injuries. So, the DBA usually pays two-thirds of the victim’s AWW for the duration of that temporary disability.
  • Temporary Partial Disability: As they recover, many victims “graduate” from the TTD category to the TPD classification. These individuals can work, but they must reduce their hours or accept a light duty assignment. So, the DBA usually pays two-thirds of the difference between the old and new AWWs.
  • Permanent Partial Disability: Many PPD victims have trauma injuries which never fully heal. Others have occupational diseases which are partially disabling, such as deafness in one ear. In either case, the DBA usually pays a lump sum based on the nature and extent of the disability.
  • Permanent Total Disability: Roughly the same thing applied in PTD cases. Bear in mind that the D-word is not just a medical term. Some injuries are disabling to some people largely based on their vocational and educational background. Loss of a hand would be disabling for many people, but probably not disabling for a college professor.

A DBA claim can settle at any time. Usually, settlement negotiations begin in earnest after medical treatment is at least substantially complete. At that point, an attorney can determine a reasonable amount for future medical expenses. Unless the settlement accounts for such costs, the victim could be financially responsible for them.

For more information about available medical benefits, contact Barnett, Lerner, Karsen, Frankel & Castro, P.A.