Syrians Continue to Resist the Country’s Partition

Syrians Continue to Resist the Country’s Partition

Protestors took to the streets in A’zaz, speaking out against the poor services and human rights violations which have become part of Turkish rule.

“The local council in the city bears the largest part of the responsibility for the low-quality services, especially electricity, because it is not doing its job and is not pressuring the company to improve its performance,” one protestor said in a statement. “As protesters, we have called on the resignation of the council and the election of a new council that would be better able to shoulder its responsibilities,” he added. Protestors blocked roads, burned tires, and graffitied walls. 

After two days, AK Energy promised to make improvements, and the protests ended. Ammar Khalif, one of the lead protestors, was not impressed. “We have received many promises about improving the electrical service in the city, but we have not seen anything yet. And the situation has gone from bad to worse,” he remarked.

The Breakup of Syria

In the United States, street protests are usually choreographed political events. Supposedly, during the Vietnam War, organizers from Students for a Democratic Society and other groups went from campus to campus setting up SDS chapters and then moving on. But in most other parts of the world, street protests are legitimate expressions. Since elections are frequently rigged, if they happen at all, there is no other way to effect change.

When countries fall into chaos, which is an apt description of the political and economic situation in Syria, neighboring countries often claim a slice of the troubled nation for themselves. Breakaway “republics” are common as well.

In the years before and during World War II, there was quite a bit of land-grabbing in Europe as the Nazi war machine rumbled over the continent. The Winter War between the Soviet Union and Finland, which lasted from November 1939 to March 1940, is a good example. 

Soviet dictator Josef Stalin invaded Finland to recover territory which it lost to Finland during the chaos of the Russian Revolution. Initially, the Finns offered stiff resistance. This strong stance emboldened American President Franklin Roosevelt, who was poised to send military aid to Finland. But then the Soviets sent in reinforcements, and that was that. The League of Nations, which was on its last legs, expelled the Soviet Union over the incident, but it is doubtful that anyone cared. 

The MENA (Middle East and North Africa)  region is no stranger to such activity either. South Sudan gained independence from Sudan in 2011. Many observers predicted, or at least hoped, that South Sudan would become a haven for indigenous Nilotic people, who live mostly in this region. Instead, South Sudan has largely been a failed state. It ranks third from the bottom on both the Global Peace Index and the UN’s World Happiness Report. Alas, that’s normally what happens in these situations.

Likewise, when the Turks invaded northern Syria in 2016, many government dissidents in Syria welcomed the move. Now, there is growing opposition to the occupation, both in Syria and in Turkey.

This chaos is not surprising, as Syria has never truly been one country. Turkey, back when it was the Ottoman Empire, once controlled the whole of what would become Syria, as well as Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Israel, and most of Saudi Arabia. Then, with World War I ongoing and its outcome still very much in doubt, British and French diplomats divided these holdings into spheres of influence, hoping for the Ottoman Empire’s defeat. The line they drew almost directly bisected the future Syria. So, the war-torn country has suffered through an almost endless series of foreign invasions and civil wars.

American Contractors and Rebuilding Syria 

Unrest on both sides of the Syria-Turkey border notwithstanding, it appears that the fighting is winding down in Syria, at least for now. Then, the herculean task of rebuilding the shattered country begins. According to most estimates, this rebuilding might cost more than the war.

At least initially, rebuilding will probably focus on large, capital projects, like roads, hospitals, airports, utilities, and schools. Until basic services like these are restored, most refugees will not return to Syria, so there will be little or no sense of normalcy.

Contractors play an important role in such projects, mostly as construction supervisors. These individuals hire local workers. Motivate them, and keep the project moving forward. Most private contractors have both construction experience and have served in that region.

These projects require security contractors, as well. A few security cameras and a high fence might deter vandals, but armed militants are a different story. These groups would like nothing better than to derail these projects and prolong the chaos.

Projects in cities like Aleppo are much different than similar projects in places like Anaheim, and not just because of these security issues. The United States, as well as individual states, have strong labor laws that protect workers. But no such laws exist in Syria, or if they do, they are not strictly enforced. As a result, workers are highly at risk for injuries like:

  • Falls,
  • Motor vehicle collision injuries,
  • Electrocutions,
  • Struck by objects, and
  • Caught between objects.

Occupational diseases, such as hearing loss and repetitive stress injuries, are also an issue at foreign construction sites.

Injury Compensation Available

If contractors suffer either a trauma injury or occupational disease while they are serving in an overseas war zone, the Defense Base Act pays all reasonably necessary medical bills. These expenses usually include everything from transportation to a hospital to the final day of physical or occupational therapy. 

Injured victims do not need to prove fault or negligence to obtain these benefits. Instead, they are available as long as there was a nexus (direct or indirect connection) between their deployments and their injuries.

If the victim sustains a permanent injury, and that injury is either totally or partially disabling, additional compensation is usually available for anticipated future medical expenses.

For more information about the claims process, contact Barnett, Lerner, Karsen, Frankel & Castro, P.A.