Conflict pushes Syrian-Armenians to their ancestral homeland

In the final few days of July 2012, conflict broke out between rebels and the Syrian regime in the ancient city of Aleppo. Sarkis Rshdouni’s father was driving him to the airport, opting for the longest route in order to avoid the fighting on the main road. But they couldn’t escape it entirely.

“It was my first time seeing a military helicopter firing,” Mr. Rshdouni said of the trip.

The threat of violence was not what compelled the now 26-year-old to leave. Rather, it was Syria’s political leanings after the death of former President Hafez Al-Assad and rise of his now-embattled son, Bashar. According to Mr. Rshdouni, a Syrian-Armenian, the country became more aligned with Turkey, and this affected his community.

Aleppo
Aleppo city centre, June 2012. “The neighbourhood is partly damaged due to the ongoing war,” says Sarkis Rshdouni.

“Syria still hasn’t recognized the Armenian genocide…so why should I live there?” said Mr. Rshdouni, who is studying for a B.A. in history at Yerevan State University and working in the tourism industry.

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U.S. Lacks Long-Term Strategy in the Fight Against ISIS

There is a lot of confusion about the American strategy toward the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). This is partially due to the President Obama’s lack of specificity and the shortsighted nature of Congress. The conversation now revolves around a question of how we can prevent “lone wolf” attacks at home, when perpetrators are inspired by ISIS or Al Qaeda-affiliated groups. But this still falls in the context of the war America currently fights against ISIS in the Middle East.

On Tuesday, congressional counterterrorism policy advisor Harlan Geer spoke to the Elliott School of International Affairs at George Washington University about Congress’ lack of a long-term strategy on the issue.

U.S. airstrike on Kobani
Smoke rises from the Syrian city of Kobani following an airstrike by the U.S.-led coalition in November (via Associated Press)

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