Syrian Student Sees a Different Syria Than Most


On April 6, President Donald J. Trump ordered military strikes in Syria in response to a chemical attack on Syrian civilians. The strike took place at 5:40 p.m. PT (3:40 a.m. local time), when there would be minimal activity at an aircraft base.

Yara Obeid, a Syrian-American, is a junior at the University of New Haven and has a different look on the situation. Obeid’s father moved to the United States from Syria in the early 80s.

“My family lives only an hour away from where the strike took place. We called them as soon as we heard about the strike to make sure they were okay,” Obeid said.

About 90% of Obeid’s family lives in Syria, from both sides of the family.

“On my dads side, pretty much all his sisters and their kids live there. On my moms side, she has a sister that lives in Kuwait, one sister in France, and her brother and their kids along with their mom live in Syria,” Obeid said. She as many of second cousins living in Syria as well.

Obeid opened up about a few of her cousins who became refugees since the war has erupted.

“In Syria, they have something similar to a draft; however, the difference is that when a male reaches adult hood, which is 18, he has to serve in the army as a civic duty,” she said. “You can only be excused if you are going to college, or going out of the country for college. That is how my dad got out of it.  My uncle on the other hand served two years in the army before he got the opportunity to move here.”

Obeid has a cousin who is a refugee living in Sweden after serving in the army for 3 years. He had gotten several injuries and found it difficult to stop fighting.

“My cousin chose to be a refugee in the end and fled the country,” said Obeid.

Obeid gets upset about the way the media portrays what is going on in Syria. Her hometown luckily has been unaffected in the war so far, among other regions as well. However, the media only sheds light on the terror and grotesque images of dying children.

“I believe it is important to have others who are safe and lucky here in the states see some of the unspeakable things people endure in Syria, among many other countries as well,” she said. “But it sucks, because all people can associate the country with now is war and terrorism when there is so much that Syria has to offer, like their history and culture. No one even knew Syria existed until the war broke out a few years ago.”

Obeid said that she used to go to Syria every summer. However, she hasn’t been back in 11 years and has not seen her family since.

“My mom went to Syria two summers ago and she said it was very unsafe and scary. I’m afraid it will never be the same and I will never have a chance to go back and see my family.”

Obeid said that her parents were very scared after the strike because if war were to break out, her family would definitely be affected.

“We don’t identify with any of the political stances in Syria. There are so many different groups in the war right now. Over the years it became a cluster of different groups going against each other and it has become impossible to see who stands for who and who stands for what. At this point, we just want there to be peace,” Obeid said.

Obeid said that things that are completely different than what the media broadcasting.

“The media is completely misconstrued,” Obeid said. “Assad is not as horrible as the media made him out to be. He isn’t the greatest leader, either. But I’m tired of people pointing fingers at him for everything that is going on. It was proven that he wasn’t responsible for the chemical attacks.

“Over the years, America has disappointed me with the way the government has chosen to intervene in other countries. We have so many of our own problems here with homeless people and our veterans – to name a few – yet we poke our noses in other countries like Syria and Iraq, when we don’t even have the money to back it up, and in the end, its all just for political and monetary gains in the Middle East,” Obeid said.

Obeid believes the true way to help Syria and similar nations is to open America’s doors to refugees. She disagrees with the decision to launch military missions there.

“Throwing missiles at another country’s  airbase, regardless of whether it is empty or not, just reinforces that America is choosing violence to ‘create peace’ and we all have seen over time that violence has never created peace and rather, just fueled even more war,” she said.

Obeid said she is beyond grateful to be in this country. Obeid’s father was lucky enough to obtain a citizenship and bring a family over. Her father still reminds her that if it weren’t for this country, her and her family wouldn’t have the life that they have.

“There are people in Syria who wish they could come to America and see it as a success to move there,” Obeid said.

Obeid said that not everything was great, but it wasn’t as bad as the media makes it out to be. Obeid encourages people to learn the history, politics, and even the current civil war of Syria to really understand what is happening, and advises people to look at other sources other than news outlets to understand the background of the war.

“Don’t be quick to pick a side,” Obeid said. “Learn each side first before forming an opinion and stop taking in your information from opinionated news outlets. Journalism isn’t what it used to be before.”