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If you haven’t been living under a rock recently, chances are good you’ve heard that things are happening  in Syria. Serious things. Dangerous things.

For many people, however, this may be all that they know. As a result, we thought it would be best to provide a Syria cheat sheet for you all so that you will have your ammunition ready when your professors, parents, friends, or that random person you met at the bars starts grilling you about what’s going on in the Middle East. So on this day after President Obama again urged Congress and the American people to act, PtB gives you your very own Syria cheat sheet:

Bashar Al-Assad:  President of Syria, Assad was recently accused of using chemical weapons on his own people to hold off opposition groups and retain his power.

Russia and China: Members of the U.N Security Council. They have veto power that could keep the U.N from making a unified effort of retaliation against Syria. China and Russia both have strategic interests within Syria. Russia has recently pushed for Syria to give up its stockpile of chemical weapons with hopes that the U.S will not bomb the country as a result.

Chemical Weapons Convention: An arms control agreement that outlaws the production, stockpiling, and used of chemical weapons and their precursors. Syria has been accused of breaking this agreement. As a result, the U.S and other countries have threatened to retaliate using strategic airstrikes on the Assad regime. Syria has very recently agreed to fall in line with this accord.

Free Syrian Army (FSA): The main opposition of Assad that arose from street protests. This group has since fractionalized and lost organization.

Jabhat al-Nursa: Radical Islamic force that pledged their allegiance to al-Qaeda. Has skirmished with the FSA and has also become a strong Assad opposition group.

Sunnis: The largest branch of Islam. Syria has a Sunni majority, yet the group has been marginalized in the past. The FSA is mostly Sunni.

Iran: Assad’s greatest ally during the Civil War. Iran has helped train Syrian troops and has provided arms to the Syrian Army.

Hezbollah: An Islamic military group and political party that has joined Assad in fighting the rebels.

Turkey and Jordan: Syria’s neighbors, refuges for hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees, and major supply channels for both the rebels and Assad’s forces.

Soak all of this in and impress that guy/girl while in line at Café Nova.

Stay tuned as the tense situation develops.

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