News of missile strike interrupts Loyola peace conference

News of missile strike in Syria interrupts Loyola University peace conference and locals there reflect on the news.

NEW ORLEANS - The U.S. missile strike in Syria was a shot, quickly heard around the world.

News of President Trump's first military action interrupted the annual Student Peace Conference on the Loyola University campus.

Eyewitness News sat down with three of the participants to talk about the strike. Senior History major, Summer Abukhomra called the attack, confusing. She is the daughter of a refugee from Iraq.

"While Assad is a horrible person and a lot of the things that we see going on in Syria are absolutely monstrous, it's still kind of reminiscent of the Iraq War," Abukhomra said.

The U.S. launched missiles at an air base in Syria, in response to the government of President Bashar al-Assad's use of chemical weapons against its own people. Loyola Middle East Studies Professor Behrooz Moazami, who is from Iran, says the strike could escalate hostilities in the region.

"It is the beginning of a very ugly phase, further militarization and intervention," Moazami said. "It's not going to be a simple act of bombing the airport, it's going to change the whole dynamic in the Middle East."

Nadim Shehadi, the Director of the Fares Center at the Fletcher School at Tufts University, is from Lebanon. He maintains had the U.S. acted sooner, lives could have been saved.

Shehadi said, "This is at least a return of the United States as a player. I think the absence of the United States as a player has had very grave consequences. Giving a dictator like Assad a license to kill is a guarantee that he will use it and he has. We have enough proof that this was a mistake."

Professor Shehadi welcomes further U.S. involvement in Syrian conflict.

"The United States can be a very positive force for stabilization in the region if it is back on the scene, meaning business," Shehadi said.

Professor Moazami disagrees.

"I don't think there is any military solution to the Middle Eastern problems," Moazami said. "This is a question of survival for the Syrian regime. If they have not been hesitant to kill their own people, they will not be hesitant to fight back."

Abukhomra, the Loyola student, organized a fundraiser this week for Syrian refugees

"A lot of our generation has seen what happened in Iraq because it was so recent," Abukhomra said.  "A lot of us won't support it. I think there are other alternatives that we can move to, instead of going into military intervention."

© 2017 WWL-TV


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