RALEIGH — About 30 people gathered in downtown Raleigh on Saturday to protest the United States’ potential military strike on Syria. They came from across the political spectrum, waving American flags and signs that called for peace.
The protest began hours after President Barack Obama called for the U.S. Congress to authorize a “limited” intervention in Syria’s two-year civil war. Obama’s proposed military strike has drawn criticism from several angles in this war-weary country, and the crowd along Peace Street seemed to represent all of them.
To some, it was a question of the role of government.
“An individual might feel a moral calling” to intervene, said Susan Hogarth, a self-described Libertarian Party activist. But if that’s the case, they “should get a plane and go to Damascus.”
Hogarth, a 46-year-old lab technician, said Obama’s “red line” against chemical weapons was a “trumped-up pretext” to go to war, and she questioned the difference between chemical attacks and the bullets and bombs that have killed more than 100,000 people in Syria already, according to the United Nations.
John Terribili, 39, brought his two sons to the sidewalk outside Mellow Mushroom to protest. He said that the international community, not the United States, has the responsibility of enforcing the ban on chemical weapons. A United Nations intervention is highly unlikely, considering that veto-wielding Russia supports the Assad regime.
But “I don’t think the United States takes the place of the United Nations in that case,” he said. And whatever chance remains for peaceful solutions, Terribili said, would erode further with a military strike.
Ferial Alawar of Raleigh has family in Syria. Her mother, sister, brothers and uncles are in Damascus, she said, and she wants peace no matter the victor, she said. She was unwilling to say whether she wants the Assad regime to survive.
When she talks with her family, she only asks “if they’re OK,” she said. “I wish I could do something for them, but I can’t.”
Rania Masri, who described herself as a spokeswoman for the protest, said a political solution was “the only answer.” The United Nations Security Council already is pushing for that compromise, she said, and she argued that the United States has no standing to intervene on moral grounds.
Kenney: 919-460-2608; Twitter: @KenneyOnCary