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Two local Syrian-Americans react to U.S. airstrike in Syria

Apr 7, 2017

After President Trump ordered the bombing of a Syrian air base, some members of the Syrian community in Michigan have voiced their support for the military action.

Dr. Abdalmajid Katranji is a Lansing-based hand surgeon who, since 2011, has also worked with various organizations to help victims of the Syrian civil war. Katranji says he also has family still living and Syria and other relatives who have spread “across the globe” because of the conflict.

Dana Mosa-Basha is a Syrian-American University of Michigan graduate pursuing her master’s in public policy, who has spent her “gap year” helping to resettle refugees.

Katranji and Mosa-Basha are just two people. They’re Syrian-Americans with close ties to the effects of the civil war in Syria. Together, they do not define a Syrian-American position on what the role of the United States should be regarding the conflict in Syria. But they both support the airstrike.

"This action by President Trump, and by our great military,” Katranji said, “it creates a new dialogue that says, 'Listen, this has gone far enough. There's going to be serious consequence to such action’. It's time for a new debate."

Katranji believes that becoming more involved in the conflict in Syria would benefit the national security of the U.S. He blames Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for “murdering” Syrian citizens and in effect, Katranji says, creating a global refugee crisis.

Katranji is hopeful that U.S. involvement could eventually help end the years-long civil war in Syria.

In regards to Trump, Katranji only says “there were some concerns” about Trump’s rhetoric during the presidential campaign and Trump’s early days in office.

That’s a sentiment echoed by Mosa-Basha.

“Until now I don’t think [the Trump administration] has gained any credibility, any respectability ... with especially the Syrian community,” Mosa-Basha said.

But, she says, ordering the air strike was significant.

“I wouldn’t say that it’s given me much hope or optimism,” Mosa-Basha said. “But at the same time I think this is a huge message to [Syrian President Bashar] Assad, ... and all others who have stood in the way of granting Syrians freedom.”

After the air-strike Mosa-Basha says she saw people on social media criticizing Trump for not welcoming more refugees.

She says that isn't the biggest problem for people in Syria.

“People are saying, ‘Oh, so how are you going to bomb Syria and get involved in Syria yet still turn their people away.' What people don't realize is that at the core of this refugee crisis stands Assad and his Regime,” Mosa-Basha said.

She’s glad to see U.S. intervention in Syria, something Mosa-Basha says she’s wanted for years, and considers a disappointment of the Obama administration, a president Mosa-Basha says she voted for twice.

Katranji says the immediate effect of the military action by the Trump administration may have been to change Assad’s perspective of the United States.

“I think he now understands, to use President Trump’s term, that it’s not just one red line that he’s crossed, but he crossed many lines,” Katranji said.

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