Click to Listen:Background on the Syrian Conflict as Explained by Dr. Kayali
The World Affairs Council of the Quad Cities hosted three speakers at its April meeting, all of whom had first-hand experience with the political upheaval in their home countries.
QC residents Aussama Bazaraa, from Egypt, Dr. Adnan Ismail, from Yemen, and Dr. Kayali, from Syria, described how life at home has changed for them and their families.
Dr. Kayali completed his medical training in Des Moines. While living in Iowa he and his wife gave birth to their two children. They decided to return to Syria in 2006 so their children could grow up near other family members, but at the urging of his mother, Dr. Kayali brought his family back to the U.S. in 2012 until life returns to normal in Syria.
Due to current events in Syria his story is featured. What follows are parts of his presentation at the World Affairs Council meeting and some answers to questions asked a week later.
Transcription, Part 1: I was born and raised in Syria. I went to medical school over there in my city called Aleppo, second largest city in Syria. I came to the states in 1990. I did my residency in pediatrics at Blank Children’s Hospital in Des Moines. My oldest was born there, my youngest was born here at Genesis. In 2006 my wife and I decided that we wanted to take our kids and go back to Syria and have them live with their cousins and uncles and grandparents and so on and we have been in Syria until the end of 2012. Because of everything going on in Syria, we decided to come back.
In Syria first we have Assad the father. So the father, Hafez al-Assad, led a coup, he was an officer and led a coup, took over in 1970. In the year 2000 he died of natural causes and the son took over. The problem was that his son was only 36 years old and the constitution says that the president should be at least 40 years old. The constitution was changed within a half hour.
There is no freedom of speech. There is all of corruption. There is no equality when it comes to … job opportunities or education opportunities. The police state was run by the police, by the intelligence service.
The question is not really what led to the Arab Spring but what took it so long … to happen. Henry Ford one time said, ‘Whether you think you can or you cannot, you are.’ Most of the Arabs felt that they cannot. We were putting up with all that corruption…with all that injustice and all of the people were on the borders. If any unrest happens they are going to starve the following day. They are working per day and earting whatever they are making that day. They have no reserve. So any unrest, any problem, that might affect their living and their family might starve.
So people put up with that until we saw what happened in Tunisia first, and people start to feel that yes, this can be done. And then Egypt; and we felt more empowered because Egypt is like a key country in the Middle East.
So because of everything going on, and because they felt that yes, we can do something about it and, the age of information when you can go to the Internet and see what’s going on in other parts of the world.