Deal or No Deal; Is International cooperation in Syria possible? In the Modern age, the major concern for conflict is a flashpoint spreading around the world like world war 2 and archbishop Ferdinand The most likely current candidate for this flashpoint is Syria, and the spreading of this conflict to the rest of the Middle East, more specifically Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Yemen, Bahrain, Syria, and Israel, commonly referred to as the Greater Arab Spring. The current conflict is driven by opposition government forces in the north and supports of President Bashar al-Assad; the conflict driven to a degree by ethnic groups conflicts, human rights, and freedom.
The Syrian conflict, in the context of this argument, is defined as the possible steps the international community may take to stop the ongoing conflict present in Syria and what are acceptable steps that the world can take to effectively and efficiently end the current issue. The current regime is spurring on numerous human rights violation, the threat of conflict spilling over into the greater Arab Spring, and possible weapons of mass destruction proliferation.
These actions must be the basis for having sufficient reasons for significant foreign aid, possible military intervention and political pressure to be applied against the current regime led by President Assad to assist in a popular overthrow to create a new coalition government. The current problems facing the country justify short term complications to ensure the long term effects and issues do not continue, despite the expected spike in conflict in the country.
With refugee populations expected to increase up to 300% (Weiss), civil rights violations abound, mass killings being reported (Syria Rebels), chemical weapon proliferation (Hambling), destabilizing of the Arab spring (US Preparing), and the inevitability that Assad will not be removed from power except by force unless political compromise is reached leads me to argue that intervention in Syria, despite the perpetuation of the current conflict, is the best course of action for the health of Syria and the Arab spring as a whole for the future.
The current situation, in the eyes of the international community, has warranted financial, military and political intervention and assistance to the Free Syrian Army coalition, A. K. A. the rebels, present in Syria. The current ties and alliances with Syria have been degrading to the point of nearly international isolation over recent actions. The Arab league has called for political discussion in Syria for steps toward the removal of Assad, and de facto allowed Israeli air strikes to go unchallenged (Prusher).
The governing bodies with jurisdiction in the region including ,NATO, the UN, and The Arab League have all backed political discussion or non-lethal aid to be provided to end the current conflict (Seelye), with the ICC moving to try members of the regime on crimes against humanity (LaFranchi). In addition, The Middle East has allowed for multiple Israeli airstrikes in order to remove the threat posed by chemical weapons in terrorist organizations (Prusher).
But above all, the deadly cocktail of humanitarian crises, arguably on the scale of genocide (Whitlow); the possible destabilization of the Arab spring with close ties to Iran in Syria; along with hostilities spilling over into Israel (Milne) may lead the Middle East to war. The current unwillingness for political dialogue and compromise between President Assad and the rebel coalition destines political intervention to fail (Dahl).
In addition the sending of armament to Syrian rebels in efforts to extradite the conflict thought Qatar and Saudi Arabia have largely only increased political pressure, and has not effectively shortened the military conflict (Sanger). Thus, while foreign international military aid from Brittan and the United States can have impact, it can do only so much in the face of such a complex and long term conflict.
While valid cases can be made that intervention will only destabilize the region (Milne) and that the aid provided so far is primarily reaching our enemy (Sanger), the current regime will only keep going, the conflict having potential to expand the refugee population 300% (Syria Refugee). I would argue that the conflict has reached a point of “mutual destruction” (Dahl) and that unless the balance is upset by international intervention there will be no victor, no democracy, only death (Dahl).
Despite the current situation posed in Syria, a breach of sovereignty would not be supported by the opposition or the government, regardless of its necessary. Some international factions supporting the Assad Regime, such as Russia, remains that the international community should not intervene whatsoever, military aid or otherwise (Russia Warns) and the feelings of the Free Syrian Army resistance take a similar stance, stopping short of military intervention, but moving for aid and weapons.
While the rebels generally support western ideals, the need for strong international allies to retain their bid for power has shifted international recognition and support (Syria Conflict) despite their flaws. While their tactics are more widely regarded than current Russian or Regime methods according to the UN and ICC investigation into crimes against humanity against the Assad regime (LaFranchi), the rebels have been accused of their own human rights violations, and should not just be taken at their word (Sanger).
This complex and shifting network of alliances and sources of foreign aid for both sides leads to the conclusion that indirect aid must be sufficient until those feelings changes or the situation on the grounds markedly evolves against the rebels to back foreign invasion. The current rebel forces have been working with improvised heavy weapons (Denton pic 3) and lack of ammunition (Denton pic 4) and without further military aid may not be to continue to mount a sufficient defense against the regime.
The international community must not only continue to support the rebels in Syria like the international community has done in the past with Libya and the Gadhafi regime of foreign military aid and training, then, if given the blessing of the Syrian people, could make targeted strikes to topple key points for the regime. The UN, NATO, and the Arab league, with blessing of the international community and the Syrian people must pledge military backing and support now, draw up plans of action, position troops and resources, and be ready for intervention the minute it is deemed necessary by the people or the international community to strike.
To create this force and draw up these plans, these bodies must follow in the success of the French intervention in Mali with effective, but limited assistance, not turning the public opinion of the people, but a force sanctioned by the populace to end conflict and to destroy key strongholds with limited loss of lie, with continued finical and military assistance and intelligence after the forces pull out of the country. They must not repeat the mistakes made by the US and NATO in Iraq and Afghanistan with massive invasion forces, actics ineffective against dug in and supported insurgents but follow past models of involvement that have been supported internally, by the people. For these reasons I believe that if international intervention is enacted, The US, NATO, and The Arab League must have effective forces prepared and ready to go if they are to make a mean full impact on Syria for the people, sanctioned by the people. But all these stated above efforts become pointless without a stable government.
Despite the necessity felt for intervention in Syria, some parts of the world, not least of all Syria, feel that international intervention must not be carried out, or will only further degrade the situation. The Russian Federation has recently condemned actions by France and Britain to veto renewed arms trade embargos to Syria in order to ship weapons to the rebels to end the conflict (Arming). The Russian government and the Islamic Republic of Iran support a hands-free approach in Syria, calling for political dialogue it the conflict.
They feel that not only does it breach the sovereignty of what they feel is a duly run nation, but that people will not support such actions. One major issue is that public sentiment is impossible to accurately judge due to lack of international journalists and only the state run TV to rely on for information of public sentiment. With this in mind, the opposition argues that the public is not still behind the Assad regime, and if they are given a chance for internal political dialogue between parties, progress can be made, but only if both sides are willing to compromise.
As paraphrased by the Russian foreign minister, “Only Syrians can decide the fate of Syria” (Russia Warns). In addition, the Iranian minster of foreign affairs, Ramin Mehmanparast has expressed similar sentiments against foreign intervention, pushing to support their one key remaining ally in the region. Russia and Iran aside, there are western politics who feel that international intervention and the removal of Assad will set off a powder keg in the Arab springs, and question if intervention at this point would be effective (Hof).
In addition, rebel troops have recently made many advances in Aleppo, shelling of Damascus and captured their key facilitate (Rebel’s Seize), pacing additional pressure on Assad for political discussion. This case has been made in conjunction with statements by the United States that Assad’s regime, while flawed is the only thing holding together the country, and not presenting another Pakistan/Afghanistan scenario of terrorism increase, extremism support, and collapse of limited American standing in the Middle East (Clawson).
While not all of these sources oppose military or non-military aid, they only do so with the premise to increase pressure on the regime to bring them to the negotiating table (Seelye). However, I feel that not only is the situation dead locked, but the current humanitarian situation and loss of life require intervention under UN’s guiding principles and the Geneva convention ruling, “such action by air, sea, or land forces as may be necessary to maintain or restore international peace and security. However this conflict will only escalate further till mutual destruction if not handled with the approval of the people. Syria must weather short term increased losses for the long term goal of ending the war, while limiting losses and restoring the country by continuing non-military and military aid to the country. That is why the mandates of the Russian and the Iranians are flawed. We must continue to support and create a new uniquely democratic and sustainable governmental system for both sides of the parties to cooperate within to ensure long term peace.
As paraphrased by an Afghani general in the Afghanistan war in 2006, “You automatically think of this democratic system of America, but that is not Afghanistan, that is not Pakistan. Each country must have a unique and popular sponsorship of the government or it will fail” (Camp Victory). This same logic applies to Syria; this war they are gridlocked is the result of a government not able to adapt, not adapted to the Middle East, not adapted to the diverse and incohesive people of Syria.
This conflict has resulted in losses upwards of 70,000 with millions displaced, with number of refuges expected to triple by the end of the war, losses compounding in a deadlocked conflict (Report Details). The children of Syria have faced extreme and traumatizing losses, 3 out of 4 having lost a family member, every single one growing up in a war, with many now, upwards of 2 million directly physically effected by the conflict(Syria Crises).
In addition to these children becoming the new lost generation on the local scale of World War Two, many are being recruited to the conflict under 18, and appeals being made to all regional groups, from Christians to Muslims, further showcasing the severity of the conflict and need for troops in a depleted army (Syria Crises). In addition, recent reports of an ever stretched thin Syrian national army shows the increasing momentum of the resistance movement (Exclusive: Syria), possibly driving the regime to desperate measure ranging from increased chemical attacks on citizens to increases strikes on civilian targets (Whitlow).
While a valid case can be made for lack of intervention in Syria for the sake of short term gains, a long term solution, despite severe but mitigable losses with sufficient international support, is what course must be taken if Syria is to be saved. The future of Syria is still undecided, what it will look like after the conflict up in the air, everyone agreeing only that an end must be reached soon. From a local perspective, the conflict is deeply dividing, as many ethnic groups have set into conflict over power.
To complicate matters, these northern rebels often lack strong central organization. And since the state media sources are controlled solely by the regime, Facebook and other social-media outlets closely monitored and primary available to pro-Assad supporters, it is hard if not impossible to get an accurate breakdown of alliances and support until the civil war ceases. The Facebook feeds denounce the terrorists, the news sources have ranged from statements that that “the rebels are few” (Daily Newscast… /03/13) to “the terrorists have been pushed back”; contradicting other sources, while downplaying the economic hardships facing the people (Daily Newscast… 3/03/13). The primary message embedded in the state media is that the world will not get the whole picture, only a partial truth and that until the conflict stops, it is nearly impossible to asses and establish a functioning and effective government backed and run by the majority of the people, while not ignoring or discriminating against the minority.
In review, despite significant political pressure by Russia, Syria and factions in the international community, the best course of action is a three -fold plan to end the crises of Syria. We must enact a military intervention structured around similar strikes and campaigns in Libya, Mali, and the early operations of Iraq and Afghanistan. Leading up to that military intervention, due to the current political situation, the international community must step up military and non-military foreign aid in efforts to increase political pressure for change in the Assad regime and its allies.
And third, once the current regime is taken out of power, a system for fair and judicial democratic elections structured to Syria must be conducted with international oversight to ensure the new government supports the views of the people (Karon), but is also able to be inclusive of the former regime minority basis of people, if not the persons in power previously.
While direct military may prove to not be needed if increased pressure forces political change, unless the preconditions as precisely described are meet and upheld, the end result will be a ‘total war” of genocide and civil rights violations that will spill over into the greater Arab spring area, creating a conflict with no foreseeable end. Unless this conflict ends, The State of Syria will become no more than groups of people displaced, lost, dead, or traumatized; the first lost state of the modern age.
Courtney from Study Moose
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