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Syria: intervention or non-intervention?

On 17 February 2012, a piece of news written by Kevin Ovenden in The Guardian stated this: ” Calls for aggressive intervention in Syria are growing as the country slides further into sectarian civil war. The shrillest are from the Republican right, joined this week by Israel’s foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman. The same people are campaigning for confrontation with Iran, threatening a major war. Elliot Abrams, a neoconservative architect of the Iraq disaster, spells out the connection: Syria, he says, provides a “proxy opportunity” to heat up the cold war with Tehran”.

As happened in Libya, “the war was purportedly to save lives. In fact, the killing intensified on all sides, including from Nato bombs. Estimates of the number dead reach 30,000. The outcome is not democracy and human rights. Amnesty International is the latest NGO to report the torturing to death of prisoners under the new regime and rival militias”.

The Tribune News, added in March through the reporter Vaishnav Sunil that “what distinguishes Syria from Libya is the nature of existing opposition within the country. Unlike Libya, where much of the coastal core of the population lived under rebel control, the opposition to Syria’s dictatorial president, Bashar al-Assad, has not achieved sustained control of any major population area. This implies that air power alone would probably not be sufficient to blunt the Assad loyalists entrenched in cities, and a heavy ground campaign would probably face stiff and bloody resistance. If a large region broke away from the regime en masse, international humanitarian intervention would become more viable. So although a mass homicide campaign is under way in Syria, there is no way to stop it without loss of unacceptable lives.”

Many political experts claim that militaryintervention in Syria would do more harm than good. Namely, Ed Husain, Senior fellow for Middle Eastern studies, Council on Foreign Relations, gives his view on the motion in “Economist Debates: Syria”. He believes that “military intervention in Syria is ill-conceived, short-sighted, counter-productive, and likely to generate more killings and massacres rather than stop them. Unlike any other Arab nation, Syria is home to varied and numerous assortments of religious sects, tribes, ethnicities and historic rivalries. In contrast to the uprisings in Yemen, Egypt and Libya, we have not witnessed high-level political and military defections inside Syria. And the largest cities in Syria—Damascus and Aleppo—have so far been relatively calm. Whatever the reasons—fear of, or support for, Bashar Assad—the opposition has thus failed to mobilise key constituencies inside Syria that would indicate to us that the regime is losing control”.

Nevertheless, there some few experst that are in favour of intervention. Shadi Hamid,director of research, Brooking Doha Center, states that “military action, in any context, should not be taken lightly. But neither should standing by and proposing measures that have, in Syria, so far failed to work. Opponents of intervention need to explain how staying the current course—hoping that diplomacy might work when it has not for nearly a year—is likely to resolve an increasingly deadly civil war”.


  1. Kevin Ovenden, 17-02-12, “Western Intervention in Syria will do more harm than good”. The Guardian. Retrieved: 05-05-12 from www.guardian.co.uk.
  2. Vaishnav Sunil, March 2012, “Syria: must the west take action?” The Tribune News. Retrieved: 05-05-12 from www.thenewstribune.com.
  3. Ed Husain, 10-02-12, “West must not intervene militarily in Syria”. CNN. Retrieved: 03-05-12 from http://www.edition.cnn.com.
  4. Shadi Hamid, 21-02-12, Economist Debates: Syria. The Economist. Retrieved 03-05-12  from www.economist.com.
  5. Charles Crawford, 27-03-12, “If it brings freedom, a bloody Syrian civil war may be preferable to slavery”. Syrian Freedom. Retrieved: 05-05-12 from www.syrianfreedomls.tumblr.com.
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