Of Syria and Civil Wars

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Virinder Kaur
POLS 202-01: International Relations
Reaction Paper #1: Of Syrian Wars and US Foreign Policies
Due: October 4, 2012

Modern Syria first gained its independence in 1946, following many years of violent strife. Before this, the state had been under a French Mandate and had suffered under a conditional (or more aptly, false) independence, wherein the French State held veto power over any potential laws introduced by the Syrian people (US Dept. of State). In 1970, the Baath party came into political power in Syria in yet another bloody coup-d’état, with Minister of Defense, Hafiz al-Assad, taking up the mantle of President (US Dept. of State). He would remain in power up until his death in the year 2000. This would ultimately result in the appointment of his son, Bashar al-Assad, to the presidency, a position that would once more see civil malcontent and intrastate violence (US Dept. of State). Over the past 18 months, there have been ongoing violent conflicts in Syria between the Syrian government and various groups of rebel fighters (US Dept. of State). According to BBC News, this extremely bloody conflict within the state has instigated a multitude of international war crimes on the side of both the government and the rebel groups involved. The civil war in Syria began in mid-March of last year when citizens first openly protested against Assad’s administration (US Dept. of State). Shortly following the Syrian Army’s continued violent suppression of the protests, the situation quickly turned to armed rebellion, ultimately leading to 18 months of violent assault on the citizens of Syria by its government and by rebel/terrorist groups (US Dept. of State).

These continued violent uprisings in Syria are in no part a failure on the part of the United States foreign policies. In fact, the United States played very little role where the start of this conflict is in question. Beyond its support of the protestors’ cry for democratic proceedings, the US was not responsible for instigating violence on either front. Furthermore, the United States was openly critical of Assad’s earlier reaction to what had started out as peaceful protests. According to Al-Monitor News, the US financially supported the opposition to the Syrian government by granting a waiver to a Free Syrian Army (FSA) support group, also called the Syrian Support Group, or SSG, which is an NGO aiming to provide the FSA with intelligence, communications, and financial support (Rozen). The US, like most governments, is reluctant to strike any arms deals or provide lethal aid to the FSA and other loosely organized militant groups as they cannot control the violence of all of their members (Frieden). Any intervention beyond this would be unreasonable and a hazard to state interests of which, according to realists, in the hierarchy of issues facing the state, national and international security is most important (International Relations Text, 40). Direct involvement in the conflict will only further incite the violence as intervention by foreign states is believed to cause, not prevent, rebellion (Frieden). Al Arabiya News maintains that the United Kingdom and France have also provided similar support for the Syrian opposition. The UK offered monetary assistance and France offered non-lethal military aid (Al Arabiya). France, in particular, was adamant against becoming directly involved in the bloody conflict without UN support. Instead, it provided “means of communication and protection” for the FSA (Al Arabiya). France justifies its determination to avoid direct involvement by reiterating the mistake George W. Bush made when he independently decided to invade Iraq. France had also opposed that proposal and, in time, had proven correct (Al Arabiya).

Russia and China, on the other hand, are vehemently opposed to the UN’s resolution to impose force and economic sanctions, believing they are measures taken by American and European states to further...
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