SYRIA has been a bloodbath since the first uprisings on the 26th January 2011 and it is now estimated that over 9,000 people have lost their lives. The violence in Homs seems to have ceased but only due the fact Assad has crushed the opposition there. The world is debate about what to do; Assads regime is killing its own, and committing blatant human rights violations. Although Assad has agreed to Kofi Annan’s peace plan, there are still cries for us to get involved just like we did in Libya to stop any more blood shed. But can we really get involved? Can we really commit our already over-stretched armed forces to a conflict that has all the hallmarks of a civil war? Or is it our moral imperative to protect as many lives as we possible could, and despite the cost we have a duty to help? >>
1. There is a gross human rights violation
THE UN has highlighted the most prominent argument for our involvement in Syria, that being Bashar al-Assad and his government and military supporters are breaching people’s basic human rights. Those that protest against the government are faced with violent means, leading to serious harm and/or death. Bashar al -Assad ensures the infringement of the basic right to freedom of speech. The city of Deraa has been under siege since the 25th April 2011, many people have been killed, and there has been mass imprisonment and many disappearing. There is no electricity, no communication, no food supply, this is a clear breach of human rights, thus illustrating the moral obligation we have to become involved. Surely this complete and utter disrespect makes us move to do something, it seems absurd that we just sit by and observe these immoral killings and destruction of human life.
2. It is under state control
THE SYRIAN government controls newspapers, the internet, and radio stations. Everything in the media is controlled and censored by the state, and now the Syrian government has taken it a step even further by banning iPhones. The Syrian government is clearly trying to hide and prevent any information about the unethical and devastating events that are occurring. The regime has had it’s people under siege for forty years, argue the revolutionaries. With their public and private lives always being controlled and monitored, the West see this as an autocratic and totalitarian society, which must be freed. For Syria to be freed, the UK must get involved is a position one could take. We should get involved because it makes no sense for us to believe that one society should be run in a particular way, that being democratic and then not actually do anything about it, not actually get involved and help other societies become democratic. It is one thing to say that something is wrong and another to act upon it and make it right.
3. We should help Syria as we did Libya
IF THE UK helped Libya, why would we not do the same for Syria, is it fair or moral to help one country and not another? Many of the revolutionaries in Syria, including Lieutenant Waluta al Abdullah of the Free Syrian Army have told reporters that the West can help, we can help make the regime crumble. He says that if there was a no fly zone in Syria, just like the one the Nato imposed over Libya then the regime would be over. However they believe help is not on it’s way and the longer they are without help, everyday the conflict will deepen. It seems rather unfair to say the least that we would pick and chose which country deserves help, which lives deserve saving because at the end of the day a human life is a human life.
4. Sanctions are not enough
ON MAY 18th 2011, Obama imposed sanctions on the Syrian government. However a crucial issue is that the sanctions imposed on Bashar al – Assad are not good enough because they do not actually affect him. Bashar supposedly has billions stashed away so the imposition of sanction is on a whole ineffective and it therefore seems that we are doing nothing. This means that it could be argued that the only viable option of involvement is foreign military intervention. The position that sanctions are useless means that we should get more involved because right now we are doing nothing to protect innocent lives.
5. Use just war theory
MICHAEL WALZER argues that if a state is clearly acting against human rights then it is not only just for another state to intervene but it is a “moral obligation”. Therefore, this demonstrates that one could take a position that not to intervene and to not get involved would be immoral. The UN have clearly stated that over 5000 people have been killed. Navi Pillay told the UN Security Council that the “the widespread and systematic nature of the killings, the detentions, and the acts of torture” perpetrated by the Syrian authorities constituted crimes against humanity. “Inaction by the international community will embolden Syrian authorities, and ensure perpetrators go unpunished,” she added. Therefore using Walzer’s theory we have a moral obligation to intervene.
1. What about the Arab League
THE ARAB LEAGUE that is composed of 22 members has been dealing with the crisis, and surely they can resolve Syria without the help of the UK’s military. They are after all the League that led to Egypt’s Mubarak fall, it also had voted to suspend Gaddafi’s Libya and assisted with antigovernment forces there. The Arab League also ensured the crucial no fly zone vote in Libya, which enabled the Nato to play a decisive role in swinging the war to the rebels side. The League has been dealing with Syria, they have condemned, suspended and imposed sanctions on Syria, therefore there is no need for our intervention. What more can the UK do that the League is not doing?
2. Turkey should get involved
TURKEY being one of the neighbouring countries of Syria must have the capability and capacity to deal with Syria, it would seem unnecessary to bring troops and foreign help from so far away, geographically. Turkey has already been providing for the Free Army so why should we get involved if they already have help from Turkey? It is in the best interest of Turkey to resolve the problem in Syria because of the major influx of refugees into Turkey from Syria and the instability of vital trade routes linking Turkey to lucrative Arab markets made by the Syrian crisis. Therefore a position against our involvement would be that it is up to Turkey and other neighbouring countries to negotiate an exit strategy for Bashar to avoid the stark outcome of Civil war. Russia’s foreign minister accused the West of an “immoral” stance on Syria, saying it should also condemn the opposition, whom he accused of trying to provoke a “humanitarian catastrophe” to get foreign help. Russia joined China in October to block Western efforts to pass a Security Council resolution condemning the crackdown in Syria.
3. Sanctions are the safest way
A COUNTER argument depicting the usefulness of sanctions rather than the complete ineffective attribute is that sanctions are the safest and best option for the time being. Given Syria’s crucial geographical position it would not be favourable for the government to be overthrown. Bashar’s Syria is predominately Shia, however if the Sunni’s were to gain power in Syria, there would be a ripple effect in that it would boost the Sunni’s in Iraq politically dominant under the deceased Saddam Hussein.
4. Israel is affected
ANOTHER fundamental reason why the UK or USA should not have any foreign military intervention is that without Bashar leading Syria, Israel would be in even more trouble because Israel would be even less protected. Bashar over the years had at least made efforts to find peace with Israel and engage in a peace dialogue. So in some ways if Bashar’s regime was to come to an end it would not be favourable for the Israeli’s. Bashar’s regime could be seen as the favourable scenario because it has been proven containable. The BBC News reports that “ironically, Israel’s proximity and the sensitivities it arouses are the strongest deterrent to a Libya – style Western intervention in Syria.”
5. “Benevolent Neglect”
ROBIN LUSTIG writes in his Trying to Make Sense of the World a piece on Arab Uprising: Is it best to do nothing? that all revolutions have lead to rebuilding a new political order, such as the French, Communists and so on. However he does maintain that they are often “a difficult and unpredictable process.” Lustig draws upon Professor Walt’s theory of “benevolent neglect”. Professor Walt claims that “History… warns us that outside powers have at best limited influence over the outcomes of a genuine revolutionary process. Even well intentioned efforts to aid progressive forces can backfire, as can overt efforts to thwart them. Overall the policy of benevolent neglect may be a more prudent course.” (Professor Stephen Walt of Harvard University for Foreign Policy) Peter Harling, the Syrian Analyst of the International Crisis Group also takes this position, he writes that “at a time when the international community is feeling a compulsion to so something, the overriding principle should remain to do no harm”.