Syrian Conflict. Dilemmas and Challenges in Peaceful Settlement

Why are International actors taking too much time to intervene in the Syrian conflict and how can a peaceful conflict settlement be found?

Academic Paper, 2013

25 Pages, Grade: Excellent



1. Introduction

2. Research Question

3. Hypothesis

4. Part one: Analyzing the Syrian conflict
4.1 Syria - Country profile
4.2 How and why the Syrian conflict began.
4.3 Opposition rebel groups
4.4 The Regional Actors and their interests.
4.5 Global actors and their interests
4.6 Who is supplying weapons in Syrian Conflict?

5. Part two: Why is the Syrian conflict taking too long to resolve?
5.1 The R2P: the complexity and challenges in Intervention.
5.2 A common unified opposition is required
5.3 Spoilers
5.4 Fear of Peace
5.5 G8 leaders with no joint declaration
5.6 Obama administration’s new move

6. Part three - Recommendations: How a peaceful conflict settlement can be achieved?
6.1 Managing Syrian conflict.
6.2 Why United Nations Mediation attempt towards Syrian Conflict failed?
6.3 United Nations Actions in Syria as mediator
6.4 A peaceful settlement approach offered by the International Peace Initiative for Syria
6.5 Declaring Syria as a threat for peace

7. In Conclusion: No conclusion - The Cost of Syrian conflict.

References and Bibliographies

1. Introduction

Current report shows more than 100000 people dead (Reuters 2013), as of June 14, 2013 an estimated more than 1.63 million refugees had fled Syria and total may reach 3.5 million by year’s end. Upwards of 4.25 million Syrians may be internally displaced (U.S. Congress 2013), yet many have remained in Syria and are trying to carry on with their daily lives, living amid the violence. (VOA 2013)

Every conflict is different and every case has different interests and interest groups. Dealing with the Syrian conflict a common question I hear is why International actors are taking too much time to intervene and resolve this conflict whereas it was quick in responding to the Libyan crisis. To me it seems, International community is shadowing Luttwak's theory “give war a chance”- meaning let war go, it will die itself and will bring a peaceful outcome at the end of the day. There are obviously reasons why the Syrian conflict is so different and why it is so complicated to resolve. I will detail and analyze some of these factors in the recommendations section, my research focuses on how the Syrian conflict can be managed.

The U.N. cannot act without an unanimous mandate from the Security Council. Two of the five permanent Security Council members, Russia and China, have blocked any tough Council resolutions against the regime. On the other hand, U.S., UK and France seek conditions that are in their interest. China and Russia veto doing anything against the Assad regime. Important regional actors like Iran, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar are playing different roles with different interests, thus making the Syrian conflict even more complex to handle.

2. Research Question

Why International actors are taking too much time to intervene in the Syrian conflict and how a peaceful conflict settlement can be found?

3. Hypothesis

Various interests of Regional and International Actors, fear of peace, no unified and illegitimate opposition platforms delaying peaceful settlement of the Syrian Conflict.

Explanatory hypothesis

Regional actors like Saudi Arabia, Israel, Iran and Turkey has different political goals beneath the Syrian conflict, as do the International actors like Russia, U.S., China and EU nations. A peaceful settlement of Syrian conflict would bring benefits for some external and internal actors, while other players would lose existing assets, thus creating a fear of peace. Therefore, they cannot come to an agreement. Internally, rebels are not unified under one common leadership and the legitimacy of the rebels among the Syrian people and International community remains questionable.

4. Part one: Analyzing the Syrian conflict

4.1 Syria - Country profile

Official name: The Syrian Arab Republic

Geographic location: Syria is located in Southwestern Asia, belonging to the Middle East countries, north of the Arabian Peninsula; at the Eastern end of the Mediterranean Sea, bordered by Turkey on the North, Lebanon and Israel on the West, Iraq on the East, and Jordan on the South.

Photo source of Syrian country Map: Shane 2013

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

Capitol: Damascus

Government of Syria: The last French troops left Syria in April of 1946, and the country gained its independence.

Syrian government is nominally a republic, but ruled under an authoritarian regime headed by President Bashar al-Assad and the Arab Socialist Ba'ath Party, receiving 97.6% votes in the 2007 elections. From 1963 to 2011, Syria was under a State of Emergency that allowed the president extraordinary powers; bans on rallies and organizing campaigns; authorities have the right to cross-examine any person and monitor private communications and review media. State of Emergency has officially been lifted lately but civil liberties remain restricted.( Szczepanski (2013)

Syrian politics were bloody and chaotic throughout the 1950s and early 1960s. Hafez al- Assad, father of present president took over both the party and the regime in a 1970 coup, his son Bashar al-Assad became president following Hafez al-Assad's death in 2000. From July 2000, Bashar al Assad has ruled Syria over twelve years. Bashar speaks English and French and has a British born wife. (Shane 2013)

Languages: The official language of Syria is Arabic. Important minority languages include Kurdish,Armenian,Aramaic, and Circassian. Many Syrians also speak French and English.

Population: 2012 estimate has approximately 22.5 million people of which 90% are Arab, 9% are Kurds, and the remaining 1% includes small numbers of Armenians, Circassians and Turkmens. In addition, about 18,000 Israeli settlers live in the occupied Golan Heights.

Religion: Roughly 74% of Syrians are Sunni Muslims, 12% are Alawis or Alawites; Basar alAssad’s family belongs to this community, 10% are Christians, 3% are Druze.

4.2 How and why the Syrian conflict began

It began in March 15, 2011 in Syria’s southwestern city of Deraa, where some 15 school students scrawled anti-government slogans on the walls. Students were arrested by local police and jailed for a month. (France24 2012) Upon their release, locals discovered that the students were tortured in prison; their fingernails had been ripped off and private parts shocked. Locals took to the streets, shouted “the people want the downfall of [Deraa’s] governor!”(First video 2011); people carefully avoided mention of Assad regime.

The government responded exasperatingly, the army opened fire on protesters, killing four people. The following day, they shot at mourners during the victims' funerals, killing another person; soon the unrest spread to other parts of the country.

Some view the Syrian conflict as a consequence of the Arab Spring and the fall of Tunisian and Egyptian regimes in early 2011,thus encouraging Syrians to take up arms against the Assad regime. (CNN 2013)

A family hegemony of the regime from 1970 in a State of Emergency that prohibits rallies and organizing campaigns; authorities have the right to cross-examine any person and monitor private communications and review media. State of Emergency has officially lifted lately but civil liberties remain restricted. All these set the stage for this uprising.

4.3 Opposition rebel groups

The opposition fighting groups consist of a multitude of local militias, army defectors, volunteers fighting in brigades under the banner of the Free Syrian Army and various armed Islamist coalitions. Some of these groups include foreign fighters and Islamist militia groups. Groups with different priorities and political goals control different areas. Al Qaeda-affiliated Jabhat al Nusra fighters captured the city of Ar Raqqah in March 2013. Kurdish forces took control of their northeastern Syria region. Opposition forces still control significant areas of northwestern, eastern, and southern Syria.

U.S. Congress published a profile of the opposition forces in Syria on May 2013 as follows:

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

Figure source: US Congress Report

National Coalition of Syrian Revolution and Opposition Forces Formed in Qatar, November 2012

Umbrella coalition for opposition groups intended to expand representation and establish legitimate unified voice for engagement with international community.

Syrian National Council (CNC)

Formed in Turkey, October 2011

Consists mainly of exile activists, including Syrian Muslim Brotherhood, secular elites, intellectuals, independents, and ethnic and religious minorities such as Kurds and Christians.

Free Syrian Army (FSA)

Consists of brigades made up of various combinations of armed dissident military personnel and civilian volunteers.

Muslim Brotherhood of Syria

Has opposed the Baathist government for decades through nonviolent opposition and armed violence. Its leaders have remained in exile since the unsuccessful armed uprising of the 1970s and 1980s.

Kurdish National Council(KNC)

Umbrella organization of several smaller Kurdish political parties, brought together by Iraqi Kurdish leader Massoud Barzani.

Local Coordination Committees(LCCs)

LCCs active in many Syrian communities created an informal network to link activists nationally, also organize protests, coordinate relief efforts in conflict-affected areas.

National Coordination Body for Democratic Change(NCB)

A Syria based alliance of leftist groups, Kurdish activists and individuals associated with the 2005 Damascus Declaration on political reform.

Kurdish Democratic Union Party(PYD)/Kurdish Popular Protection Units(YPG)

The group is US designated terrorist organization and it opposes foreign intervention.

Al Nusra Front

Emerged in early 2012 and claimed responsibilities for series of high profile suicide bombing attacks against government security forces and summary executions of captured regime soldiers. Its messaging, tactics, and ideology mirror those of Al Qaeda affiliates in other regional conflict zones.

Ahrar al Sham Battalions

Ahrar al Sham led the creation of the Syrian Islamic Front in December 2012, bringing its forces into closer coordination with other similarly minded militia in northern and eastern Syria.

Saqour al Sham Brigade

Based in northwestern Idlib province-- calls for the establishment of an Islamic state and has made contradictory statements about Syrian religious minorities.

Al Farouq Battalions(FSA/SILF)

A coalition of militias that have fought under the banner of the Free Syrian Army.

Foot note : Source - U.S. Congressional Research Service.2013.

Derived from U.S. government Open Source Center reports, social media and independent analyst reports. The position, size, platforms and membership of the groups are subject to change.

4.4 The Regional Actors and their interests

Syrian conflict has become a chance for regional actors to bring their interests to the table. In this section I will explain a bit about regional actors.


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Syrian Conflict. Dilemmas and Challenges in Peaceful Settlement
Why are International actors taking too much time to intervene in the Syrian conflict and how can a peaceful conflict settlement be found?
MA in Peace and Conflict Studies
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ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Book)
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Syrian War, Syrian Conflict, Peace negotiation, Peaceful settlement
Quote paper
Meah Mostafiz (Author), 2013, Syrian Conflict. Dilemmas and Challenges in Peaceful Settlement, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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