Syria Doesn't Face Genocide, But Rather Civil War

There are many reasons to be worried about the Middle East: soccer riots and renewed protests in Egypt, an unstable Libya, rising tensions over nuclear power in Iran, escalating sectarian violence in Iraq, and peace negotiations that may or may not be doomed to fail between Israel and Palestine. But right now, nothing is more worrisome than the state of affairs in Syria. 

Syria is in the midst of a civil war. Why are we so hesitant to define it as such? Broadly defined, civil war is “a war between political factions or regions within the same country.” For almost a year, the world has watched the repeated brutal crackdown of Bashar Al-Assad on the ordinary citizens of his country. As death tolls continue to rise (possibly over 100 people killed in one day), Homs has been completely sealed off by the military and there is a shortage of medical supplies. Fighting between military and the opposition has spread to the city of Aleppo, with two explosions occurring on 10 February. Violence is also escalating across the country.

On February 6, Russia and China vetoed a United Nations Security Council Resolution to remove Assad's from power and end the violence in Syria. These vetoes have only furthered Assad’s resolve to stay in power. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton noted that without immediate international intervention, “The endgame…is civil war.” I think it is time we realize that Syria is already there, and the people of Syria need a lot more than words of support from the Arab League and Western governments, they need action.

Syria is in dire need of a coordinated foreign intervention that will decisively end -Assad’s rule and bring to an end the severe loss of life that is occurring. And while undoubtedly there will be civilian casualties in any type of military action that occurs, it will be a lot less than if foreign governments just stand by and continue to watch this civil war unfold while Assad continues to crush his people. 

Photo Credit: syriana2011

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Alexandra Zimmerman

Alexandra works as a Program Coordinator on women's business leadership at the Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security. She previously worked at the Wilson Center, a leading non-partisan think tank in Washington, DC and at the Asian University for Women in Chittagong, Bangladesh, where she was taught courses entitled "20th Century Political History of the Middle East" and "Religion and Identity." She received an M.A. in Middle Eastern Studies from the University of Chicago and a B.A. in Religion concentrating in Islamic studies from the George Washington University. She loves to cook and travel and is a huge fan of the NY Giants and NY Mets.

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