Thursday, March 21, 2013

Ethnicity in Iran

Natalie Cassedy
March 21, 2013

            An article from Time Magazine published in 2009 accurately describes the ethnic makeup in Iran, and the conflicts that occurred during the last election year. In late 2009, only a few months after the presidential elections, there was a suicide bomber who killed 42 people in the Southern province of Sistan-Baluchistan. The Iranian government attempted to blame outside forces, such as the U.S. or Pakistan, but an ethnic group called the Baluch took responsibility for the attack. The goal of the attack was to kill officers of the Revolutionary Guard Corps. The attack was successful in killing five members, and there were also thirty-seven civilian casualties.
            Iran is a country that has a majority Persian population. Fifty-one percent of its population is Persian therefore; they are able to hold the majority of political seats. However, there are many ethnic groups that represent a significant portion of Iran’s population, and the Baluch are one such group. They represent nine percent of the population. These ethnic groups at times have felt oppressed by the government. They feel as if they are not properly represented in the government, and this is where the conflict arose.
            It is important to look at these types of ethnic conflicts in Iran, because at times ethnic conflicts can lead to political violence. Erik Cederman argues that ethnicity can be a cause of civil war. When groups feel under represented they will either fight for better representation in their states government, or if they have enough resources they will fight to be separate from the state altogether. However, if there are many ethnic groups fighting then many civil wars could potentially break out, which would increase instability in the region.
            It is important for the Iranian government to remember this conflict, especially since they have elections this upcoming summer. If the various ethnic groups within the state feel as though the results of the elections do not portray their interests, more conflicts such as the suicide bombing are likely to occur. The international community should keep informed on the state of Iran because they are looking to become a nuclear power. If there is internal instability in the region then security on the nuclear materials could be lacking and there is a higher probability of them being stolen. It is dangerous for a any nuclear state to have political unrest.

Source: Robert Baer. Time Magazine. October 21,2009,8599,1931402,00.html

Lack of Jobs and Corruption Lead to Algerian Protests

On March 14 nearly ten thousand protestors gathered in the southern town of Ouargla which is located near Algeria’s largest producing oil field.  They gathered in a nonviolent protest to demand jobs and an end to the rampant corruption taking place in the government.

Algeria is a country that is rich with oil and has a prosperous oil industry, but the majority of the population do not benefit from this wealth. The country is facing unemployment rates as high as 21.5 percent for citizens under the age of 35 and a nationwide unemployment rate of 10 percent (African Review, 2013).This is not sitting well with Algerian citizens and on Thursday they made it known as they shouted, “the people want the downfall of corruption” and anti-government slogans (Aljazeera, 2013). 

Although the demonstrators said their demands for jobs and the development of the central and southern regions were strictly social and not aimed at bringing down the government, this could very well be the start of something bigger and more violent. To make matters worse, fifteen unemployed men who attended the protest and had held a previous protest in Ouargla will go on trial on March 26 for being part of an “unarmed gathering.” In a separate case four men were arrested and jailed on March 12 for “illegal gathering” after staging a protest outside the national employment agency.  

At Thursday’s protest former Islamic Salvation Front (FIS) activist and Islamist leader Ali Belhadj tried to join the protest but was stopped by security and was not allowed to enter the city.  As tensions continue to grow and as the people become more fed up with the government, we could very well see the return of the FIS party along with its supporters.  However, it seems that the government has recognized that they need to address these growing concerns and has promised to address youth unemployment in the south, and Prime Minister Abdelmalek Sellal is urging companies in the south to make sure that local job seekers be the priority recipients for jobs in the region.  I believe that this is a step in the right direction for the Algerian government, but they still have a long way to go before the Algerian citizens will be satisfied.
Works Cited
"Thousands of Algeria Jobless Protest in Desert Town." African Review. Nation Media Group, 15 Mar. 2013. Web. 18 Mar. 2013. <>.
"Thousands Protest Unemployment in Algeria." Al Jazeera, 14 Mar. 2013. Web. 18 Mar. 2013. <>.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Syria's Civil War Causes Tension in Next Door Lebanon

As the civil war drags on in Syria, Lebanon is increasingly feeling the pressure of the Sunni-Shi’ite divide in Syria in its own divided country.  This week in Lebanon saw a Syrian air strike on the Lebanese border town Arsal, where an estimated 15,000 Syrian refugees have fled.  Although reports say that no one was injured, the air strike still represents a disregard of Lebanese sovereignty and emphasizes the closeness of the Syrian conflict to Lebanon’s borders. 

According to the New York Times article “Lebanon’s Sunnis Gird for a Fight” (Wood 2013), such cross border attacks by the Lebanese and the Syrians could result in Lebanese Sunnis joining with the Free Syrian Army and fighting against the Lebanese government, a regime dominated by the Shi’ite Hezbollah.  Such a move could reawaken Lebanon’s own civil war that was fought between the Sunnis and Shi’ites from 1975-1990, and it wouldn’t be farfetched considering that a number of Lebanon’s Sunnis outwardly support the Syrian rebels and increasingly view Hezbollah as an illegitimate Iranian puppet, as well as the fact that guns and ammunition for sale are common sights on the streets as the Sunnis organize for any future fight against the government.

All of this points to an increasingly tense and divided Lebanon poised to engage in violent conflict within its borders and in Syria.  Although Hezbollah has so far been avoiding interfering in the Syrian civil war, it may soon have its own conflict to fight as civilians frustrated with what they perceive to be a puppet regime take up arms.

Lebanon’s focus in the past has been to quell any potential conflicts arising among the country’s ethnic and religious groups, even instituting a sectarian democracy in which all groups ideally have equal representation; however, the tension created by the civil war in Syria is likely to only inflame the differences felt among these various groups, and choosing to intervene in the civil war in order to hopefully put an end to the conflict sooner will not ease Lebanon’s own divide, especially as Hezbollah choosing to support either the Syrian rebels or Assad’s Alawite regime (the latter of which Lebanon’s government already supports) will only distance those members of Lebanese society who support the other side.  The country may want to focus more on disseminating tensions among the groups by creating a greater sense of equality, perhaps by holding parliamentary elections or engaging in infrastructure projects in its voluntarily segregated neighborhoods, in order to maintain the status quo, rather than becoming embroiled in the conflict next door.

Works Cited

"Lebanon Condemns Syria Strike on Border Town." Al Jazeera. Al Jazeera, 19 Mar. 2013. Web. 20 Mar. 2013. <>.
Wood, Josh. "Lebanon's Sunnis Gird for a Fight." New York Times. New York Times Company, 14 Mar. 2013. Web. 20 Mar. 2013. <>.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Iranian Economic Woes Continue

With the upcoming elections in June, many Iranians are hoping that the next president will do more to fix the economic situation that is hurting the vast majority of Iranians.  Because of the international sanctions on Iran as a result of their nuclear weapons and corruption and mismanagement of Iran's oil wealth, the economic situation in Iran continues to deteriorate.  The Ayatollah Khamenei is hoping to avoid a repeat of the 2009 election protest by making sure that loyalists to him are the leading candidates.  If the Iranian people feel that the election has been rigged again and that their economic situation has not improved, they may decide that they should organize a protest to demand change.

We should care about the state of the Iranian economy because if the Iranian people feel that their economic situation is not getting better, they may decide to follow the lead of other countries in the Middle East and start protesting for change.  If the new president promises to fix the economy but does not meet the expectations of the people, we could see the beginning of political violence in Iran.  Many people are upset with the fact that many of the promises made during the 1979 revolution of wealth distribution has not been met.  But because some of the economic woes that Iran is experiencing is a result of sanctions imposed on it by the U.S., the Iranian leadership may just lay all of the blame on the U.S., which may strengthen their power because the people will direct all of their anger and frustration towards the U.S.

Because there is a growing visible wealth disparity between the political elites and the average citizen in Iran, there may be a possibility of political violence.  Much of the economy of Iran is based on the oil and gas industry and is the source of the majority of wealth in Iran.  During the 1979 revolution, promises were made that oil wealth would be more evenly distributed throughout society, but currently the vast majority of oil wealth is concentrated among political elites, who enjoy such luxuries as ice cream with flecked gold ( Erdbrink, 2011) , while the average Iranian is struggling to get by.  Because the elites cannot easily transport all of the oil wealth out of the country, this increases the chances of revolution because the average Iranian knows that the elites cannot just simply remove the wealth out of the country. 

Policy makers should watch what happens during and after the next Iranian elections in June because the possibility of a revolution is high.  Policy makers should try to convince the Iranian people that it is not the West that is the main cause of their economic misery but their own government because it will be easy for the Iranian government to blame their economic condition on the West.  The Iranian people need to be reminded that the current regime has failed to deliver on their promises of a more just society and that they have the ability to fix their own country. 

Here is a video that explains the economic situation in Iran:


 Erdbrink, Thomas. "Iran’s Rich Eat Ice Cream Flecked with Gold as Poor Struggle to Survive." Washington Post. The Washington Post, 07 Aug. 2011. Web. 19 Mar. 2013.

Lennie, Soraya. "Iran Economy Key Election Issue." Aljazeera- Middle East. Aljazeera, n.d. Web. 19 Mar. 2013.

Iranian Economics: Sanctions and Sports Cars

Increasing economic sanctions, and Iran’s strict refusal to abandon nuclear development programs have lead to a sharp destruction of the Iranian economy. As BBC reported in January, “Gholam Reza Kateb, an MP on the national planning and budget committee, said the country's economy as a whole was in trouble” (BBC 2013). In fact, Iran’s economy is in such a state of trouble it has been estimated that their revenue from oil has dropped nearly 45%. Further, the rial (Iran’s currency) has “lost more than 80% of its value since 2011” (ibid. 2013). Yet in the face of these economic disasters the Iranian government refuses to make concessions, and has claimed that they are able to bypass U.S. sanctions. As Albawaba Business reported yesterday, “On Thursday, a powerful cleric taunted the U.S. administration, vowing that economic pressure could never force Iran to abandon its nuclear programme” (Albawaba Business 2013). While the government stands their ground, the Iranian middle class has attempted to find ways to insure their economic security.

Oddly enough, one way that Iranians have found economic safety has been through investments in luxury vehicles. As rials decrease in value it becomes increasingly more dangerous for Iranians to hold onto their money, causing them to invest in vehicles made with foreign parts that increase in value. The Economist states, “They have become even less affordable for the poor. But middle-class Iranians buy them as investments as cash savings lose value because of inflation and the currency collapse. Iranians with government links are making a mint” (The Economist 2013). These individuals with government ties have capitalized on investments by buying cars at a lower exchange rate than the unofficial rate, and turning around to charge propped up prices within Iran. As one Iranian luxury car dealer relays in The Economist, ““With this economy, it’s not the time for real business,” he says, passing a holdall of cash to an assistant. “They just want quick deals”” (ibid. 2013).

If this trend continues, Iranians face two primary issues in the near future. First, the disparity between the Iranian upper class and the lower class will increase dramatically. As lower class individuals have no ability to place their money in any form of investments, the little money they do hold will continue to be worth less and less. This chain reaction will greatly increase the level of poverty. Secondly, the Iranian government and those that are tied to the government gain an increasing feeling of security, even though this solution merely temporarily ameliorates the problem. Oil exports had previously helped the theocratic government stay in power, meaning their economic shelter is slowly collapsing. While the government can use the money from these imports to pay for certain things, as economic hardship among the majority of the population increases so to will protests and calls for change. In light of the upcoming elections and the highlighted economic plight, political instability may be looming in Iran.

"Economic sanctions not forcing Iran to change."Albawaba Business. 18 Mar 2013: n. page. Web. 18 Mar. 2013. <>.

"Iranian oil revenues 'drop 45%' because of sanctions."BBC News. 7 Jan 2013: n. page. Web. 18 Mar. 2013. <>.

"Iran’s economy: Islamist Maseratis." Economist. 16 Mar 2013: n. page. Web. 18 Mar. 2013. <>.

Monday, March 18, 2013

How Far They Haven't Come: 
Bahrani Protests Increase as Two-Year
 Anniversary of Pearl Revolt Passes

A Bahraini anti-government protester walks through tear gas

            Where the spring of 2011 brought a tide of upheaval, change, chaos, and uncertain but hopeful futures in countries like Egypt, Libya, and Tunisia, a handful of countries whose populaces also took to the streets seeking government reform and freedom have not fared as well—namely Bahrain and Syria. While Syria continues to be in the global spotlight with its two year civil war and controversial nature of implications of outside intervention, Bahrain’s plight has been lost to the global perspective.
This past Thursday, March 14th, marked the two-year anniversary of Saudi Arabia’s intervention into Bahrain’s protests during the rise of the Arab Spring. Protesters have taken back to the streets in memory of the anniversary of the start of their protests and the memory of Saudi Arabia’s military intervention but also in protest the relative inaction of the residing government. During the start of the protests two years ago the Bahraini monarchy tried to quell protesters with minor appeasements such as freeing a couple hundred anti-government prisoners and making minor political reform. But over the last two years since the small 1.2 million person country entered an increasingly violent round of protests, very little has changed. What is most discouraging to me, is how little has changed for Bahrain in terms of the global conversation being had about their own political and social futures. During the first rounds of protests in Bahrain the global community fixated on sectarian divides in the country instead of the actual message of the protesting base of both Sunnis and Shias. In Madeleine Bunting’s article in The Guardian dated March 20, 2011, a mere month into the protests in Bahrain, her entire focus is on sectarianism of a movement that had self-declared no sectarian focuses or ties. While her concerns were rightly based in Saudi Arabia’s intervention against the sectarian issues they claimed to be dispelling, but were rather fueling, the past two years has shown that the sectarian issues are only issues for the Bahraini government, and that protesters themselves are more concerned with their shared humanity and nationality than their religious and ethnic divisions.
Instead, the real ethnic issue in Bahrain is the global anti-Iranian sentiment. No matter how earnestly the protesters on the Bahraini streets declare it, the overall global sentiment refuses to see their cause as anything other than Iranian influenced terrorism at work. What I see is the inability of the West to see this as a legitimate protest and not as ethnic conflict. The West is too concerned about Iran’s status as the only Shia state in the Middle East combined with the leading Iranian officials’ anti-Semitic policies and attitudes to hear that any movement involving Shia/Sunni divides may not spur sectarian violence within the country, or cause increased tensions and possibly war with Israel in the long run. While I understand the fear the West has for these kinds of cultural strains in a region that has had the most tumultuous last 100 years, I do not understand how that justifies leaving any person in that kind of existing sectarian discrimination.
While yes, the majority of citizens do belong to one ethnic group, and yes that ethnic group has suffered the brunt of ethnically charged discrimination, it does not mean that these protesters are seeking to inflict similar injustice against the ruling party that has discriminated against them. These, for the most part, are everyday citizens who want to see everyday type changes to their lives and the treatment as humans. All I see is a civil rights movement akin to the one that swept the US in the 1960s. To me, these sectarian factors of the movement in Bahrain, and in the movements elsewhere in the region, are not to be feared. That is as illogical now as it was for Americans in the 1960s to believe that those ethnic members of protest movements want to inflict the same kind of ethnically charged harm against those that had been oppressing them. Not only is this fear illogical, but it bespeaks an acknowledgment of the oppressing party of their wrongdoings. Why else would they fear retribution? Why else would they be afraid of allowing true equality if they weren't fearful of how it would “lower” their own status?
Despite what I think is a logical correlation between historical ethnically influenced peaceful protests and the protests continuing in Bahrain, and despite the lack of evidence to prove that ethnicity is a driving factor in Bahrain, the global community is enthralled, fixated, and obsessed with how the Shia majority’s relationship with the protesters could pan out in a reality that doesn't exist. And to the Bahraini citizens’ detriment, it doesn't look like the West is going to allow the focus to shift to the human rights abuses, ethnic discrimination, or the sheer fact of the hypocrisy of being democratic nations actively working to quash pushes for democracy and freedom that are happening in Bahrain now. The best from-the-source take on this ethnic divide that I was able to find was a quote from Maryam al-Khawaja, acting president of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, in The Daily Beast article published March 17th, 2013 and is as follows: 
“When you say it’s a Shia uprising, it is easier to blame Iran than if you
say it’s a Bahraini uprising. People didn't come out because they are Shia.
They came out because they are human beings. They are demanding a
constitution for everyone; they are demanding homes for everyone,
jobs for everyone.” 
As a politically active American youth, it is weird to agree with any idea put forth by Iranian national officials. But in this case, I know the official Iranian position is correct. Last week, while addressing claims of Iranian and Shia involvement in Bahrain, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast explained that the focus on sectarian issues in Bahrain by the monarchy has been the official position “in order to escape from the real problems” of the Bahraini government and the issues of its citizens and continued focus on these nonexistent issues will “bear no results” in improving the country’s current state of affairs or in healing wounds that have torn Bahrain apart, especially over the last two years.

Oman and the Arab Spring

Oman, like many other countries in the Middle East, saw demonstrations during the Arab Spring. Even though the protests were not as big as the ones in Egypt or as violent as the protests in Syria, Oman still saw large protests and incurred several deaths.

According to an article by Al-Jazeera, during the Oman protests in 2011 two people died after police fired rubber-coated bullets at the anti-government protesters in Sohar. About 2,000 people demonstrated in Sohar demanding political reforms.

Angry protesters in Sohar set a government building on fire and looted a supermarket. Sohar was not the only city to experience protests. The capital city Muscat and the resort town of Salalah in the south also saw protests.

The protests in Sohar prompted Oman's Leader, Sultan Qaboos bin Said, to introduce mild political reforms. He gave orders for the provision of 50,000 jobs and unemployment benefits worth $400 a month, according to Al-Jazeera. The leader also created a committee to examine whether or not the Shura council should receive some legislative powers instead of being purely advisory. On top of that, Sultan Qaboos reshuffled his cabinet.

Sultan Qaboos has been in power for 40 years.
However, some protesters, according to the article, were not satisfied by the concessions.

Most protesters never called for the removal of Sultan Qaboos. Instead they called for the government to combat corruption, curb the rising cost of living, raise salaries and provide greater media freedoms. Overall, the article makes it appear that many of the demonstrators emphasized their loyalty to their ruler while protesting for government reform.

This sets Oman apart from other countries that experienced the Arab Spring because Oman's conflict did not escalate to the call for the removal of Sultan Qaboos.

The case of Oman is a good example of indirect diffusion. Sultan Qaboos, instead of enacting violence against the vast majority of his citizens, like Assad in Syria, chose to give into some of the demands of the protesters. This made many protesters feel satisfied and satisfied people are unlikely to protest.

The idea of diffusion comes from Stephen Saideman in his article "When Conflict Spreads: Arab Spring and the Limits of Diffusion." Even though Saideman does not discuss indirect diffusion in Oman, he would probably agree that indirect diffusion occurred in Oman on the side of the state.

Oman is a monarchy and does not have to explain its legitimacy but this does not mean that the state cannot learn from the mistakes of Mubarak and bin Ali. Sultan Qaboos, unlike the former leaders in Tunisia and Egypt did not make the mistake of offering concessions too late. When he saw the protests in Sohar escalate he quickly made concessions and the protest movement lost many supporters. Had he not been able to learn from other Arab Spring countries he might not be in power today.   

When Oman is thought of, it is often viewed as a tranquil, sedate country. The protests demonstrate that perhaps Oman is not as peaceful as it appears. Whether or not the government concessions will continue to pacify the population is uncertain. Omani citizens who oppose the government have seen how effective protests can be in other countries because of indirect diffusion this could potentially ignite future protests.

There is Hope for Sudan

There is Hope for Sudan

There has been a lot of progress in the last two weeks concerning North and South Sudan. The buffer zone between the two countries has been a heavily militarized zone. Both countries agreed to remove their troops immediately and without conditions. Hopefully tensions will calm down, as armed resistance across borders will begin to disintegrate. To ensure both sides comply Ethiopian troops have been sent to monitor the border. With the United Nations acting as a watchdog hopefully these two countries can focus their resources on their people, reconciliation and the future.

Another leap for Sudan this week involved both sides of Sudan signing an oil agreement, which will begin oil production for the two countries after being shut down since 2011. The country has seen a 46% increase in inflation as well as increased financial struggles as 50% of revenue from oil supports the countries.  The two countries depend heavily on each other as one of them holds the oil reserves and the other holds the infrastructure to export the good. The two primary places that the expected 1.7 billion dollars will benefit are wage increases and deficit payments.

This agreement not only represents more hope for financial stability but also political. Although this may seem like a light at the end of the tunnel for this oil production feud. We need to wait and see this treaty in action. As the Northern rebels are still occupying the South’s territories. It seems unlikely that the South will risk giving up their oil to the North as the oil’s path runs through many unfriendly territories. Many rebel groups may find means of off routing the oil to the North to prevent profit and reconciliation.

I don’t have much hope for Sudan even though these steps seem to be a move forward. There are so many more actors that go beyond each government’s control. Like so many countries in this region there is no easy solution to disputes in ownership of rich resources. The best way to handle this situation is to divvy up the profits of the oil 50/50 as both sides rely on the other to make a profit. It is unfortunate that a simple signing or discussion of an issue cannot be the end of violence and distrust. Sudan faces a problem that I don’t believe can be solved with out time, patience, citizen involvement, countless interventions from outside peacemakers and hope. When generation after generation are taught to hate and distrust the other it is nearly impossible to have this frame of mind die out any other way then with a slow disintegration of stereotypes and hate through upcoming generations.

Check out this video for more background information on oil in Sudan.


Moshe Yaalon Named as Israel Defense Minister

In an area of the world where violence is prevalent, every government decision regarding defense is put under a microscope.  Prime Minister of Israel, Binyamin Netanyahu, has named Moshe Yaalon as Israel's new Defense Minister.  Yaalon is 62 years old and is part of the same political party as Binyamin - the Likud Party.  He is a formal general and has publicly voiced his opinion that he is reluctant to give up the Palestinian occupied West Bank to make way for a Palestinian state. Netanyahu claims that Yaalon has much experience and that experience is needed at a time when the Middle East is "rocky."

My question is will the appointment of Yaalon as the new Defense Minister of Israel change the relationship between Israel and the Middle East, or Israel and the west (America)?  Yaalon seems to be "right-wing" and very against a Palestinian state.  Will his appointment make Israel safer or just cause more violence between Israel and Palestine? The violence between these two nations is both ethnically and religiously based, two topics we have discussed in class.  Will this violence stay the same, increase, or decrease now that Yaalon has been appointed?

In the article, Danny Danon, an Israeli Likud party member and lawmaker, has said he will "preserve the values of the nationalist camp," referring to the illegal Israeli camps set up in the Gaza Strip.  What is interesting about this statement is it was done through Facebook.  It seems to me that policy makers and government leaders in Israel and Palestine use social media as a tool to announce political statements (I am judging this by the recent bombings between Israel and Palestine, and the Twitter battle between the two side). Do you think the use of social media is a good thing or bad thing, and in an effort to minimize violence and death, is is the right move? Personally, I see no problem with it, but I believe it is worth discussing.

Original Article:

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Syria: International Game

A recent article from The Atlantic describes the current state of international intervention in Syria, in which Russia and Iran are propping up the Assad regime while the U.S. and Britain contemplate providing support for Syria’s rebel army.  Iran has been funneling money and weapons to Assad and has increasingly become the Syrian government’s “lifeline” in its ongoing civil war—something Russia seems to have no problem with.  According to a Reuters report, Iran has been using civilian aircraft to fly personnel and weapons into Syria, while also funneling arms through Shi'ite proxy groups in Lebanon and Turkey, like Hezbollah.  This weapons trade is in clear violation of international law due to the U.N. sanctions that were put in place to prevent such trade. 

Interestingly, Russia is not concerned about Iran’s or Assad’s violations of international law, but is quite concerned about the possibility of the West supporting rebel forces.  In fact, this past Wednesday, Russia’s foreign minister, Sergei Larov, warned the UK that any attempt to send weapons to “non-governmental actors” would be considered a violation of international law.  However, at this moment in the conflict the West has not shown many credible signs that it is willing to provide anything but vocal support for the rebels.  Without lethal aid from international actors, the rebels are left to buy arms on the black market, steal them from the Army, and craft their own makeshift weapons. 

SGC (2011) “Explaining External Support for Insurgent Groups” says that rebels are more likely to gain external support if the government receives external support.  Based on this theory, in Syria we should be seeing the West providing material support for the rebel forces, because the Assad regime is receiving weapons and money from Iran and Russia.   However we have yet to see such an intervention on the part of the West, possibly because the rebel forces are still very much factionalized.  Also if the West does intervene, like it did in Libya, it runs the risk of encouraging future rebel movements in other countries by creating an expectation of intervention—possibly resulting in more mass killings and more conflict. 

The West is in a difficult position.  If it intervenes, a victory for the rebel forces might yield short-term benefits (i.e. Democracy, ending mass killings) but the long-term consequences (raised expectations of intervention) could outweigh these benefits.  If it does not intervene, we could see the perpetuation of the Assad regime, mass killings, repression, and refugees.  Timing is key element in intervention, and it seems as if the West might have waited too long.  At this point, I believe the West should continue providing non-lethal aid to help those injured or in need, but should not intervene militarily or even provide lethal aid to the rebels.