Monday, April 8, 2013

Assad’s Fall: What happens next?

In recent weeks, international powers have been preparing for the event in which Syria’s government collapses.  The United Nations in particular have laid out various plans that are to stabilize the nation when Bashar al-Assad’s falls.  Aside from humanitarian efforts, the UN plans to incorporate peacekeeping methods.

However, how effective will these proposed peacekeeping plans be?  Considering the political stability of Syria has the ability to change at any moment, the United Nations cannot react with such quickness due to their actions being operated through the UN Security Council.  Also, Western forces are reluctant to place military forces in the region to keep the status quo.  

International actors must make a decision sooner rather than later.  On Monday, Ban Ki Moon, the UN Secretary General reported that a UN inspection team was deployed to Cyprus in order to inspect Syria on suspicion chemical weapons are being used.  Currently, Syria’s government has rejected the request of the United Nations to step in.  This could possibly be due to Syria’s impression of UN intervention in Iraq which fostered the eventual American invasion.  

Personally, I believe that the conflict in Syria is still on going.  If any intervention is to be made, it must must be done with correct timing;  after the conflict has passed.  If international powers enter when the conflict is still ongoing, there is a possibility that Syria’s conditions may worsen.  Earlier in the course, we had discussed types of intervention.  As of right now, the UN has positioned its plans towards diplomatic intervention, relying on representatives and ambassadors from various countries.  There is a possibility that military intervention will occur if Assad’s regime falls.   However, there is a moral hazard that the UN and other Western powers may face if Syria does call for intervention and that is encouraging false hope for other countries.  Stabilizing the Assad collapse would encourage other Middle Eastern countries to call for aid in hopes that they too might be given aid.  As of right now, I see no end or solution for the Syrian conflict.

“Deadly Car Bomb Rocks Central Damascus.” Al Jazeera 8 April 2013. 8 April 2013

“Preparing for the Day After Assad’s Fall.” Al Jazeera 7 April 2013. 8 April 2013.


  1. I don't think that the time for aid is after the conflict ends. As the conflict heats up, and with the coming investigation into the possibility that chemical weapons are being used, the time to intervene is now.

    Though expensive, the U.S. will need to step up to the plate and militarily impose sanctions on the Assad regime. This is the only way that any sort of physical intervention will not make things worse. Supplying the rebels with weapons only runs the risk of exacerbating the conflict because the Syrian border is WIDE open for weapon and cash flow from Iran and Russia primarily.

    Unless the U.S. can credibly sever this vein of military and monetary support, the Syrian rebels will continue to flounder in disarray. Militarily imposed sanctions will not miraculously cause the Syrian opposition to coalesce, but doing so would give them a fighting chance at overthrowing Assad without years more of bloodshed. It would meaningfully number the days of Bashar al-Assad and force Iran to find other--and hopefully more expensive--methods for supporting their Syrian allies.

    I am unconvinced by your moral hazard argument. I think that most other Arab countries that are experiencing unrest right now do not have the capacity nor the desire to fall into the same state of civil war that Libya and Syria did. Libya was a success story, but with the civil war in Syria and the thousands dying every month, there is little incentive to want to even risk falling down the same path.

    While the "moral hazard" argument certainly applied to Syria when looking back at Libya, it does not for any of the other Arab countries.

  2. I agree with this post that there seems to be no end in sight in the Syrian conflict. Violence continues week after week, but it doesn't appear that either side is gaining significant ground. While waiting to intervene until the conflict is over will cause even larger scale destruction and death, I don't believe that this warrants a military intervention at this point in the game either. There is the possibility that chemical weapons have now been introduced to the conflict. It is also true that without support, the rebels will continue to face challenges. However, the rebels have still failed to articulate one common voice around one common group or movement. Intervention, whether in the form of economic sanctions or military involvement, will not be successful in the long run if there is wide disagreement amongst the rebel groups. Further, I do not believe that this is the time for the U.S. to step up to the plate. The United States has provided economic aid, and while this has not been a great success, that does not mean it is our turn to intervene militarily. The U.S. is still in the process of withdrawing troops from Afghanistan, and after finally withdrawing all of its troops from Iraq in 2011, anti-American sentiment still remains high in the region. It seems that the U.S. has come to play a "big-brother" role. Nations may want our help, and when we intervene we are criticized for doing so. Further, I agree with previous comments that this will create a moral hazard. Other countries may come to expect intervention on behalf of the U.S. if they see this response to the Syrian conflict. While something must be done, it must be a joint effort among the international community, and the U.S. cannot be expected to be the only one to commit resources. The UN is certainly trying to create a joint plan of action in response to the conflict, but until the rebels can articulate one common voice, I do not see the conflict ending anytime soon. This is also crucial for long term success. When Assad's regime does in fact come to an end, fighting will only continue if disagreement still exists among the rebel groups. This is also incredibly important as the conflict threatens to spill into other countries, such as Israel.

  3. I am confused by your claim that "international actors must make a decision sooner rather than later" because your following prescribed action is for international actors to do nothing, which means and waiting around for one side to kill off the other. Intervening after the conflict is "over" isn't strategic; the damage - diplomatic and humanitarian - will already be done.

  4. I believe a lot of the issue with the case of Syria stem from the use of violence. Both the regime and the rebels are documented as using violent means to fight each other and these actions are not only affecting the internal population but also the populations of nations surrounding Syria. If the Syrian uprising continues the infrastructure will fall into even further ruin in the outlying towns as well as push more and more refugees across international borders. The flow of refugees already occurring is increasing the chances that international actors will have to do something at some point. Humanitarian aid can only go so far when the country's government is not caring for its people but instead attacking them. Also, I'm a little critical on UN Peascekeeping forces as these troops have been shown to not be all that effective in the world.