Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Rebel Terrorists in Syria: As the Conflict in Syria continues to intensify the international community is in a bind with the ruthless dictator Bashir al-Assad and justifiable distrust for Syrian rebels.

Today marks day 757 for the Syria conflict and the civil war wages on. Theories of political science tell us that the international community is justified and should intervene in civil wars when there is spill-over into other countries and/or gross humanitarian violations in a country[1]. This would make Syria and ideal candidate for international intervention with nearly 100,000 dead and millions displaced.

According to an article in Aljazeera earlier today “Syria refugees struggle outside Jordan camps,” of the nearly half a million Syrian refugees currently in Jordan, two-thirds live outside of refugee camps. The implications for this type of spillover into Jordan are staggering. For example, food and rent prices are skyrocketing in areas with refugees are present and many refugees are resorting to squatting in abandoned buildings in large groups or being homeless in the streets as most humanitarian aid is limited to the overcrowded refugee camps. These refugees have been forced out of Syria due to the gross humanitarian violations by the Syrian government that paved the roads out of Syria with blood. What is the International community waiting for?

Clearly there are justifications for intervention in Syria, but what should these interventions look like?

 Just hours ago news broke out across the world that Al-Nusra—a rebel group in Syria that may or may not be directly involved in the Free Syrian army—has pledged its allegiance with al-Qaeda. According to the BBC Al-Nusra has claimed responsibility for many suicide bombings and guerrilla warfare strategies. Today marks a mega-merger between Al-Nusra and al-Qaeda forming one of the largest multi-national terrorist organizations on earth.

Since this mega-merger between terrorist organizations, the Free Syrian Army (FSA) has been quick to distance themselves from Al-Nusra. However, the reality on the ground is that everyone is fighting to oust Bashir. As this is all rebel’s primary concern; the politics of who will control Syria after the inevitable regime collapse can be sorted out later. Now the question remains, as rebels groups are still greatly out manpowered individually by the regime, can the West really be sure the FSA is trustworthy and not partnering up with terrorists?

 The US, the G8, and Syrian rebels are set to meet in London in less than two weeks on April 20th (An American Holiday), to discuss further support and the inevitable rebel plea for military aid. Our new Secretary of State John Kerry seems determined to make this a reality, but is this a good idea?

It is interesting to consider oil from this week’s reading. Whereas Saudi Arabia was able to suppress its populous during the Arab spring as author Madawi Al-Rasheed explains in our article for Friday, the fact that Syria is not a major oil exporter is important. According to Micheal Ross from Monday’s reading less oil equals more freedom so the face that the Syrian state does receive some oil revenues puts it in a political science gray area but it is definitely not effected by the ‘oil curse.’

Tomorrow there is a panel on Syria at 2 PM in UMC Center Ballroom, the topic is that a military intervention “Is a Very, Very Bad Idea.” This should be a very great conference hope to see you there!


Additional sources:





[1] See Hippel, Foreign Relations 1989 Intervention (international law) or Ihsan, Insight Turkey, Vol. 14, No. 2, Spring 2012


  1. While I think that the vast number of refugees is an international tragedy, I am not sure that international intervention based on humanitarian needs is cause enough to disrupt an ongoing civil war. Timing is everything in intervention and I believe that the US and the international community have waited too long to intervene. International intervention in Libya was quick and decisive, but now that Syria has been launched into a civil war, the Rebel groups and Bashir's supporters are too entrenched in the conflict and have too much at stake. International intervention would breed resentment from the losing party. If the rebels are the losing party, it could breed terrorism against the newly established state (now that Al-Nusra is associating itself with Al-Qaeda) and if Bashir's side loses, there could be coups to try to regain power from the resulting state, or because there was no decisive victory among rebel groups, Syria could be launched into another civil war. Unless the spillover from the Syrian Civil War proves to be an immediate threat to national security, or a terrorist group gains power, I think that the US and International community should stay out of the civil war.

  2. I agree with Tori's post in that the time for intervention with Syria has likely passed. The April 20th meeting that is supposed to include some Syrian rebel groups will likely further affirm what we already know about the opposition in Syria: it is highly fractionalized, and different groups have competing interests. So even though some might be unified against Bashir, an intervention that removes him and his apparatus would barely do anything to resolve the overall situation. It's probably best to allow it to play out for a while until there are fewer and more united groups involved. And I'd worry about Saudi Arabia's reaction towards any international intervention that occurs in the Middle East region; we are heavily economically dependent on them because of their oil, and their reaction to events in Bahrain makes it very clear that they aren't looking for international actors to encourage democratic influences in the region.

  3. I defiantly agree that intervention with Syria is to late. Right now the best thing to do is make sure there isn't a spill over effect in Jordan. Right Now thousands of refugees from Syria are coming over the border into Jordan. By supplying the Syrian refugees with things such as water, sanitation, and proper vaccinations it is causing an economic drain on Jordan. I believe if they increase the military on the border, there will be more fights and the Syrian rebels will increase in violence if they see a military presence.

  4. Alex, I think your point about Saudi Arabia is an interesting one. It is important to remember though, this country does not support Bashir al-Assad and they have actually given allowed rebels to have a seat in the Arab League.

    Both Saudi Arabia and Qatar would love to see the rebels take control so I think they would actually support our intervention. In Syria the Sunni majority are being repressed and they are fighting, whereas in Saudi Arabia and Qatar a Sunni minority represses the Shi'ite majority.

    It seems the class thinks intervention is a bad idea and is too late. It may be time to mail your congressmen; Kerry is clearly in favor of an intervention as soon as possible.