The Misfortunes of Syrian Civil War
This paper highlights the misfortunes of Syrian Civil War. The mishaps of Syrian crisis led by Bashar Al Assad and the misleading’s of USA in Syrian crisis can be best explained by looking through the lens of realism and constructivism theories. To my best knowledge, Constructivism explains the catastrophe that we call the Syrian crisis and USA’s falter at intervening it.
When we talk about realism, we talk about a state whose primary motto is to secure his own territory without jeopardizing his standing amongst other nations.
Realism stands for states who put security as a reason to war. For states acting as realists their main idea is to gain relative gains over other states. According to Mingst, states who act on mutual beneficial alliances and self-help often view crisis through realistic approach. Power is the key actor and instigator for such states. According to realism states manage power through internal or external balance, i.e. internal balancing means to build one’s own military resources and external balances would be to form alliances with neighboring nations.
(Mingst chapter 3)
Throughout the crisis we saw USA taking a backseat when it came to be intervening. USA chose to intervene not to calm the crisis and help the civilians but to demonstrate its power. USA was insecure of its international standing in the middle east with Russia backing Bashar Al Assad and gradually Assad gaining support from the Shia Iran, Iraq and Lebanon based Hezbollah. USA formed anti Assad coalition and formed an alliance with France, UK.
USA opted for military option by bombing the ISIL group and with the above formed alliance USA attacked chemical bombing sites. The Obama administration came up with “red line” which prohibited usage of chemical bombings. Over the period of time USA along with France and UK indulged in bomb strikes on Homs. With the increase in refugees moving from Syria to either Lebanon or turkey or Jordan USA still did not actively involve itself in the crisis and so far, acted in self-interest keeping intact its own regional allies. (AL JAZEERA NEWS)
Constructivism looks beyond power and security. To think like a constructivist, one must learn to look beyond the fact that states ally or go to war based on security dilemma. One must cultivate deep intersubjective understanding. Constructivism emphasizes on the role of norms and values in a society. Constructivism focuses on the behavioral aspect as well. How states behave and how states develop a perception of other states play an important role in determining the cause or reason for crisis or war or revolution. Constructivism leads us to believe that state interest does not just solemnly stem from material interests but its deeper than that. It means to focus on individual state identities that lead a state either to become ally or enemy. In conclusion constructivism believes in the power of knowledge, idea and culture. (Mingst Chapter 3)
The Syrian crisis was given birth after the Arab Upspring. Inspired by the Arab upspring the civilians’ revolt against the Syrian government led by Bashar Al Assad. They formed a rebellion group which protested the lack of freedom and economic woes caused by Syrian government. Most of the allies of Bashar Al Assad were Shia and the rebel group consists of Sunnis. This was the first different religion demographic that could be one of the major reasons of the cause of conflict. The rebel group consisted of brigades and civilians. They were supported by USA troops and gulf countries. USA provided them with training and weapons. There were a lot of difference of opinions arising between both the parties due to their economic and religious factors and hence the peace talk measures led by the united nations were not successful either. The inter-regional conflict increased to the point where they divided Syria into sections. The rebel groups started conquering or gaining power over few areas and the Syrian government in response started conquering as well. The Syrian government was stronger and hence was able to take over Aleppo city then Damascus, and in revolt to these rebel group they started recruiting more people to join their army through social media. Other Groups that took part in causing the crisis in Syria were ISIL and Hezbollah who were backed by Iran and the Kurdish protection units. These groups also played an active role in increasing the tyranny in Syria.
In conclusion it was not just power struggle but difference in religious practice and want for human rights and democracy that lead to dissection of Syria into various groups causing havoc and tyranny in their state and neighboring states as well. (Al Jazeera News)
When we see through realist point of view, USA was going through power struggle and only intervened to the point where it could stabilize his allies in middle east and keep the oil business running. They sent CIA and trained the civilians to some extent. For the most part of the crisis, USA took a backseat because they felt any sign of intervention would lead to onset of war which would lead the state to go in finance deficit. They formed allies with other nations to intervene on the bases of security dilemma. Whereas when we objectively look through constructivists point of view, all USA wanted, and the other nations wanted was to remove Bashar Al Assad from ruling. They wanted to remove him and in turn change the state into democratic state. Hence this gave rise to two different demographics i.e. the Syrian government the dictators and the USA and other countries-the democrats. Through constructivism one can understand that it’s not just security dilemma, but if Bashar Al Assad keeps on leading the state then it might go beyond regional terrorism and can actually lead to international terrorism. This was the root cause for the USA and its allies to intervene and try to stop the conflict. Constructivism explains what realism fails to explain is that USA wanted to intervene one yes to stop him from ruling and to convert the state into democracy but also to help the civilians and get them a better functioning state which compromises of them having fundamental human rights and economic strength.
Constructivism gives importance to identities and here identities of both the USA and its allies and the Syrian government are different and hence this leads them to enter into a conflict. Here the behavioral aspect that constructivist put forward comes into action. How each of these both demographics reacted on the basis of their behavior is the root cause of conflict. The need for USA to revolt and form ally with other nations and try the military option was beyond security dilemma but to persuade the Syrian state to give up dictatorship and inculcate democracy. These two different demographics and their conflicts and the internal religious groups conflicts is best explained through constructivism. There still exists a question that were USA’s efforts to intervene in Syrian civil war enough?