FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Time to Call the Syrian War What It Is

As the cumulative number of Syrian internally displaced persons (IDPs) and refugees are reaching over seven million—one third of the country’s total population—we have to stop thinking about ‘Syrian civil war’ and start thinking about ‘Syrian genocide.’ With each spur of violence, more people joined the ranks of IDPs or refugees, with little to no hope of humanitarian living conditions, education, or future. Unless the international community can treat this crisis as genocide and ponder long and hard about its long-term effects, it is highly unlikely that they will realize the need for ceasing violence and restoring some kind of order.

Unfortunately, Assad and armed opposition groups have more influence on people’s lives compared to the non-violent resistance that is taking shape in Syria. This has dire consequences due to one simple fact: violence begets displacement. In a recent interview, the head of the Syrian Arab Red Crescent stated that the numbers of IDPs are on the rise and now it exceeded 5 million. According to the latest UNHCR numbers, surrounding countries are hosting more than 2 million refugees. What is worse, a recent report highlights the fact that most of the refugees in refugee camps are not registered and thus are not counted within UNHCR’s numbers.

What is worse, the same report suggests that refugee camps are not unlike prisons. Not only there is a decline in children’s education matched with a rise in child labor, but also the refugees in the camps are under strict surveillance. Perhaps, the worst of all, they do not help people with a sense of fulfillment: “you receive your daily portion of food and water and are asked to wait, hopelessly, passively.” It is not a surprise, then, to read that some Syrians are leaving the relative security of the refugee camps and going back into the warzone.

Every spur of violence creates more and more IDPs and refugees—and numbers will only increase over time as violence continues. While the international community made a rare intelligent decision of not bombing Syria, so far they have not helped ceasing violence. In fact, an unintended consequence of the deal between Russia and the US about Syrian chemical weapons have been the increase of violence between Assad and opposition groups, as well as between the opposition groups themselves. While the Assad regime hailed the deal as a victory (and celebrated with air/shell strikes around Damascus), armed opposition groups perceived the deal as a legitimation of the Assad regime. This disappointment coincides with new violence between previously aligned Sunni armed opposition groups, and between Sunni and Kurdish resistance.

The international community supports this violence. As a recent article in the Time magazine puts it: Syria’s Rebels Turn on One Another, and that is not a Bad Thing. The article treats the increasing violence among armed opposition groups as an “opportunity” to shed off affiliations with al-Qaeda, organize, unite and fight back. In addition to a pseudo-colonial imposition of legitimization of violence unto other, the article also does not note the real consequences of violence. According to a report published by the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic, while not at the level of the Assad’s forces, armed opposition groups also engage in war crimes, senseless murder, rape and other horrors of war; and they “continue to endanger the civilian population by positioning military objectives in civilian areas.”

Moreover, supporting armed opposition, hoping one of them will defeat Assad, is not different than supporting an international military intervention. Both cases increase violence, displacement, and gain almost no ground towards a solution. While the international military intervention was shot down in almost every country, supporting the resistance achieves the same goal without the bad reputation. Supporting armed opposition groups ensures the continuity of violence, without the ‘west’ doing the dirty work—appearing clear in conscience to their public.

Instead of supporting armed groups, the international community should lend their support and give voice to non-violent resistance and call for cease-fire across all the groups—the only way to stop further increase in the number of IDPs and refugees—matched with an increased help in dealing with the refugee crisis. Violence among armed groups, opposition or not, only ensures that generations of Syrians grow up with no education, trauma, poverty and other terrors of war. And that is a systematic way to eradicate people based on who they are. That is genocide.

Ali E. Erol, Ph.D. is a lecturer in the School of International Service at The American University.

More articles by:
Weekend Edition
July 20, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Paul Atwood
Peace or Armageddon: Take Your Pick
Paul Street
No Liberal Rallies Yet for the Children of Yemen
Nick Pemberton
The Bipartisan War on Central and South American Women
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Are You Putin Me On?
Andrew Levine
Sovereignty: What Is It Good For? 
Brian Cloughley
The Trump/NATO Debacle and the Profit Motive
David Rosen
Trump’s Supreme Pick Escalates America’s War on Sex 
Melvin Goodman
Montenegro and the “Manchurian Candidate”
Salvador   Rangel
“These Are Not Our Kids”: The Racial Capitalism of Caging Children at the Border
Matthew Stevenson
Going Home Again to Trump’s America
Louis Proyect
Jeremy Corbyn, Bernie Sanders and the Dilemmas of the Left
Patrick Cockburn
Iraqi Protests: “Bad Government, Bad Roads, Bad Weather, Bad People”
Robert Fantina
Has It Really Come to This?
Russell Mokhiber
Kristin Lawless on the Corporate Takeover of the American Kitchen
John W. Whitehead
It’s All Fake: Reality TV That Masquerades as American Politics
Patrick Bobilin
In Your Period Piece, I Would be the Help
Ramzy Baroud
The Massacre of Inn Din: How Rohingya Are Lynched and Held Responsible
Robert Fisk
How Weapons Made in Bosnia Fueled Syria’s Bleak Civil War
Gary Leupp
Trump’s Helsinki Press Conference and Public Disgrace
Josh Hoxie
Our Missing $10 Trillion
Martha Rosenberg
Pharma “Screening” Is a Ploy to Seize More Patients
Basav Sen
Brett Kavanaugh Would be a Disaster for the Climate
David Lau
The Origins of Local AFT 4400: a Profile of Julie Olsen Edwards
Rohullah Naderi
The Elusive Pursuit of Peace by Afghanistan
Binoy Kampmark
Shaking Establishments: The Ocasio-Cortez Effect
John Laforge
18 Protesters Cut Into German Air Base to Protest US Nuclear Weapons Deployment
Christopher Brauchli
Trump and the Swedish Question
Chia-Chia Wang
Local Police Shouldn’t Collaborate With ICE
Paul Lyons
YouTube’s Content ID – A Case Study
Jill Richardson
Soon You Won’t be Able to Use Food Stamps at Farmers’ Markets, But That’s Not the Half of It
Kevin MacKay
Climate Change is Proving Worse Than We Imagined, So Why Aren’t We Confronting its Root Cause?
Thomas Knapp
Elections: More than Half of Americans Believe Fairy Tales are Real
Ralph Nader
Warner Slack—Doctor for the People Forever
Lee Ballinger
Soccer, Baseball and Immigration
Louis Yako
Celebrating the Wounds of Exile with Poetry
Ron Jacobs
Working Class Fiction—Not Just Surplus Value
Perry Hoberman
You Can’t Vote Out Fascism… You Have to Drive It From Power!
Robert Koehler
Guns and Racism, on the Rocks
Nyla Ali Khan
Kashmir: Implementation with Integrity and Will to Resolve
Justin Anderson
Elon Musk vs. the Media
Graham Peebles
A Time of Hope for Ethiopia
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Homophobia in the Service of Anti-Trumpism is Still Homophobic (Even When it’s the New York Times)
Martin Billheimer
Childhood, Ferocious Sleep
David Yearsley
The Glories of the Grammophone
Tom Clark
Gameplanning the Patriotic Retributive Attack on Montenegro
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail