The Syrian Civil War is an ongoing multi-sided conflict between the current government of Syria and various opposing forces. Now in its fifth year, the war is the worst humanitarian crisis in the 21st century, with about 250,000 killed and 4 million displaced from their homes. The conflict began when pro-democracy protests commenced in 2011 after the arrest and torture of teenagers who had painted revolutionary slogans on a wall. Police shot and killed some demonstrators after which more demonstrators took to the streets. The outcome was a nationwide protest that demanded President Assad to resign. The government’s use of force only made the matters worse. Hundreds of thousands of people joined the protest across the country and some opposition supporters eventually took up arms, initially for defense and later to drive out security forces from their neighborhoods. Although there are many factors at play regarding the progression of the conflict, an in-depth analysis of the war exposes various realist, liberal, and radical elements.
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First, the Syrian conflict can be perceived through the realist lens by examining the state as pursuers of material interests and viewing inter-state politics as a scuffle of power. Indeed, by looking at how various states have responded to the aggressions of other states through balance one discovers the reality of the conflict. In reality, the Syrian War is not only a civilian but also an inter-state conflict where many international powers are involved. Assad’s government obtains support from Iran and Russia while the opposing side benefits from the United States and its allies. Although Russia initially intervened militarily with the aim of obliterating the ISIS fighting group, it did so to target Assad’s opponents (Spaulding 4). Such intervention can only be justified in terms of power balance aimed at countering United States influence in the region.
Second, liberalists can view the Syrian conflict as a quest for peace and humanitarian intervention. It is evident that Assad’s regime has failed to protect the rights of its citizens (Haugbølle). In fact, it has breached international norms by using chemical weapons, killing civilians, and bombing Syrian cities. International intervention can therefore be seen as a mission for restoring human dignity and peace within Syria. Liberalists claim that the United States along with Russian and other intervening democracies have exercised aggression towards non-liberalists in Syria to protect human lives and promote human right because safeguarding such rights makes the world a better and safer place for all nations.
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Lastly, the radical element of the Syrian Civil conflict is the solution of overthrowing dictatorial elites to revolutionize the government and battle intervening foreigners whom are believed to be operating on their own selfish interests. Indeed, various jihadist groups and rebels have come forth in the course of the conflict with the sponsorship of the Assad regime. A radical Islamic dynamic has now grown in the opposition, complicating U.S. involvement in the war (Rubin). Internally, Assad’s regime has utilized the threat of radical jihadists to build support for his regime among various radical communities such as Alawite and Christians. It has also disheartened Sunnis from joining opposition. In summary, an in-depth analysis of the Syrian civil war exposes various realist, liberal, and radical elements, proving that the conflict is not only a multifaceted but complicated one.
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