Syrian conflict, with inspiration from the Arab spring in the North of Africa, began in March 2011. Though it began as protests against President Bashar al-Assad’s rule, it crossed an important threshold in September 2012 when the International Red Cross society declared it a civil war. Even as the international community remains divided over the conflict resolution method to use in this situation, the rate at which the violence continues to escalate throughout the country remains alarming (Yazigi par. 3).
In mid-March next year, if status quo remains the same, the Syrian community will mark four years of civil disobedience and societal disintegration. Since then, the violence has pushed collateral damage to damning statistics. International allies and foes continue to have frosty relationships over the best method of resolving the conflict even as death toll and the number of refugees continue to rise. Several hurdles exist in the struggle restore sanity in Syria with world leading countries holding conflicting opinions on Assad’s fate.
In the meantime, the war continues and innocent civilians, especially women and children continue to pay the price for the war. This paper seeks to develop an analysis of reconciliation as the best methods resolving the Syrian situation, and, at the same time, appreciates the possible solutions from other quarters.
Key Players and Stakeholders
In order to restore sanity and bring peace to Syria, several stakeholders need to come together to develop a working formula. The warring parties both at the diplomatic levels and at local political scene must develop a comprehensive working group for a successful peace pact. The United Nations, the US, Russia, France, China, UK, and the European Union must shelve their different opinions and come up with a lasting solution.
Difference arising from the “Responsibility to Protect” crusade led by the US and her allies and “State Sovereignty” school of thought led by Russia need outright elimination for a complete truce (Ghitis par. 1). Similarly, the government of Syria and the opposition need to reach an amicable compromise to abandon their demands that continue to expose Syria to gross human rights violation.
Possible Solutions to the Crisis
For the last three years and eight months, Syria has undergone a series of transformation. The rise of the Arab spring instigated spontaneous protests in the country. Over this time, violence took systematic trends with opposition and government forces holding onto their horses.
The resultant damage remains an imaginable. With the Red Cross society declaring the violence a war over two years ago, the death statistics continue to worry. Several Syrians continue to flee the country. The increasing number of war refugees in Syria’s neighboring country is alarming even as the international community remains divided over the possible solutions.
Despite all these statistics, moral ground, peaceful nations, seems elusive. However, several options remain available for implementation to bring Syria back to her feet. The following section discusses the possible solutions.
Conflict resolution is a process that necessitates an agreement that takes into account the interests of all the parties involved in the conflict. It enables a resultant situation that allows the opposing parties’ interests to prevail. In order to come up with a reasonable and solution binding to all parties, the parties involved must shelve a few of the powers as they come to the table of agreement (Bercovitch 32).
For this reason, international peace brokerage needs to take an intrinsic analysis of the situation in Syria in order to develop a unifying solution. Threats and inducement need elimination from the pictures. This means that all the dissenting parties need to come up with a reconciliatory system that takes into account their plights in especially during the times of war.
Ceasefire that fails to consider the plight of the military working under Bashar al-Assad’s and the predicament of the opposition will created great animosity in the country. A conflict resolution, for Syria, need to develop systematic process of peace making, reconciliation, and basic focus on the parties in question.
It only under such a circumstance that a new relationship that promotes conducive, stable peace and mutual coexistence is possible in Syria. The Syrian conflict needs adequate understanding of the warring factions. Even though the ruling regime remains “the major elephant in the house,” a series of minor conflicts and dissatisfactions need to be addressed adequately before reaching an ultimate solution with the ruling regime.
The opposing groups should develop a unifying factor and disengage their myopic goals, especially on the type of religious, ethnic, and political class rules (Lansford 74). Sunni Muslim insurgents need the support of the Christian minority groups just like the Alawites elites need the support of other tribes to develop a solution with the Assad-led government.
It is important to note that the difference between the opposing groups works to the advantage of the ruling government, thus derailing numerous efforts of the international community to save Syria from Assad’s hostile grip on power. The section below discusses some of the conditions necessary for developing a reconciliatory mood among the dissenting parties in this war. Therefore, the application of game theory in this case can help minimize the conflict.
Just like in the case of World War II where the US opted to become non-aggressive to enhance cooperation, this case can follow the same process. Even presently, Washington and Moscow have been cooperating to avert a nuclear war amidst the intense cold war standoffs (Smith par. 2). Markedly, the Ukrainian crisis is not a different case.
In the just concluded G20 summit in Brisbane, Australia, it was evident that most nations were pointing fingers at Russia for playing games with the situation, instead of using diplomatic approaches to settle it. In the same conference, Barack Obama reiterated that it is not at the best interest of the US to lay economic sanctions on Russia since it is not yet too late to give diplomacy a chance (White House: diplomacy key to ending Syria conflict par. 2).
Similarly, applying economic sanctions on Syria will adversely affect the poor, innocent population more than the political leaders. This makes this approach quite inhuman considering that the situation is already worse.
Mutual Acknowledgement of Nationhood
Under this condition, all the warring parties must shelve their egocentric characters that define nationalities of the Syrians. Tribe, religion, political class, and other factors that create animosity among the Syrian population need total elimination from the society.
The Sunni Islamists, Christian minority groups, Alawites, and other tribal and political groups must accept each other as authentic and original members of Syria. It is also important to respect and appreciate the practices of the different groups with utmost cohesion and inclusivity.
Development of a Common Moral Ground for Peace
In this condition, it is important for the mediators and drivers of peaceful conditions to instigate a common moral basis for cohesive habitation among the warring parties in Syria. All the parties must develop an overall agreement that develops a detailed analysis of the repercussions of war against the benefits of cohesive and peaceful coexistence (Ghitis par. 8).
It is at this point that application of game theory is mandatory. Government forces and opposition need to understand that tribal, civil, and religious conflicts derail economic growth, kill populations, maim individuals, and rapture the Syrian international diplomacy and cooperation strategies. Developing a uniform agreement against the issue of war creates a starting point for peace building and reconciliation among the warring parties.
Syria’s education system during the last three years remains a pale shadow of the situation before 2011. With over 90% enrollment in primary schools, the future looked bright. Syria led the Middle East countries in terms of enrolment. However, three years into the civil strife, education statistics remains worrying. Close to half of the school going age are out of school due to war. Similar statistics are existent in the refugee camps with the number of children out of school rising as the war continues.
Education plays a vital role in managing conflicts. Leading interested parties such as the US, China, Russia, and the European Union must develop educational frameworks to tap into the rising number of children and youth out of education center. Once youth and high school students leave school, especially in terms of war, they become vulnerable to recruitment into militia groups. Armed with extreme energy levels and little military training, this group of people represents the brutal base of opposing armies.
Offering adequate education in Syrian schools and refugee camps can help regulate the number of recruitment of youth into the armies (Ackerman par. 3). However, setting up educational systems needs adequate understanding of the Syrian situation. Gender structures, humanitarian aid level, willingness of the school going ages, and hostility level needs adequate evaluation lest setting up educational structures fail.
In military studies, the basic and fundamental driver of building an army is war. The Syrian government has an army sworn under her constitution to protect her sovereignty. This implies that the sitting government has the constitutional mandate to deal with any uprising.
The cost notwithstanding, Assad-led government has the legal mandate to rule until the next election. Therefore protecting this mandate is an obligation whatsoever the cost. The civil society, human rights groups, and citizens however, harbor the absolute power on their leaders. Any form of dissatisfaction needs immediate address under the constitutional dispensation.
Civil disobedience remains one of the protected pillars of civil and human activism. However, all breaks lose immediately the civil disobedience trends take the Ku Klax Klan school of thought. Violence set in and people die (Gardener 43). When opposition sets out on a violent route to express their disagreement with the leaders, it is the responsibility of sitting government to quell the violence. This is a recipe for war.
When violence set in, all the parties need to understand where the back stops. The United Nations Security Council under the clause on responsibility to protect must come in. Russia and China must develop a working relationship with the US, France, UK, and the European Union to quell the violence. Just as NATO did in Libya, the argument should remain the failure of Assad to right the wrongs of the father for the twelve years he was in power with stability.
However, this intervention needs proper implementation to prevent issues of collateral damage and human rights abuses. Implementing a military intervention from the UN Security Council becomes difficult given Russia close diplomacy and military ties with Syria.
Such ties mean Russia and her allies like China and Iran would take an opposite position to the US and her allies. Turkey and Israel being allies of US and close neighbors of Syria, may endure the most casualties in case of US military invasion of Syria. War spillovers may cross the borders. World War III could easily arise (Yazigi 23).
The US has imposed three types of sanctions on Syria. The Syria Accountability Act of 2004 prohibits the export of goods containing at least 10% of US manufactured components. USA Patriot Act, enacted to bring Commercial Bank of Syria to its knees in 2006, and specific presidential orders restraining the certain Syrian citizen from accessing US driven financial services.
The third sanction aims at containing the rising number of weapon proliferation especially among groups such as Taliban and Al Queda thus destabilizing in Syria’s main allies such as Iraq and Lebanon. Some of the activities that these sanctions aim to eliminate are highlighted below.
- New investment in Syria by a US person;
- Direct and/or indirect exportation, sale, and/or supply of services to Syria;
- Importation of petroleum related products into the US from Syria;
- Any transaction involving US person in any petroleum related product from Syria; and
- Any approval, financing, and/or guarantee by US person to any Syrian citizen
In 2011, the European Union imposed serious economic sanctions against the Assad-led government. Arms embargo, travel advisories, and asset freezing play an integral in regulating the resources necessary for funding war. Sanctions may help control the violence rate.
However, opportunistic allies may find a window of engagement with Syria. Cold war between US and Russia may set it. Gross effects of this may lead to increased war casualties. For example, in the event that the US and her allies supply the opposition with weapons, Russia and her allies may supply Assad and his military. This compromises the ultimate goal of conflict resolution (The Crisis in Syria par. 7).
Conclusion and Recommendation
Game theory represent a strategic decision making model. In economic, it involves the application of the most viable alternative acceptable by different players in the market. Such an alternative becomes an implementation when all the parties involved subscribe to it and earn benefits in the process.
Taking game theory into perspective, reconciliation offers the best viable mode of resolving the Syrian conflict. Even though partisan parties like the US and Russia need to compromise the differences for the benefit of the Syrian citizens, it offers the best possible alternative with few risks in place. In essence, the international community and all stakeholders must develop mechanisms for cooperation.
Even though others hold the view of using economic sanctions and force to restore peace, the two approaches have great humanitarian consequences. In this aspect, the sanctity of life comes into play. Every person has the right to life; therefore, approaches that tend to deny individuals this fundamental human right are not effective in solving the crisis.
In essence, using the game theory in reconciliation, all parties will bring-forth their grievances for neutral mediation. When all the parties involved in the Syrian conflict highlight their interests through dialogue, it becomes highly likely that a productive outcome will be eminent. The theory presents a “win-win situation” in which no party is a loser or winner at the end of a negotiation.
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Bercovitch, Jacob. The Sage Handbook of Conflict Resolution. London: Sage, 2009. Print.
Ghitis, Frida. Syrian war is everybody’s problem. 2013.
Lansford, Tom. Conflict Resolution. Detroit: Greenhaven Press, 2008. Print.
Smith, Shane. Game Theory. 2003.
The Crisis in Syria. 2014.
White House: diplomacy key to ending Syria conflict. 2014.
Yazigi, Jihad. Syria’s War Economy. 2014.