How Not to End the War in Syria
Posted on: Thursday, May 9, 2013
As the war engulfing Syria worsens, the Obama Administration must prioritize the needs of civilians and resist the growing pressure for military intervention. Diplomacy and increased humanitarian aid are what’s needed now to alleviate suffering and build peace.
Syrians are facing one of the most severe humanitarian crises in the world as President Bashar al-Assad clings to power amidst an escalating civil war. More than one in three Syrians needs urgent assistance, according to the United Nations, and more than 1.4 million refugees have flooded into neighboring countries, a number that grows by the day. Women and girls have been targeted with sexual violencedeliberately used to terrorize, a threat many cited as their primary reason for fleeing the country.
We are all witness to this suffering and the urge for action to alleviate it is a compassionate impulse that must guide US policy. But today’s growing call for military intervention is a false solution that would only intensify the conflict.
A rising chorus of US politicians, led by Senators John McCain and Lindsay Graham, are calling for the creation of a “no-fly zone” to disable the Syrian government’s air force. Yet the US bombing required to create and enforce a “no-fly zone” would almost certainly kill and injure more people.
Moreover, roughly 10% of casualties in Syria have been caused by Assad’s Air Force. The vast majority have been brutalized by ground forces, rendering a “no fly zone” a very weak form of protection. The real aim of the policy is to demonstrate US military force in the region, in the hopes of securing US credibility in the eyes of leaders in places like Iran and North Korea.
The Administration is also facing increased pressure from politicians like Senator Robert Menendez to arm the Syrian opposition. However, there is no singular opposition. The rebels are a conglomeration, including foreign fighters sent by Saudi Arabia and other countries hostile to Iran, and reactionary Islamist forces, including some allied with Al-Qaeda. The secular, democratic voices that were at the forefront of the uprising two years ago have been sidelined.
Syria is already awash in weapons that will be circulating in the area for years to come. Funneling more arms to the opposition would fuel their brutal battle tactics, intensify the war, and further diminish chances of a democratic outcome for Syria.
Many of the politicians now calling on President Obama to “step up” and help topple Syria's Assad are those who invariably champion the use of force to project US power abroad. Among them are the architects of the Iraq War and the cheerleaders for a US/Israeli attack on Iran.
Instead of policies that fuel the violence, we need increased diplomatic efforts to end the war in Syria and increased humanitarian aid. Today, US Secretary of State John Kerry will announce $100 million in aid to civilians, following an earlier announcement of plans for an international conference to negotiate an end to the conflict. These humanitarian and diplomatic efforts are a step in the right direction, but they are insufficient. The UN estimated last December that $1.5 billion would be required to meet the basic needs of Syrian refugees for just the first six months of this year.
The majority of these refugees are Syrian women and their children. Women are struggling bravely to provide for traumatized and increasingly destitute displaced families and their leadership in distributing aid and caring for those made most vulnerable by the war should be supported.
Moreover, women and girls are facing serious threats of sexual violence, child marriage and forced prostitution in the context of the war and as refugees. To address these pressing issues, women’s voices must be included in the design and implementation of aid programs and in eventual negotiations.
By Yifat Susskind, Executive Director
Archives"Press Room" Home October 2014 September 2014 August 2014 July 2014 June 2014 May 2014 April 2014 March 2014 February 2014 January 2014 December 2013 November 2013 October 2013 September 2013 August 2013 July 2013 June 2013 May 2013 April 2013 March 2013 February 2013 January 2013 December 2012 November 2012 October 2012 September 2012 August 2012 July 2012 June 2012 May 2012 April 2012 March 2012 February 2012 January 2012 December 2011 November 2011 October 2011 September 2011 August 2011 July 2011 June 2011 May 2011 April 2011 March 2011 February 2011 January 2011 December 2010 November 2010 October 2010 September 2010 August 2010 July 2010 June 2010 May 2010 April 2010 March 2010 February 2010 January 2010 December 2009 November 2009 October 2009 September 2009 August 2009 July 2009 June 2009 May 2009 April 2009 March 2009 February 2009 January 2009 December 2008 November 2008 October 2008 September 2008 August 2008 July 2008 June 2008 May 2008 April 2008 March 2008 February 2008 January 2008 December 2007 November 2007 October 2007 September 2007 August 2007 June 2007 May 2007 April 2007 March 2007 February 2007 January 2007 December 2006 November 2006 October 2006 September 2006 July 2006 June 2006 April 2006 March 2006 January 2006 December 2005 November 2005 September 2005 August 2005 July 2005 April 2005 March 2005 November 2004 October 2004 April 2004 March 2004 January 2004 December 2003 October 2003 September 2003 June 2003 April 2003 January 2003 September 2002 June 2002 January 2002 November 2001 October 2001 September 2001 August 2001 January 2001
MADRE & Our Partners Make News
Forbidden Talk - Prostitution in the Middle East (Levant TV, October 7, 2014)
Women's Organizations Fighting Against Gender-Based Violence in Iraq (Girls' Globe, October 1, 2014)
We all know about jihadists, but what about those waging an 'anti-jihad'? (Reuter, October 1, 2014)
Breaking the gridlock of climate change negotiations: learning from allies (openDemocracy, September 29, 2014)
Arab and Jewish midwives find a common language (Haaretz, September 12, 2014)