Syria: Military Intervention or Civil War?

This post is part of our special coverage Syria Protests 2011/12.

After the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) announcement on July 15, 2012, that it considers the conflict in Syria to be a full-blown civil war, Western media sites and bloggers have launched a debate on the secret benefits to those global powers looking for influence in the region.

The ICRC had previously classed the violence in Syria as localized civil wars between government forces and armed opposition groups in Homs, Hama and Idlib. Moreover, President of the ICRC Jakob Kellenberger said earlier that the international organization is the only one able to operate on the ground in Syria. In other words, the ICRC has set down the laws of war.

The blog Military In the Middle East, which is dedicated to military hardware in the region, posted five posts under the subject ‘Civil War in Syria,’ illustrating military action in the main cities of Syria such as Aleppo and Damascus, among others.

In his blog cetri, Alain Gresh wrote a post entitled ‘Civil war or foreign intervention? Deadlock over Syria.’ In it he says:

There is a new split at the heart of the SNC [Syria National Council], led by people such as Haytham al-Maleh and Kamal al-Labwani, former political prisoners who reject the SNC’s foreign alignment. Ammar Qurabi, the former head of Syria’s National Organisation for Human Rights and leader of the National Current for Change, has accused the SNC of marginalising Alawite and Turkmen activists. Syrian Christians, who have watched many Christians flee Iraq, are worried by the rise of the jihadists and the anti-Christian and anti-Alawite slogans chanted by protestors.

Others, like Stephen Lendman, reject the theory of civil war in Syria. He wrote on his blog:

American-style freedom is slavery. Mainstream discourse doesn’t explain. It repeats long ago discredited notions about humanitarian intervention and responsibility to protect (R2P). Protracted violence and bloodshed hardly reflect it.
Washington-led Western generated violence ravages Syria. On Sunday, The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) declared ongoing conflict a civil war.

He argues that it's not the Syrians’ own war, but that of others on their land:

It’s not civil when mostly imported proxies are used. Most Syrians deplore violence and oppose internal and external groups committing it.

On the other hand, other bloggers wrote about Syria's neighbor, Turkey, which was a strong ally to the Syrian regime yet has changed its position towards Syrian President Bashar Al Assad after the early months of the uprising in Syria.

On July 30, the blog A Pseudo-Ottoman Blog: Occasional Musings wrote:

Turkey is part and parcel of the Western alliance as a NATO member and close friend of the U.S. Or is that only Israel, as an imported nation state in the Middle East, can be publicly termed a member of the Western powers??? Nevertheless, Doherty and Bakr’s [Reuters correspondents] sources clearly show that Turkey is now stepping out of the shadows and has publicly assumed a leading role in the mission to topple the Syrian Baath regime.

Michael Blackburnsr supports the idea that the conflict in Syria is a power struggle. He wrote:

There are three main factors that are making a rebel victory seem more likely.
First, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, with Turkey’s facilitation and U.S. coordination, are sending arms to the opposition.
Second, the regime has been rushing the same trusted units around the country to put down upsurges. After many months of battle, these forces are getting tired and stretched thin.
Third, President Bashar al-Assad really has nothing to offer the opposition. He won’t leave and he can’t share power. His strategy of brutal suppression and large-scale killing can neither make the opposition surrender nor wipe it out. Even if he kills civilians and demonstrators, the rebel military forces can pull back to attack another day.

Whether Syrians are in a civil war or a foreign intervention, they are falling everyday and more than 20,000 lives have so far been lost. That made the blog POUMISTA ask “Is the conflict in Syria the new Spanish civil war?”:

[..] Barry Rubin is the latest commentator to suggest that Syria is the Spanish civil war of our time, a contention contested from the right by Daniel Larison. Already in March, veteran journalist Arnaud de Borchgrave had made the same point: Is Syria 2011 the same as Spain 1936

This post is part of our special coverage Syria Protests 2011/12.

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