Global Ethics Corner: Should the International Community Intervene in Syria?

February 17, 2012

It's been almost a year since the start of anti-government protests in Syria in March 2011. What began as small and fragmented demonstrations has evolved into a bloody confrontation between the Syrian government and opposition forces.

The ongoing government crackdown on civilians has grown increasingly violent and has drawn the attention of the international community.

Last December, the Arab League, in an attempt to stop violence, sent an observer mission to Syria. It lasted little more than a month and ended amid a surge in fighting between the Syrian government and the opposition.

On February 4, 2012, members of the UN Security Council, led by the U.S., sought a resolution to condemn the bloodshed in Syria and stop the violence—a move blocked by a veto from Russia and China.

Experts are debating how to deal with the crisis. Some argue that the current sanctions policy is weak and stronger sanctions may not work either. The Assad regime has previously withstood sanctions. Plus, it has a strong alliance with Iran. Therefore, the argument goes, efforts to stop the bloodshed must be scaled up, either by imposing a no-fly zone to create a ''safe area'' for Syrian rebels, or by providing financial and military support to the Syrian opposition.

Critics contend that force should be ruled out because conditions on the ground make a successful humanitarian intervention unlikely. For example, they argue that clashes between government forces and rebels occur in densely populated urban environments and thus a no-fly-zone would be hard to enforce. Moreover, they warn against a possible proxy-war fought at the expense of innocent civilians.

Where do you stand? Should there be an intervention in Syria?

By Emil Chireno

Photo Credits in order of Appearance:
syriana2011 [also for picture 6]
Elizabeth Arrott, Voice of America [also for pictures 3, 11, and 12]
JD Lasica
Fabio Rodrigues Pozzebom/ABr
Daniella Zalcman
United Nations Photo

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