Okay so it seems like the presence of Arab League monitors has had little (lasting) effect on the violence in Syria and this probably won’t change anytime soon.
That’s what you get when you put a Sudanese human rights violator in charge of the mission!
I’m no expert in Syria and my serious interest in the Middle East and its politics was only spawned less than two years ago, but I’ve been studying intervention for many years now and I have a radical idea about what the international community should do in regards to to Syria. This is going to go against the current debate on Syria and, if heard, would likely anger many a human rights advocate, but one should never be afraid of ruffling feathers.
So he we go: the international community should stop discussing intervention in Syria.
[Bracing for Backlash]
Wait, wait, wait… there is a reason for my human rights blasphemy, I promise, and it doesn’t have to do with international politics. Rather, the international community should stop talking (forcible) intervention in order to help save the lives of Syrian civilians. I know this sounds counter-intuitive, I mean interventions are supposed to protect civilians from violence, but talk of intervention without actual intervention can have disastrous effects for the people on the ground. This was the finding of Alan J. Kuperman in a 2008 article in the academic journal International Studies Quarterly. He found that the the current emerging norm of intervention can actually create threats to civilians on the ground. He found that in some cases
rebels will attack state officials deliberately intending to provoke retaliation against their own group’s civilians, to attract international intervention that they deem necessary to attain their political goals. In practice, intervention does sometimes help rebels attain their goals, but usually it is too late or inadequate to avert retaliation against civilians. Thus, the emerging norm causes some genocidal violence that otherwise would not occur (p. 51).
So, in Syria, it definitely looks like there is some accuracy to Kuperman’s findings. For example, the leader of the Free Syrian Army (FSA), upon seeing the poor results of the Arab League monitors, threatened to escalate attacks against government forces. This strategy would appear to be aimed at increasing the level of violence in the country, so that the international community has not other choice but to finally intervene.
At this point, though, the Syrian people cannot count on the international community taking any effective action any time soon. Because of this, the international community might want to work towards lowering the expectations of the FSA and the Syrian people, so that they do not see intervention as their means to get out from under the Assad regime. One way to do this would be to stop any official talk about intervention, so that it at least appears to be less likely to occur. This would likely have an effect on the strategic calculations of the Syrian rebels/protestors, and might reduce their willingness to escalate the violence within Syria. In turn, this might reduce the chances of civilians being caught between the two forces, and/or being the target of retribution from government forces.
I guess if one isn’t willing to back their words up with action, they might want to stop talking.