Lillian Bogonko

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Why is the international community reluctant to declare the situation in Syria a civil war?

I read an article today on http://www.aljazeera.com/programmes/insidesyria/2012/08/201282683723964944.html? which got me thinking about the situation in Syria. What are the consequences of it being called a civil war and why does it matter given that people are dying shouldn`t something be done all the same?

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    Aug 27 2012: the UN debated for endless months how to classify the events in rwanda. one can not help but think that they wanted to find excuses why they don't have to do a thing. by the time they came to a conclusion, genocide of many hundreds of thousands came to an end on its own, as it was basically finished.

    the UN is an organization with the primary goal of discussing why they don't have to do certain things. i could do that for half of the money they spend. consider that an offer.
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      Aug 30 2012: This is actually a fantastic answer... but, it begs the question... Can we fix it? Or, is the concept of a group of people that large and varied, working together, simply impossible? Can the UN have anything but relativistic morality, given the enormous scope of their collaboration?

      I would like to suggest, that if there was an impartial international news organization, maybe a not for profit, that the people of most nations trusted, that news organization, could have convinced the vast majority of people, in the vast majority of nations, to do something about what was going on in Rwanda, very quickly. I think a few generals would have been chomping at the bit, in most of the western world "They've only got machete's, we won't even have to kill them... I can control this situation, get me in there". The concept of individuals from many nations, actually organizing to protect the weak, and create a sense of international nonviolence, is a good concept is it not?

      So that's my real question, is there a way to reform the UN, into an international organization that actually does what it was intended to do? Or, must it be replaced/destroyed? I can accept, "what the propaganda said it would do", with "what it was intended to do", if you must. However, the concept of an impartial world authority on war crimes, and genocide, was a pretty decent idea, was it not?
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    Aug 27 2012: With international politics one has to be careful. There is an attempt to villify Assad and the Syrian government as if they are the evil ones; and the opposition? Oh, they have to be the saints who are fighting for human rights and yada yada yada....

    I'm not saying that President Assad is a saint, and I'm not saying that the opposition are rebels without a good cause. But what happens to world peace if leaders are removed anytime there is an opposition movement? In Nigeria now we have the Boko Haram sect fighting against the government. The government is corrupt and so on; but does that mean corrupt governments should be removed anytime there is enough people to form a rag-tag army and label them rebels?

    The real question we should be asking is: who are the people trying to get rid of the Assad government? In issues like this, things are not always what they seem. This seems to me like the Arab version of the 'Charles Taylor destabilizing Sierra Leone' experience.

    Just my opinion.
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      Aug 28 2012: I agree that no government should be forced out of office, but where do we draw the line? Until half the population is gone? Why are some situations ok to intervene or label civil wars and not others.

      From what i have read, labeling a situation a civil wars has implications. It means that the perpetrators can be charged for war crimes and crimes against humanity. That the combatants on both ends are recognizable. But this is not always the case.

      Yes interests and all come into play, but am more concerned about international law at this particular point. The laws are so grey that its tough to apply them uniformly. So who do we blame for the situation in Syria having understood all the dimensions?
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        Aug 30 2012: The Syrian people... and everyone who takes advantage of them.
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    Aug 30 2012: Pardon me for being a cynic, but the reason why syria hasn't been declared a war and the international community hasn't intervened is because Syria doesn't have any natural resources that anyone else wants. Much like the Rwandan situation brought up by Krisztián below.
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    Sep 1 2012: I guess, if there are no real atrocities being committed by either side (discounting collateral damage, that is civilian deaths, which always occur) than it's an national problem. If there are atrocities like in Rwanda they should intervene. The United Nations did intervene, I think France was given that problem, but not on a large scale.

    All in all, I think Peter Lindsay hit the nail on the head.
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    Aug 31 2012: The UN 'communist' countries are against it because they say that "one should not interfere in other countries problems". As that might be true, Syria is no longer a political problem. It is a civil war with many cases of summary executions and mass graves.

    However, the UN showed again that it has no power to really stop things before they are out of hand (In my opinion they are already out of hand). I leave a question here for fellow tedsters: why do some countries have veto option on the security council. In my opinion, it makes no sense, as important measures can be stopped just by other countries ideologies instead of the defense of human rights.
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    Aug 28 2012: The short answer is Russia, China, and North Korea.ri

    The Syrian Rebels are taking prisoners of war and trying them in military courts, finding them guilty and executing them. In most civilized countries, such trials should be conducted after the conflict, by a viable government court system.

    The Syrians have not created a counter government to supplant the current government. While we may not like the way the conflict is being played out, the current government has the right to use all the military might at it's disposal to counter the Rebels especially if there are sufficient members of the population who support the current government.

    The Red Cross has the most definitive answer to what is a civil ware, arguing that the rules listed by the United Nations are too broad and vague. Wikipedia has some interesting answers.



    How does the nation of Kenya describe the conflict in Syria? Does Kenya say it is a Civil War?
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    Gail .

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    Aug 27 2012: What something would you like to do?

    Yes, I think something should be done, but what I would like to do is very likely not what you have in mind.

    Anytime one party forces another or others to bow to its will, it's just another type of aggression. It's like putting a lid on a fire to cause the flames to die out, but at some point after you lift the lid, the flames will again erupt.

    People don't know what peace is or they would be at peace within themselves, and in this way bring peace into their world. Peace is a POWER.
  • Aug 27 2012: I suspect that international law is involved.
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    Aug 27 2012: I think they are waiting for Assad to make a mistake that would make it undeniable and the fact that risking troops lives in the middle east would bring a short victory but the long term effect could bring greater destabilization and fracturing forcing those countries that do step in to remain,no one wants another Afghanistan.My Opinion is a possible not an actual.
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    Aug 27 2012: Who are those international community?
    Even if they declare it so , what will be the outcome ?
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    E G

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    Aug 27 2012: Don't mind but this is a naive question --- there are interests in game there .