Syrian Zaatari Refugee Camp
On The Surface
The 1916 Treaty of Sykes Picot divided up the Middle East into the modern day countries we now recognize with a complete disregard for the ethnic and cultural divides amongst the locals. For the first time, ethnic groups attempted to coexist. One of these examples is the Alawite-Sunni conflict in Syria. An age-old conflict led to a dictatorship, and then to a civil war. With this war continuing to be waged, the international community must devise a solution. The possibilities are outlined below.
The most difficult option is containment. Alawites comprise 11% of the Syrian population, but hold all major positions of power. This polarizes other Muslim sects and leads to instability. Due to the small Alawite population, a containment approach can be adopted. This approach entails the containment of Alawites into a significant region of land. Home rule, and complete autonomy would be delegated in this case. This can be easily achieved. Latakia, a region in North-West Syria houses almost all of the Alawites in the country. Containment would allow for more Sunni autonomy, and an escape from violent oppression. A solution such as this can be achieved, but will require international cooperation and intervention.
Reshuffling The Army
This solution proposes a top-to-bottom restructuring of the Syrian National Army. Assad’s rise to power saw Alawites in both the bureaucracy and army rise to power as well. The shift in power led to major polarization of Sunni foot soldiers and a perpetuation of the Syrian civil war. By restructuring the military and allowing for Sunni’s to garner some presence in the higher echelons, some violence can be avoided. Furthermore, this will lead to a more effective fighting force as a whole– better at countering an ever mounting ISIS presence in Syria.
Securing The Border
The whole theory behind this solution is to strip power away from Assad in order to reinstate stability. Sectarianism 101 dictates that leaders will often times perpetuate instability in order to depict themselves as the sole protectorate of the people. This often times leads to a rally around the flag effect by garnering the leader in power more popularity. This is exactly what is occurring between Assad and ISIS. Although ISIS continues to have it’s way with the region, Assad is using this to his advantage. By sending in international military forces, possibly through the UN or NATO, border security can be increased. This will sever ISIS movement into Syria and undermine Assad’s power. This is the easiest of the proposed solutions, and the most effective.
The Syrian civil war continues to rage on. The international community is provided with possibilities, but it is up to them to take advantage of them. Failure to respond in apt time will result in a continuation of the refugee crisis, as well as a perpetuation of ethnic violence.