Blog Post 2, Syrian Crisis

The crisis in Syria is particularly interesting in terms of whether it should be considered genocide as it both meets and does not meet the  U.N.  Convention on Genocide’s criteria as one of the four protected groups.  In March 2016, United States Secretary of State John Kerry released a statement saying “in my judgment, Daesh {ISIS} is responsible for genocide against groups in areas under its control including Yazidis, Christians, and Shia Muslims”.  The U.N. Convention on Genocide identifies four protected groups in it’s definition including: national, ethnic, racial, or religious.  By U.S. Secretary of State Kerry’s explanation,  the religious groups of the Yazidis, Christians, and Shia Muslims are specifically being targeted (The Guardian) and would in-fact meet the U.N. criteria as a protected group falling under the religious category.  The U.N. has still failed to declare the atrocities being committed in Syria as genocide.

If we look at the history of the crisis in Syria, it may help explain why the U.N. has been hesitant to declare it a genocide.  We know the four protected groups include national, ethnic, racial, or religious – however it does not include political.  The crisis in Syria began back in 2011 after a serious of peaceful protests opposing then Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. In retaliation, Assad began a “brutal crackdown on growing peaceful protests throughout the country… using tanks, attack helicopters and artillery against protesters and the torture and execution of children”. (United to End Genocide)  Assad’s attacks led to the start of a full fledged civil war within Syria against Assad’s regime, allied militias, and the rise of a new deadly extremist group: ISIS.  What started out as a group of peaceful political protestors escalated to a violent bloody war where the original members of the peaceful political movement became targets of both the Assad regime and Daesh,

In August of 2013, the Syrian regime utilized chemical warfare that resulted in the death of over 1,400 people. Daesh is estimated to have killed more than 4,500 people, including civilians, often in mass executions, and has taken hundreds of women as sex slaves.  Since the crisis began in 2011, and estimated 220,000 people have been killed and there is an estimated 4 million displaced Syrian refugees.  (United to End Genocide)

Many speculate that the U.N.’s indecision to declare the crisis a genocide for fear of “playing in to the perception of a Christian crusade to combat Islam” (The Guardian) and how to successfully combat and defeat a non-state terrorist group such as ISIS.  It appears that this indecision may have also been influenced by the original conflict stemming from the targeted group being a political group.  If the original conflict stemmed from a political movement against the Assad regime, did the U.N. have proper jurisdiction to take action?  Or were they concerned that countries should be allowed to “fight it out in a civil war”?

I think the indecision has resulted in severe loss of innocent Syrian life, and the the 8 stages of genocide can clearly be identified over the past 4 years of violent history.


Holpuch, Amanda. 2016 “The Guardian” —

Unknown, 2016. “What’s Happening in Syria” —

Stanton, Gregory. 1996 “The 8 Stages of Genocide”

2 thoughts on “Blog Post 2, Syrian Crisis

  1. I can understand the U.N.’s concern with interfering with what’s going on I Syria because of its origins as a civil war. If the U.N. were to intervene it may give reason to argument for involvement in all civil war, which is supposed to be between citizens within the same country. While some may think this is a good thing, I think it is important for country’s to have the ability to handle issues on their own. This question becomes much harder however when the lives of many innocent people have been lost. Although the crisis in Syria did start as a civil strife it has very much become a religious one, displaying signs of Gregory Stanton’s eight stages of genocide, and therefore in my opinion deserves recognition and attention under the U.N.’s genocide laws. Because of the extent of the religious involvement in the groups intentions I do not think this situation could be used as an argument for involvement in other civil wars, unless those civil wars took a religious turn like the way the one in Syria did.

  2. The situation is very horrible, and I don’t know if the United Nations invading Syria would change anything. It started out as a civil war, so it makes the situation a bit more complicated. While the situations are different, I think many Americans are hesitant to engage in the Syrian civil war because our country has had a very rough history with becoming involved in the civil wars of other countries. The Korea war and Vietnam war resulted in many causalities, and the United States involvement in both wars is still debated as whether or not Americans actually helped these two countries.

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