NO ONE CAN WIN IN SYRIA – SO WHY ARE WE TRYING?

By Josh Wilson

I am going to be honest, I have no idea exactly is happening is Syria. Now is when I should stop writing an article about the Syrian War right? Of course, that doesn’t seem to stop everyone else from having an opinion, so I’m going to have a punt.

The Syrian ‘Civil’ War, that seems like it is now as international as the Cold War, has raged for more than 4 long years. The death and displacement it has caused is the most severe in recent history. There are so many players and interests that anyone that says they have a solution that is fool proof is lying to you. With Assad, a plethora of anti-government rebel groups, ISIS all backed by various outside sources, notably the US and Russia as well as other regional powers. The thought that any one of these groups can ultimately win and create lasting peace in the country seems like a fanciful claim to me.

This is why the idea that the UK joining in to chuck more bombs on a country that has already seen thousands of bombs dropped in the past four and a half years is a completely farcical proposition. What would classify as winning? Killing every current and future member of ISIS? Destroying all aspects of Assad’s state apparatus? Putting one of the various anti-government groups into power and hold elections in a couple of years? It seems far more likely that we will add to the death toll, destroy more homes and make very little impact on the war apart from possibly extending it. I am no expert, I have never been to Syria, but I do know that wars rarely end in obvious and complete victories, and the only way to truly end war is outright victory or the more likely option of diplomacy.

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But surely ISIS cannot be negotiated with? They are terrorists! Now I am never going to justify or legitimise violent acts or murder, I do not believe ISIS can be let off for the actions they are documented as perpetrating. But the term terrorist is consistently used to dehumanise a group. It makes us think of them as people that can only be defined as evil, a group that deserves nothing but to be killed, they are portrayed as too bad to ever be involved in legitimate negotiations. But these are groups of complex individuals that have things that drive them to do what they do and don’t all believe the exact same things. That isn’t a fact of ISIS or terrorist groups but all groups of human beings.

The IRA was once thought of as nothing but terrorists that
could not be negotiated with, but of course the end
to the Troubles came about through diplomacy.

The IRA was once thought of as nothing but terrorists that could not be negotiated with, but of course the end to the Troubles came about through diplomacy. Now that is not to say the IRA and ISIS have very much in common, but they both have been branded as terrorist organisations in seemingly unending conflict. I know this isn’t as easy as getting people together to hold hands and peace will suddenly follow. But we need to stop branding entire groups in simplistic terms of hate and evil, we need to remember that everything and everyone is complex, including ISIS.

So as MPs are due to vote on whether to bomb Syria, we need to look at other options. I am not going to pretend to have all the answers but the one thing that seems obvious is further escalation of the conflict is not going to end the tragedy and death that haunts every single Syrian citizen.

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