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Military Intervention in Syria: The Only Option?

This week has been one of the deadliest in the uprising across Syria since protests began against the rule of President Bashar al-Assad.

The incessant shelling of civilian areas has provided the latest chapter in the increasingly protracted and bloody saga of the Arab spring.

Attempts by the disparate anti-government forces to bring to an end the nigh-on 40-year rule of the al-Assad family have been met with brutal suppression by the state military.

The Syrian civilian death toll is now estimated to be around 5,000.

When comparing Syria to other countries wrapped up in popular uprisings across the Arab world it is clear there are haunting echoes of Libya: an intractable regime unleashing the full force of military power against rebel areas with no heed for human rights or international pressure.

Although an Arab League-sponsored conference is being held this weekend to help foster a peace accord, there are still roadblocks to a diplomatic solution.

Foremost among these is an inability to secure a UN Security Council resolution designed to bring about political reform in Syria, given how Syrian allies Russia and China, both with strong economic ties to the country, used their veto to block the move.

But is military intervention the only viable solution?

Not necessarily. A military strike against Syrian army positions would come up against powerful opposition from al-Assad’s allies. Colonel Gaddafi did not have friends in such high places. And it is not entirely clear what a post-Assad Syria would look like.

There is not a cohesive opposition movement in Syria. Instead there are numerous dissident groups and militia movements.

But with intervention looking improbable the breaches of human rights continue. We must hope this latest round of diplomacy is more successful at bringing this authoritarian blood-letting to an end.

This article by Dr Andrew Mumford, a Lecturer in Politics and International Relations, originally appeared in local media in Nottingham.

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