Neither Can Live While the Other Survives: How the Representation of the Syrian Conflict Neglects the Citizen

By Jessica C. Tselepy
2015, Vol. 7 No. 10 | pg. 1/1

Headlines are littered with the rhetoric of the powerful. The most present modern crises can ostensibly be reduced to deconstructed, decontextualized and digestible echoes of our world leaders. The Syrian case is not disqualified from this reductionist tendency, and readers worldwide pay the cost.

"If you are to pick a side, know why."

Syrian street

Photo: Marc Veraart ND-2

What may the average citizen deduce from the ISIL/ISIS/IS/Daesh situation at present? has a military force on the rise in Syria that looms most directly over the United States’ peace of mind. What could Putin’s motives be? Simply Google ‘Syria’ and you will find ample news articles to whet a plethora of possibilities, ranging from defensive to downright sinister.

And what source are these news outlets using to spin and cultivate popular opinion? The opinions of officials from the two nations themselves.

The of heads of state and government officials is indisputable. The many faults of overreliance on the ‘demi-Gods’ of modern world politics could be listed and detailed with great delight, yet an ignorance of ‘real-world’ psychology would be remiss in the context. The major hazard to highlight, and add to the jumble of opinions already distributed, is this: a blind acceptance of a narrative provided by the two leading competitors for the prize of… (peace?) in Syria leads one down a dangerous path that bolsters a bellicose Waltzian ‘balance of power’ attitude and neglects the voice of the people.

Regardless of your preference for theory, or which side of the line you stand on, we cannot let our conception of modern be dictated solely by those great powers who are detached from the context of the conflict.

Regardless of your preference for theory, or which side of the line/fence/spectrum you stand on, we cannot let our conception of modern conflict be dictated solely by those great powers who are detached from the context of the conflict. I see at least two reasons for this.

Firstly, motives and incentives will always be present. Given the multifaceted nature of humanity, there is a constant potential for them to be conflicting. Our preference for categorizing complex circumstances into an ever disputing ‘two-party preferred’ (TPP) system (if you will) in all areas of life is palpable: politics, sports, superheroes and their nemeses. We are finely attuned to pick and choose, to ‘join a side’, and feel comforted in the sureness of our sense of place in this new understanding.

The problem with this subconscious status quo is that we are less likely to inquire as to how those two sides came to be where they are, and why they are the most appropriate proponents for the cause they allegedly fight for.

Secondly, in the Syrian case, the Russian/United States dichotomy is simply not reflective of the greater complexity of power imbalances within the country and region more widely. Within Syria, the multitude of citizen-run forms of established in response to the failure of state institutions flies directly in the face of these two ‘great’ powers’ external attempts.

With Russia standing firm on their support of the Assad regime, and the United States likewise defending their entrenched stronghold on fighting wherever it lies, I question where there is room for consideration of the citizen. The existing power of local councils (for instance, Zabadani 2011) and Sharia Courts (with leaders range from local armed factions to ISIS Jihadist groups) cannot be ignored. And it is continuously being so.

This shallow consideration of the context plagues the headlines and propagates a facile belief in domineering great powers as the ‘be all and end all’ saviors of world conflict.

What to do?

Read beyond the archaic dichotomous representation of international conflict, daring to create your own mind on the matter.

And if you are to pick a side, know why.


Recommended Reading

Suggested Reading from Inquiries Journal

In March 2011 peaceful protests over the arrest and torture of young Syrians, themselves having drawn slogans refering to the revolutions in Egypt and Tunisia on walls in Syria’s Daraa, led to the killing of six civilians by Syrian police. The protests quickly spread, while the government response grew increasingly cruel.... MORE»
Advertisement
The civil war in Syria has taken an enormous toll on civilian populations. One of the most commonly overlooked aspect of this crisis is the impact on healthcare in the region. Syria’s health capacity has been ravaged by years of government bombings and Islamic State expansion. As the Islamic State (IS) continues to consolidate... MORE»
In public discourse, Africa and the Middle East have become synonymous with ethnic and religious conflict, whereas Europe is known as a bastion of peace and stability. But are areas known for their ‘high conflict’ truly more susceptible to regional conflict compared to the more 'peaceful' regions? Our findings indicate... MORE»
Wael Ghonim, a 30-year-old Egyptian who works as an executive for Google, enjoyed a house in the United Arab Emirates with a pool and a nice car. But when news of the Egyptian protests reached him in January 2011, he anonymously... MORE»
Submit to Inquiries Journal, Get a Decision in 10-Days

Inquiries Journal provides undergraduate and graduate students around the world a platform for the wide dissemination of academic work over a range of core disciplines.

Representing the work of students from hundreds of institutions around the globe, Inquiries Journal's large database of academic articles is completely free. Learn more | Blog | Submit

Follow SP

comments powered by Disqus

Latest in Political Science

2016, Vol. 2016 No. 2
This paper evaluates the ethical dilemma coalition forces had to face when deciding to target and take out ISIL's primary source of revenue – oil. By gathering the impacts ISIL has had on the globe as well as the impacts aerial attacks could... Read Article »
2014, Vol. 2014 No. 1
In spite of the long-standing debate among economists on the optimal level of government involvement in economic development, little has been said on an optimal level of involvement by non-governmental "Civil Society" Organizations (CSOs). In particular... Read Article »
2017, Vol. 9 No. 01
Argentina’s economic policies under Nestor Kirchner and Cristina Fernández de Kirchner were hugely impactful in the country’s recovery and general development, yet the Kirchner administrations are often painted with the same broad... Read Article »
2016, Vol. 8 No. 11
In the early 1990s, two terrorist organizations, Hamas and the Fatah-led Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), were using terrorism to promote their political plight of Palestinian self-determination. Although both organizations vowed to use... Read Article »
2013, Vol. 7 No. 1
In Greece's parliamentary elections of June 2012, a far-right neo-fascist party called Golden Dawn gained eighteen seats, making them the third most popular political party in parliament. An opinion poll published in October by KAPA Research Center... Read Article »
2013, Vol. 7 No. 1
Why did Sierra Leone experience such a protracted civil war between 1991 and 2002? Sierra Leone has been beset with challenges since achieving independence from Britain in 1961, in particular its brutal civil war that resulted in tens of thousands... Read Article »
2016, Vol. 8 No. 10
This article explores the nature of Canada’s political system as an evolving consequence of its roots in classical liberal thinking coupled with the self-protecting instincts of a variety of elite interest groups. In performing this exploration... Read Article »

What are you looking for?

FROM OUR BLOG

How to Read for Grad School
5 Tips for Publishing Your First Academic Article