The Syrian Civil War began in 2011 but turmoil has been running deeps for many years. The Assad Regime came to power in the late 1960’s. At first, the Assad Regime was beloved by the people because it brought stability to the country of Syria, something the country had lacked since they gained independence in 1947. That stability would later come with a twist. In 2000, Hafez al-Assad would pass away and his son, Bashar, would take over as the head of the country. Many citizens would start to become displeased with the government and would protest over issues like high unemployment, ethnic oppression, corruption, and lack of political freedom. Bashar al Assad would fight back at these protests with violent force with the use of many things like chemical weapons. Due to Assad’s violence, nearly 400,000 people have been killed, 9,000 of them being children, and many of Syria’s major cities, like Aleppo, have been flattened. Many rebel groups, who are backed by the citizens of Syria and other nations around the world, have risen causing a war between the Syrian Government and the rebel groups. But, not all aspects of this war has been with force, many countries and international institutions have played major roles in the war with things such as sanctions on Syria and aid to rebel forces.
The liberal perspective analyzes an event and explains cooperation and world order. For the Syrian Civil War, it views the causes in how states interact with one another through things such as negotiations, International Institutions, and International Law. The liberal perspective also focuses on absolute gains which is how much a state has now compared to what it had before.
The systemic level of analysis is the broadest level of analysis. This level of analysis talks primarily about how states interact with one another. There are two types of relationships at the systemic level; process and structure. Process is the interactions among states and structure is the relative positions of states. Mainly, this level of analysis predicts the systemic outcome and focuses on why wars occur.
Three world superpowers have played a major role in the Syrian Civil War. One of these superpowers is China. China plays a major role when it comes to the United Nations and sanctions that get placed on Syria. This is mainly due to the fact that China is one of five countries that are on the security council and has veto power on all things brought before the council. Another superpower is Russia. Like China, Russia also has veto power in the security council. Russia also has grown extremely strong ties with the Assad Regime and the Syrian government. Russia has been playing a role in funding areas of the Syrian military and providing them with weapons as well as funding the terrorist organization Hezbollah (Shukla, pg. 443). The U.S also plays a role in the Civil War but it is not as substantial as Russia. The main activity the U.S has is they support and the rebel group in Syria that is trying to overthrow the Assad Regime. The United States has also placed harsh economic sanctions on Syria in hopes of weakening the Syrian military and the Assad regime. In August of 2011, after continued violence by Assad on civilians, the U.S issued Executive Order 13582, which “… prohibits the exportation or sale of services to Syria by U.S. persons, prohibits the importation of petroleum or petroleum products of Syrian origin, and prohibits U.S. persons from involvement in transactions involving Syrian petroleum or petroleum products (U.S Department of State).” These sanctions were set in place in order to damage the Syria economy in hopes of getting Assad to stop his violent oppression. With all of these actions going on, especially the ones by China and Russia, the Syrian government continues to get a steady flow of arms and funding which continues to fuel their war efforts, further causing the civil war.
Many International Institutions have played major roles in the causes of the Civil War as well. One of these institutions is the European Union. The European Union has placed numerous sanctions on Syria and the Syrian government dating back to 2011 with the most recent one being in May of 2017. On May 9th, 2011, the European Union placed their first sanctions on Syria. This set of sanctions prohibited the sale, supply, and transfer of all arms and any related materials (Battu, 2017). Most recently, in May of 2017, the European Union extended its sanctions to continue until June of 2018. These sanctions include an “oil embargo, restrictions on certain investments, a freeze of the assets of the Syrian central bank within the EU and export restrictions on equipment and technology that might be used for internal repression, as well as on equipment and technology for monitoring or interception of internet or telephone communications (Battu, 2017).” Not only has the European Union placed sanctions on the Assad regime but they have also played a large role in aiding the humanitarian effort for the Syrian citizens who have been oppressed by the Assad Regime. The sanctions the European Union put in place seriously damage the Syrian economy in hopes of getting Bashar al Assad to end the oppression.
Another International Institution that has placed sanctions on Syria and the Assad Regime is the Arab League. The Arab League is an association of all countries in the Middle East as well as eight countries in Northern Africa, who primarily speak Arabic and where it is the official language. The ultimate goal of the Arab League is to “strengthen ties among member states, coordinate their policies and direct them towards a common good (BBC News, 2017).” In November of 2011, around the time of the beginning of the uprisings, the Arab League suspended Syria from the association, due to the continued civilian oppression. Later that same month, the Arab League passed sanctions on Syria that included an arms embargo as well as numerous funding sanctions, such as, suspending dealings with the central bank of Syria (Bakri, 2011). Like the sanctions set in place by the European Union, all of these sanctions drastically damage the economy hurting the government funding, and they show that everyone in the Middle East is ready for Assad era to conclude.
Along with the Arab League, you also have the Middle East group known as Friends of Syria. Friends of Syria is a group formed by “more than a hundred government delegates, including from the US, France, Britain and the Gulf countries (Al Jazeera, 2012).” The group was mainly created to “recognize the opposition coalition (rebels) as ‘the legitimate representative of the Syrian people’. It also called on President Assad to ‘stand aside’ in order to allow ‘a sustainable political transition’ process (Al Jazeera, 2012).” One of the coalitions most recent actions was the approval of 100 million dollars to rebels to support their fight against Assad (Bhardwaj, 2012). The Friends of Syria coalition is extremely dangerous to the Assad regime because of their backing by world superpowers as well as because the Syrian government is constantly losing assets due to the harsh sanctions set in place against them.
The Syrian Civil War, which started in 2011, is far from just a war between two groups, it’s an international ordeal. Russia and China continue to support Syria through the oppression blocking anything that the United Nations attempts to put in place. Russia also supplies the Syrian military with numerous arms which to fuel the Syrian side of the war. The U.S harsh sanctions on Syria weaken their economy and the government. Similarly, some International Institutions, like the European Union and the Arab League have placed sanctions on Syria, weakening them even more. The Friends of Syria coalition members, like the United States and other Arab nations have donated around 100 million dollars to the rebels to help fight Assad’s military. This war has been drawn out for a long time, with world powers on both sides, and there is still no end in sight.