Subject: History
Language: English (U.S.)
Pages: 3
For this assignment you should look for a news story (either online or in a newspaper) that relates to the topics we discussed in class (for example, deterrence, credible commitments, tying hands, and ways to end conflicts, such as raising the costs of war, having another country or organization enforce an agreement that ends a war). Review the textbook and review the slides I used in class, which are available on the course website in the left hand column under the heading PPT Slides

Ways to End Conflict

More than 500,000 people die each year because of violent conflict and the number of dead victims has continued to increase dramatically during the Syrian conflict. Conflict has baffle scientists, philosophers, and politicians for millennia because it is often difficult to understand the true origins and nature of the conflict. It is even harder to bring conflicts under control to stop the killings of innocent victims caught in the crossfire between warring factions.

A lot of research has gone into identifying the various ways to end conflicts in different regions in the world. As of now, there is no known antidote for conflict resolution as the styles of war continue to change and adapt with the times. Conflicts have moved from being fought by armies of different nations. The current conflict scenario involves non-state armed militia who kill civilians on a massive scale as a form of attack on that nation’s government. 

In addition, reports suggest that some wars are no longer fought in order to be won. They are a way for armed militia to make money at the expense of the civilians. Some rebel fighters might even be reluctant to return to their homes because they are afraid of being rejected by their communities for the atrocities they caused during the war. 

In lieu of this information, it is imperative that we find ways to end conflict for the sake of the lives of millions of women and children who are exposed to conflict each day. Some of the proposals that have been made to end the Syrian war range from the mundane to the completely absurd. However, it is important to analyze the cost-benefits of each solution to determine which one will be the most effective in bringing about a cease-fire in the war torn country. 

According to Walsh (2015), there are five obvious ways to end the Syrian conflict. However, these ways are either impractical or would further exacerbate the problem if implemented. The first option would be to arm the Syrian opposition appropriately so that it has enough resources to depose the Assad regime through military force. The conflict in Syria began as protests against the Assad regime and it is only sensible to remove the root cause of the problem: Assad. Furthermore, Assad’s regime used chemical weapons against the people, which is an international crime. However, removing Assad would put the lives of the millions of civilians living in government strongholds in jeopardy. These strongholds include Latakia, Damascus, and Tartus. At the very least, arming the Syrian opposition would lead to a massacre.

Another option is to create a no fly-zone, safe-area in the country’s Northern region, an idea that Turkey and the Syrian opposition have tried to implement in vain. The opposition hoped that such an arrangement would stop Assad’s indiscriminate bombing of the northern part of Syria. The problem lies with the fact that several opposition groups have become too aligned with al Qaeda, and ISIL.

The Western powers could also back Assad, understanding that he is unavoidable in bringing some parts of Syria back together. Russia and Iran support this option because they have their own geopolitical interests at heart. However, this option does not address the fundamental cause of the conflict, which is Assad, and the fact that he used chemical warfare on his own people. If Assad is not removed, the rebel groups in the North will continue to fight and there is no way of convincing Russia, China, and Iran to stop backing Assad in the near future. Forcefully removing Assad will only attract the ire of Russia and her allies making the whole scenario worse for Syrian civilians. 

There is also the option of splitting the nation into four different factions and hoping that the fighting will eventually cease. The idea here is to split the country into four distinct regions each with their own boundaries and rulers. These regions will be split amongst the Kurds, ISIS, ‘moderate’ rebel groups, and Assad’s regime. The problem with this option is that the warring factions have refused to sit down and negotiate a peace talk, let alone agree on setting geographic boundaries for the regions that they control. They have all sworn to fight each other to the death, therefore, setting up boundaries would not be an amicable solution. Furthermore, there is no external military force that is ready to establish these new boundaries. 

The last option to end the conflict is to keep the focus on the destruction of ISIS, while leaving the Syrian opposition to depose the Assad regime. Drone strikes against ISIS works for America but it does not stop the enigma of refugees flooding into Europe. The dramatic increase in the number of refugees entering into Europe has seen the rise of jihadists gaining access to America and causing havoc in the nation. 

These options seemed plausible back in 2012, but now the conflict has increased in complexity. The warring factions are gaining support from external forces, both local and Western, further complicating an already fragile situation. For most experts on the subject, the Syrian conflict is a proxy war between America and Russia, as well as a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and her allies in the region against Iran and her allies in the same region. The ‘problem from hell’ does not seem to have an end unless the true orchestrators of the war decide to put a punitive end to the conflict. 


Walsh N.P. (2015 Sept 15). How can the war in Syria be stopped? CNN. Retrieved on 13/2/2016 from