Civil War vs. Non-Violent Resistance in Syria

John Glaser, February 20, 2012

While U.S. officials continue to publicly advocate arming and aiding the armed groups in Syria, others say the opposition’s turn to violence has stymied a revolution and strengthened the Assad regime. Hugo Dixon from Reuters:

The Assad regime probably likes the fact that the opposition has embraced armed struggle. This solidifies its support among its core constituency – the Alawites, who represent about 10 percent of the population – as well as other minorities such as Christians. The regime can argue it has to hit back hard, otherwise it will be massacred. What’s more, it has seen brutality work in the past. Assad’s father survived a rebellion in Hama 30 years ago after killing around 20,000 people.

Non-violent struggle has roughly twice the chance of bringing down dictators as armed struggle, according to a study of 20th and early 21st Century conflicts, Why Civil Resistance Works, by Erica Chenoweth and Maria Stephan. Among the many reasons for this, those close to the regime feel less threatened by non-violent tactics and so are more likely to shift their allegiance while it is easier to involve millions of people in Gandhian style civil disobedience than in military operations.

While a U.S. military intervention would be an utter disaster, few doubt that the U.S. war machine would make short shrift of the Assad regime. That kind of war seems improbable at least at the moment, but Washington is instead pushing for arming the rebels in a proxy war. This, according to the above-cited research, is much less likely to oust Assad and much more likely to kill loads more people.

3 Responses to “Civil War vs. Non-Violent Resistance in Syria”

  1. Mr. john I would like to invite you to Syria to see the truth I am a liberate woman ,I would like to tell you tthat Syria is facing now a war on the people ,not on the regim because all the sanctions affecting us ,I would like to tell you that the army is defending us, they face many armed people ,most of them are terorrists or theives, you cannot know the truth from the foreign media because most of of them are false, I am speaking in the name of thousands of women in Syria ,and if you want to know anything about Syria just ask me ,I will be happy to tell you the truth.

  2. The Americans won't dirty their hands in Syria, not directly that is, because the Syrian military is far larger, better organized, and more dispersed than the usual clay pigeons it shoots around the globe. Gaddafi was a pushover compared to anything in Syria so they're taking the easy road by using proxies to die for them. Now if only the Russians would accept an "invitation" to restore order in their client state, not much different than Uncle Sams usual excuses for belligerence, then the Americans, Saudis, and Israelis would have to shut the hell up. Quite possibly short circuiting any attempt at attacking Iran. It wouldn't necessarily bring about peace overnight but it would put a pause to the West and their ever ratcheting madness.

  3. Article is spot on. As I write, exactly what the author described is happening. State Dept head Clinton–the great purloiner of foreign representatives’ DNA and IDs–is vigorously denouncing China and Russia for their failures to support Arab League resolution in the UN…while she meets with the Saudis, who like the idea of arming the Syrian opposition. Q: Where do the Saudis get their weapons from?