Posted by on January 23, 2012 in Blog

Though large-scale protests did not erupt in Syria until the March 15 uprising in Daraa, January 26 will be the one-year anniversary of the first Syrian demonstration. The mass movement to oust Syrian president Bashar Al-Assad has been fraught with complications, but despite an unimaginably brutal response by the Syrian government, the protests continue unabated.

The lingering stalemate between anti-Assad demonstrators and government security forces – a conflict which has devolved into armed violence on both sides in recent months – has led an increasing number of people in Syria and abroad to call for Western military intervention to halt the violence and bloodshed.

Burhan Ghalyioun, a longtime human rights activist and ostensible leader of the Syrian National Council, has inched ever-closer to an endorsement of military action against the Syrian state, including the implementation of a Libya-style no-fly-zone enforced by NATO air power. Last week, Ghalyioun traveled to Cairo in an attempt to persuade Arab League officials to turn over their observer mission in Syria to the United Nations Security Council.

Despite the increasing popularity of Western involvement, many remain skeptical that foreign military intervention would be beneficial to the Syrian people in the long term, citing the continued instability in Libya, and record-low approval ratings of the U.S. in the Arab world. Bassam Haddad, director of the Middle East Studies Program at George Mason University and founder of the popular website Jadaliyya, writes that “Any external military intervention …will devastate Syria because of a host of intended and unintended consequences. It will exponentially increase the death toll of Syrians in absolute and relative terms without achieving any discernable [sic] conclusive outcome.”

With or without foreign intervention, it appears likely that the conflict will continue unabated for some time. The escalating violence has already begun to affect both regional stability, and the safety of Syrian citizens abroad, many of whom have become targets of Syrian government forces upon their return.

In response to the expected perpetuation of the conflict, the Arab American Institute in December submitted a formal request to the Obama administration to grant Temporary Protected Status to Syrians currently residing in the U.S., to ensure that they are not forced to return home until the situation improves. 

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