July 10, 2015

TSG IntelBrief: Syria’s Endless Tragedy

• The now estimated 4 million Syrians who have fled the country due to the civil war represent not just a current humanitarian tragedy, but a long-term security and stability challenge

• The world is awash in conflicts with no end in sight and as a result, refugees who never get to return home; the aid programs of yesteryear are entirely inadequate to keep pace with the current tragedy

• In the geopolitical discussions about Syria’s future—with or without the Assad regime or the extremist rebels—little is said of the massive segment of the population that has been both internally and externally displaced.


The weekly and monthly coverage of the ongoing civil war in Syria has a back-and-forth rhythm to it. The rebels gain and then lose, and then gain and lose again. The record of the Assad regime has a similar monotony to it, with reports of advances and losses, all of which add up to unending violence. The one aspect of the Syrian conflict that does not vacillate between wins and losses is that of the Syrian people—the dead, the injured, and the displaced. For over four years, their story has been one of uninterrupted misery, lacking even superficial gains to offset their struggle.

The extent of the suffering was laid bare by the latest figures from the United Nations. According to the UN, 4 million Syrians have fled the country due to the fighting. Add to that the 7 million Syrians internally displaced, and a full half of the population has been forced from their homes. This is an unparalleled level of suffering in this era, but it is happening to three generations of Syrians, from grandparents to grandchildren, with the former losing their past and the latter losing their future. Four years of fighting have produced historic levels of suffering, yet no international resolve to end it.

In his second inaugural address towards the end of the U.S. Civil War, U.S. President Abraham Lincoln wrote: "At the expiration of four years, during which public declarations have been constantly called forth on every point and phase of the great contest which still absorbs the attention and engrosses the energies of the nation, little that is new could be presented." He added that no one "expected for the war the magnitude or the duration which it has already attained". The same can be said for the Syrian Civil War, in which there is even less occasion for "extended remarks".  From countering terrorism to basic human dignity, there is no more occasion for extended remarks. The Syrian War must be addressed.


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