Mr. al-Gharbi is an outreach scholar with the University of Arizona's Center for Mideast Studies, and a research fellow with the Southwest Initiative for the Study of Mideast Conflict (SISMEC). He is a former FLAS Fellow and graduate teaching assistant in the Philosophy Department at the University of Arizona.
The popular discourse on the Syrian conflict has largely taken for granted that Bashar al-Assad and his regime are unpopular in Syria, the revolution is widely supported domestically, the rebels are "winning" the war, and the fall of the regime is inevitable and imminent. To justify their interpretation of the conflict, opposition activists, Western policy makers and media outlets make frequent reference to a number of "facts," often statistical in nature. However, should we contextualize this data more rigorously, it becomes apparent that a radically different dynamic may be at work "on the ground" in Syria. This becomes important, as a more nuanced understanding of what is happening will have implications for what strategy the United States should pursue, particularly given our experience in Iraq.
60,000 Syrians Killed
One of the primary reasons offered for supporting regime change in Syria is the Assad regime's supposed "indiscriminate butchering" of its "own people." On January 2, 2012, the United Nations released its first comprehensive study,1 estimating that more than 60,000 lives have been lost in the Syrian conflict since March 2011.2 The obvious problem with this statistic is that, independently (as it is usually presented), it provides no differentiation of who has been killed in the conflict (How many are civilians, how many combatants, from which sect/ethnicity?) nor who killed them (Did they die at the hands of the regime, the rebels, or is it unclear?) nor how they died (Were their deaths accidental? Were they combatants? Were they victims of a massacre or other war crime?).
This information would not change how tragic the situation is, but it is important for understanding the dynamics of the conflict. The ambiguity, however, is convenient for the rebels as it helps obscure the extent to which these deaths are the results of rebel actions, especially in the cases of war crimes and civilian deaths. Moreover, it allows the entirety of the bloodshed to be laid at the feet of the regime. Finally, the larger the total number of dead are perceived to be, the more likely it is that the international community will be spurred into intervening. These factors may actually incentivize the rebels to increase their violent actions, in the hope of enticing the government to "react," thereby increasing civilian casualties (resulting in increased domestic and international support of their movement, as well as opposition to the regime). This is not unique to the situation in Syria; such methods have been used elsewhere, recently in Bosnia and Kosovo.3
While the casualty statistics are horrendous, the rate of killings in the Syrian civil war is less than that of the first three years of the Iraq invasion and civil war.4 In addition, faced with a similar uprising, the president's father and predecessor, Hafez al-Assad, killed nearly as many people in a single month as were killed in the first 18 months of the current conflict.5
In short, the rhetoric defining Bashar al-Assad as a bloodthirsty and indiscriminate killer obscures very important nuances about the dynamics of the conflict, such as who is being killed, by whom and by what means. Moreover, it interferes with evaluating the data in relation to other regional conflicts and civil wars. These effects are exacerbated by the way the number of "civilian" deaths is typically calculated.
Most Have Been Civilians
On the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR)'s Facebook site,6 they do differentiate casualties as noncombatants, rebels or soldiers and include rudimentary information on how some of them died (unsurprisingly, this information seems to be most available in instances where they can attribute deaths to the regime), but the media rarely utilize any of this data, to the extent that it is accurate. As has been argued by others,7 each side has the desire to "show only its own, amplify the numbers, and disregard the rest."
For instance, when it is stated that the majority of the victims of the conflict have been civilians, this number is achieved by conflating the dead non-military rebel fighters with noncombatants.8 While militiamen technically are civilians (simply by virtue of being non-military), the connotation of civilian is "non-combatant;" i.e., a victim of the conflict who was not actively taking part in it. In fact, this connotation is cynically exploited in delivering the statistic to people in order to make the regime seem as though they are "indiscriminately slaughtering their own people."
How should we determine how many of these "civilian" deaths are combatants v. non-combatants? As a heuristic device, we can assume that there have been at least as many civilian rebel fighters killed as there have been soldiers. This is likely a grave understatement of the civilian militia deaths; the ratio seems to be closer to 2:1, which is to be expected, given the stark differences in training and firepower between the tw sides. However, for the sake of argument, let us assume a 1:1 ratio. Even then, once we subtract the slain soldiers, rebel militiamen, and military defectors, we can see that actually non-combatants are a minority of the casualties in the conflict from SOHR's own dataset.9 Should we assume anything like a 2:1 ratio of militia deaths to soldier deaths, then the number of noncombatants killed would actually be just over 10,000, or approximately one quarter of the total dead.
The UN comprehensive study suggests that the overwhelming majority of the casualties were likely adult men,10 but a good many of the datasets were lacking critical details and could not clearly parse combatants from noncombatants.11 For a rough estimate, if we stick to the 2:1 ratio of militiamen to soldier deaths, even working from the assumption that the total number of deaths is in excess of 60,000 and assuming all of the additional casualties (relative to the SOHR dataset) were noncombatants, the majority of those killed in the conflict would still be combatants. Regarding noncombatant casualties, it is unlikely that all of these were killed by the regime, either. It would be astonishing to assume that there was no collateral damage from any rebel actions.
One would expect a number of friendly-fire and misfire incidents, as these untrained militiamen are taking hold of fairly powerful weapons and deploying them in fluid and urban environments. Moreover, scores of civilians have been killed in carbombs, suicide bombings and other terror incidents; there have been numerous reports of crimes committed against ethnic and religious minorities, many of which have been attributed to members of the opposition. Of these alone, we can see that a high number of the noncombatant casualties can be laid at the feet of the opposition, without considering the large amount of collateral damage that cannot principally be attributed to one side over another. 12
Ultimately, however, there are probably better numbers to attend to than the casualty statistics, in evaluating both the human cost of the war and the dynamics of the conflict. For instance, it is important to bear in mind the 733,196 registered Syrian refugees taking shelter in neighboring Jordan, Iraq, Turkey, Lebanon and North Africa; it is estimated that this number will soon exceed 1 million.13 This large influx of people is straining already sparse state resources, and the refugees themselves are coming increasingly into conflict with the authorities and local population of their host countries. This is causing Jordan and Turkey, which were formerly supporting the rebellion, to re-evaluate their strategic interests in the conflict.
Another important number to bear in mind is the 2.5 million internally displaced within Syria.14 The country's infrastructure has been decimated and the food-growing season has been severely interrupted.15 With winter setting in, and with food, fuel, medicine and other critical resources in extremely short supply, there is a growing humanitarian crisis within and around Syria. These pressures may turn a good deal of the neutral domestic population against the rebels, in order to draw an end to the conflict and restore order and functionality to the state.16
Beyond the numbers, if we want to evaluate the ethical dimensions of the conflict, we should not only deplore the (well-documented and oft-discussed) oppression and brutality of the Assad regime, but also the increasing incidences of war crimes and crimes against humanity perpetrated by the rebels. These include, but are not limited to, ethnoreligious cleansing/persecution, the recruitment and deployment of child soldiers, and torture. As these occurrences become more prevalent, the opposition will lose its moral force domestically, if not internationally. Moreover, the ubiquity of these events raises serious concerns about what sort of situation will follow the regime, should it be deposed, even in the case of a negotiated settlement.
Bashar Is Unpopular
In addition to the humanitarian arguments for intervention, there are appeals that the United States and other Western powers should support the overthrow of the Assad regime in an effort to promote democracy. Should the international community's intentions in Syria be democratic, a natural question should be, "What do the Syrian people want?" The popular discourse would suggest that Bashar is extremely unpopular within Syria, and that the overwhelming majority of Syrians want to see him deposed.
Of course, these claims are not based on polling data from within Syria. Instead, this impression is derived largely from the testimony of expatriates and rebel groups, both of which have vested interests in perpetuating this narrative. For their part, Western policy makers are notorious for relying far too heavily on the word of expatriates and refugees to determine public sentiment in a country; these groups will de facto tend to be fairly unrepresentative of the domestic population, as will many of their friends "back home" (we saw the disastrous consequences of this overreliance in the lead-up to the Iraq War). However, regardless as to whether we are evaluating the claims of expatriates, refugees or rebels inside Syria, it can be difficult to gauge public opinion if your sample is not representative of the broader population. In order to underscore the problems with this sort of testimony, let us begin with a brief thought experiment.
Imagine someone personally knows 2,000 Syrians who are actually living in Syria, not expatriates. And assume that this man has 49 friends, each of whom also knows 2,000 Syrians, with no overlap among their acquaintances, such that this man and his associates personally know 100,000 Syrians. Now assume that every single one of them is vehemently opposed to the regime — so that every single Syrian that this man knows, and every Syrian his associates know, all support regime-change in Syria. Would he be justified, then, in assuming that the opinions of this fairly large sample of 100,000 are representative of the broader population (the other 22,400,000 Syrians)? No.
Unless we also stipulate that the sample in question just happens to have been taken from all over the country and is comprised in a way that proportionally represents the ethnic, religious and economic diversity of the population, the most one could infer from a sample of 100,000 (or any random or unrepresentative sample) is that Bashar might be unpopular within Syria. Any inference beyond this would be unfounded, a base-rate fallacy. And the strength of even this (weaker) inference must be indexed to the absence of countervailing evidence. As it turns out, however, there is a good deal of evidence that would undermine the claim that Bashar al-Assad is universally reviled.
For instance, the last major scientific poll conducted in Syria was carried out by the Doha Debates (funded by the Qatar Foundation) in January 2012. In that poll, 55 percent of respondents indicated they wanted Bashar to remain in power. 17 As this poll was conducted by Qatar, we can be sure that those who carried it out had no interest in portraying the president in a positive light. In fact, they had a negative interest in this; Qatar has been among the primary supporters of the Syrian opposition. That is, in terms of both methodology and objectivity, we have reason to believe that the data are reliable. Moreover, the poll is commensurate with a number of other facts.
Consider the protests: they were typically small (150- 200, sometimes as many as 2,000 people). Moreover, the protesters were initially calling for an acceleration of Bashar's reforms, not for him to step down. Even as the protest movement grew, it never really took off in the population centers of Damascus and Aleppo. And throughout the period of demonstrations, there were large counterprotests in support of the president, often larger than those against him.18
Demographically, as has been widely reported, most ethnic and religious minority groups, as well as the Sunni bourgeoisie of Damascus and Aleppo, are not merely unsupportive of the rebels, they overwhelmingly support the regime. Additionally, the vast majority of the military continues to side with the state. From these groups alone, we would be approaching a plurality of the Syrian population who may actively support the president.
Ultimately, however, it is almost irrelevant what people think of Bashar al-Assad. What is far more important for the dynamics of the conflict is to understand how people feel about the rebels. After all, the regime is the default. If the population fails to support the rebellion at sufficient levels (barring international intervention to depose him or a coup from within the regime), Bashar will de facto remain in power as long as he chooses.
The Insurrection Represents Popular Will
We have seen that there are good reasons to suspect that Bashar al-Assad is more popular within Syria than he is typically portrayed. Does this imply that the rebellion is less popular? More important, how can we evaluate public support of the rebels? A natural place to start might be to consider their numbers. While higher estimates of the rebel forces indicate up to 140,000 fighters, the Pentagon has been making their plans on estimates of around 70,000. Recent intelligence reports indicate that the number may be closer to 30,000 (including foreign fighters).19 Recall that Syria is a country of more than 22.5 million.20 Accordingly, regardless of where in this range one places the rebel forces, the armed rebellion represents between .0013 and .0062 of the Syrian population.
One could then add the number of protesters to the number of armed rebels. There are some problems with this, however. First, as the protesters were initially calling for reforms rather than regime change, it is unclear how many of the former protesters support the movement as it has developed. Second, there is likely substantial overlap between the protesters and the armed insurrectionists; the more vehement from among the protesters probably took up arms. But even if we ignore these complications, the largest protest on record, according to opposition sources, was 100,000 people. Other than this, the protests were infrequent and small: typically less than 200, occasionally as large as 2,000. But even if, for the sake of argument, we add another 140,000 protesters to the previous range of rebel forces, the opposition movement still only represents between .0075 and .0124 of the total population. That is, even by the most generous estimates, barely 1 percent of the population is taking part in the protests or the armed struggle against the regime.
We can further stipulate that there are people who support the movement, but did not take part in either the protests or the armed insurrection. However, it is difficult to see how one could begin to assert that anything near a majority of the population supports the movement, especially in light of the overwhelming evidence to the contrary.
The simple fact is that the overwhelming majority of the country is ambivalent or opposed to the rebellion. The reason Bashar is still in power is that most of the country either supports him or does not support the opposition. Contrary to media reports, this is not a sectarian issue. While the opposition is disproportionately Sunni, we cannot infer from this that most Sunnis support the rebels: Sunnis represent 74 percent of the population. If most of them were behind the rebels, this conflict would already be over. Instead, whether one considers the numbers of Christians, Shiites, Alawites, Druze, Sunnis, Arabs, Kurds or Armenians and however one divides the population, the overwhelming majority are either siding with the regime, or are at least failing to support the rebellion.
Even among the rebel groups, the ostensible leadership of the opposition is unpopular. The leaders of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) exert virtually no control over the civilian brigades, who comprise the majority of the armed opposition. The initial political leadership of the opposition (the Syrian National Council) was so ineffective that it was abandoned by its geopolitical allies, who were really the only people to recognize them in the first place. The new Syrian National Coalition for Opposition and Revolutionary Forces has also been largely dismissed by rebel fighters and holds even less sway with the general population than it does with the armed groups.
However, even if we concede that the opposition may not represent the popular will, we have not yet answered the primary question: "What do the Syrian people want?" Consider this: in defiance of opposition calls for boycott (and attempts at voter suppression in rebel-held areas), 57 percent of the electorate turned out to vote in the February 2012 constitutional referendum, which was approved by a margin of 89 percent. In May 2012, 51 percent of the electorate turned out for parliamentary elections, which were held with UN observers in the country.21 In both cases, while Washington and the rebel groups dismissed the results as illegitimate, there was no evidence of fraud or other manipulation of the results. Moreover, these numbers comport well with the 55 percent of respondents who answered that they wished to see the regime stay in power. It is clear that most Syrians prefer piecemeal reforms over violent revolution, and they are more than willing to work with the regime, even Bashar al-Assad personally, towards these ends.
There are signs that the rebellion has already reached its peak force levels. Military defections have virtually ceased, and the rebels are having a hard time gaining new civilian recruits, as well.22 This trend has been partially reversed in light of the rebels' recent tactical successes. The rebel leader Salim Idris has said that the opposition is trying to build a coalition of 120,000 rebel forces for a "final" push in Damascus.23 Even if they are successful in achieving these force numbers, however, they would amount to a mere .0053 of the Syrian population (one-half of 1 percent). And if this force manages to be repelled, as was the assault on Damascus in early December,24 the rebels' popular momentum could be erased entirely.
In contrast to media portrayals that Bashar's fall is inevitable, a closer analysis reveals just why this conflict has been so protracted: the rebellion is unpopular.25 Were it not for foreign aid and foreign fighters, the uprising would not be able to sustain itself.
The Regime Controls Only 30 Percent
The rebels and their international supporters have attempted to exclude the regime from negotiations concerning the future of Syria, asserting that there can be no dialogue unless and until Bashar al-Assad is removed from power. This position seems tenable because it is believed that the collapse of the regime is imminent and inevitable (a claim that has been made for nearly two years now). As evidence for this conviction, they point to intelligence suggesting that the regime retains control over less than a third of the country.
Before beginning to analyze the content of this claim, we would do well to note the source: former Prime Minister Riyad Farid Hijab. He delivered these claims upon defecting to the opposition and taking refuge in Jordan.26 Given the incentives and pressures he would be facing to provide "inside information" that supports his new allies and undermines the regime, we may be concerned about the accuracy of his claims. But even if we accept them at face value, what do the numbers tell us?
If only 30 percent of Syria is being directly overseen/administered by the regime, this neither entails nor implies that the rebels control the other 70 percent. In fact, the rebels do not really administer any of Syria, as they do not have any organization, to speak of. Moreover, as we have previously explored, they do not have the manpower to dedicate forces to holding or overseeing large swaths of the country. Most of their forces are concentrated on the battlefronts, and they have not been able to hold these territories for very long in direct confrontation with regime forces.
What about the other 70 percent of the country, then? It is operating largely autonomously, community by community, with an increasing number of territories being taken over by unaffiliated warlords.27 While there certainly are some communities that are hostile to the regime and/or supportive of the rebels, this does not seem to be the norm; and the level of coordination between these sympathetic communities and the various rebel groups appears to be minimal. In fact, there is an increasing trend of community brigades preventing rebels from re-entering areas after the regime drives them out.28 This is because the rebels will draw the regime into confronting them in a given area, but they cannot actually stand up to the Syrian Army in direct combat. This is typical of the majority of civil wars, as the state is usually the stronger actor. Once the bombardment begins, the rebels flee, leaving the locals to bury the dead and pick up the pieces, in the meantime consuming scarce community resources and often committing crimes against the locals.29 As a result, large swaths of the country have decided that they have had enough; nothing good can come of hosting rebels in their area.
Accordingly, the rebel forces seem to have largely given up hope of taking and holding territory. Instead, they have been trying to goad the regime into conflict near the borders with Turkey and Israel, which are relatively safer and where they know the Syrian Army will risk retaliatory fire or even more drastic intervention if they make a misstep in pursuit of the rebels. Secondarily, they have begun raiding military depots in order to increase their own armaments while depriving the regime of these resources.30 Finally, they have escalated the conflict in and around Damascus, largely along ethnic and religious faultlines. 31
It remains to be seen how effective these tactics will be, but they seem to be more promising than attempting to gradually take over the country, which has proven largely unsuccessful.
Jihadists Are Only 10 Percent of Fighters
While it may be true, strictly speaking, that only 10 percent of the rebel fighters are from jihadist groups, this statistic belies the immense influence that this relatively small population has had on the trajectory of the conflict. Prior to the increased involvement of jihadists, the Syrian opposition was demoralized, on the defensive, and unable to deliver any significant blows against the regime.32 However, the Iraqi insurgent group Liwa al-Islam was responsible for the July 18, 2012, suicide bombing that killed a host of high-ranking regime officials, including Bashar's brother-in-law, Assef Shawkat.33 From there, the al-Nusra Front (an affiliate of al-Qaeda) spearheaded campaigns into Aleppo and Damascus in order to "take the fight to the regime." They have since claimed responsibility for a number of effective suicide bombings that killed scores of soldiers and some high-priority targets.34
Beyond reinvigorating the opposition, these groups have also had a marked influence on the rebels' tactics. Increasingly, rebel forces are deploying IEDs (indicative of the involvement of al-Qaeda in Iraq), as well as suicide and other bombings. Moreover, they are developing increasingly sophisticated guerrilla-warfare tactics. As an example, they have begun drawing the regime into conflict in heavily populated areas, hamstringing the regime's more powerful weapons or forcing the government to kill civilians and destroy critical infrastructure in pursuit of the rebels, thereby drawing others into the fight. Finally, the rebels have begun summarily executing large numbers of captured soldiers and government officials: this is a war crime, and a trend started by the al-Nusra Front (increasingly, these executions include beheadings).
Moreover, these jihadist groups are typically much better armed than the FSA, importing heavy weapons from the conflict zones of Libya and Iraq. This allows them to more directly confront the regime's helicopters, tanks and planes. So, while these groups may comprise a small part of the opposition, their impact has been immense; arguably, they are the most effective bloc of the opposition forces. And they will comprise an increasingly large share of the fighting forces going forward, as there has been a steep decline in new indigenous recruits but a steady stream of foreign fighters pouring into the country. Even among the local forces, many are joining jihadist organizations because they tend to be better funded, armed and organized than their secular or nationalist counterparts; moreover, they tend to be less corrupt.
However, even as they are having a positive impact on the rebels' effectiveness militarily, the jihadist groups severely undermine opposition efforts geopolitically to obtain international recognition, funding, arms or intervention. Many world powers are concerned that jihadist groups will attempt to establish a "shariah state" should the Assad regime fall, or that they may foster widespread ethnic and religious cleansing in the aftermath of the war, as has been the case in Iraq and Afghanistan. There are further concerns about terrorists getting their hands on Syria's chemical and biological weapons. And these are just concerns for within Syria.
Neighboring Israel is concerned that, should Bashar fall, they may be the next target of these jihadist fighters. Jordan is wary due to a recently foiled terror plot against Jordanian targets with weapons that were provided to the Syrian rebels. Turkey is facing increased terror attacks from the PKK as a result of the conflict.35 There are concerns that the sectarian conflict could spill into neighboring Lebanon and Iraq, especially following the Beirut car bombing that killed Wissam al-Hassan.36
In short, while jihadist groups represent a small share of the rebel population, they may be the single most influential segment of the opposition, militarily or geopolitically, for better or worse. Focusing primarily on the number of jihadists obscures their significance. As was the case in Libya, it is likely that the disproportionate influence of these jihadists will be retained even if the regime should fall, especially in the event of a disorderly collapse of the state.
Over the course of this analysis, we have seen that the regime may not be as "indiscriminate" as has been portrayed, nor are the rebels' methods more ethical than those of their adversary. It seems as though the regime may be more popular than is portrayed and that the opposition may not enjoy as much support or legitimacy from the general population. It is becoming increasingly obvious that the dynamics on the ground appear to favor the regime.37 Though continued support of the rebels may escalate and propagate the conflict, it seems unlikely that the opposition will prevail without direct foreign military intervention. Regarding one possible pretext for such an intervention, given the profound dissonance between the public discourse on the conflict and the actual dynamics that may be at work, we should also view with skepticism the recent "intelligence" reports that Bashar is preparing to use chemical weapons against the rebels, lest we repeat the mistakes of Iraq.38
In short, we do not have a clear picture of the "facts" on the ground; that, in turn, has skewed our presentation of the Syrian conflict in the media and public sphere. It seems unclear what the U.S. interests are in this conflict. Accordingly, it is unclear which course of action would best promote those interests. This begs the question: do we have enough information for the United States to make the large commitment of taking a side in this conflict and helping it win? It is unclear what will happen should the Assad regime fall, but it is likely that a heavy commitment of international peacekeepers would be required, possibly for a long time, to ensure some measure of order and security in the aftermath.
It is likely better for all parties to seek a negotiated settlement; but, given the regime's relative strength, it is unlikely that these negotiations can plausibly exclude them;39 even the rebels are beginning to realize this and have dropped their insistence that Bashar al-Assad step down as a precondition to negotiations.40 But even should the rebels somehow win the conflict and form a new government, given the presence of minorities as well as militarized groups in support of the regime, peace may prove elusive. If they are excluded, it is safe to predict a replay of the situation in Iraq. Eight years after President Bush declared victory, the fighting has not ceased but has instead expanded to include multiple domestic and regional actors and spread throughout the country. While most of the violence in Iraq is due to Sunni Arab resentment of the new system in place, it has been amplified by Sunni-Shiite sectarian fighting and increased violent competition among Shiite groups as well.41
Whichever course the international community commits itself to, it is important to gain as much clarity as possible about the situation on the ground. We seem to be approaching a moment when the international community must take decisive action in order to prevent Syria and the broader region from spiraling into an enduring cycle of sectarian hatred and radicalism with associated atrocities. Accordingly, policy makers must carefully consider the best outcome for the conflict and then build meaningful international consensus and commitment to actualize it. However, they must be careful not to lose sight of the will and interests of the Syrian people in the process. As Lakhdar Brahimi, the UN and Arab League representative, has maintained, "Change cannot be cosmetic.… There will be a new order but I do not know who will be in that order. That's for Syrians to decide." 42
1 Although often overlooked by readers, the "total casualties" statistic is usually prefaced with or followed by the phrase, "according to opposition activists." In particular, the source of this statistic is usually the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), an organization that is unabashedly anti-regime and pro-revolution. Even ignoring some of the methodological problems with how it collects its data, it is not an objective source. For a more balanced impression of the total casualties, one would be advised to weigh the Observatory's numbers against the numbers quoted by SANA, as well as more objective third parties, such as Human Rights Watch or the Red Crescent. The UN report underscores the incompleteness and unreliability of individual sources, and the importance of diverse sampling: the SOHR's final tally before the U.N. report was released estimated just over 46,000 deaths; the new 60,000 figure marks an increase of around 30 percent.
2 The report synthesizes six datasets from human rights groups with the Syrian government's dataset. The report covers the period from March 2011-November 2012 and identifies 59,648 unique deaths; given the likelihood that a number of deaths are unrecorded, and the casualties had been averaging nearly 5,000 per month since July 2012, it is safe to assume the total number of deaths to have been well above 60,000 by the time of the report's January 2, 2013, release. See Megan Price, Jeff Klingner, and Patrick Ball, "Preliminary Statistical Analysis of Documentation of Killings in the Syrian Arab Republic," Benetech, January 2, 2013, http://www.ohchr.org/Documents/Countries/SY/PreliminaryStatAnalysisKillingsInSyria.pdf.
3 Alan Kuperman, "The Moral Hazard of Humanitarian Intervention: Lessons from the Balkans," International Studies Quarterly 52 (2008): 59- 80.
4 James D. Fearon, "Iraq's Civil War: No Graceful Exit," Foreign Policy (March/April 2007).
5 Azmat Kahn, "On 30th Anniversary of Hama Massacre, Syrian Troops Lock Down City," PBS: Frontline, February 2, 2012, http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/foreign-affairs-defense/syria-undercover/on-30th-anniversary-of-hama-massacre-syrian-troops-lock-down-city/.
7 Hussein Agha and Robert Malley, "This Is Not a Revolution," New York Review of Books, November 8, 2012, http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2012/nov/08/not-revolution/?pagination=false.
8 "Syria Death Toll 'At Least 33,000,'" AFP, October 13, 2012, http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2012/nov/08/not-revolution/?pagination=false.
9 These calculations are drawn from SOHR's January 1, 2013, update, https://www.facebook.com/syriaohr/posts/315654925209519.
10 Price et alia, 9.
11 Dana El Baltaji and Caroline Alexander, "Syrian Death Toll Reaches 60,000, Says UN Rights Agency," Bloomberg, January 2, 2013, http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-01-02/syrian-death-toll-reaches-60-000-says-un-rights-agency.html.
12 Dashiell Bennett, "Are Syria's Rebels As Violent As Assad?" Atlantic, December 10, 2012, http://www.theatlanticwire.com/global/2012/12/are-syrias-rebels-violent-assad/59811/.
13 "Record Numbers of Syrian Refugees Flee As UN Warns of Critically-Low Funding," UNHCR, November 9, 2012, http://www.unhcr.org/509d68b59.html; Stephanie Nebehay, "UN Seeks $1.5 Billion to Help Suffering Syrians," Reuters, December 9, 2012, http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/12/19/us-syria-crisis-un-aid-idUSBRE8BI0MN20121219; and "Total Syrian Refugees Registered or Awaiting Registration," UNHCR, January 31, 2013, http://data.unhcr.org/syrianrefugees/regional.php.
14 "Syria Displaced Number 2.5m, Says Red Crescent," BBC, November 13, 2012, http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-20311194.
15 Michael Peel and Javier Blas, "Syria's Food Shortages Worsening, U.N. Says," Washington Post, January 23, 2013, http://articles.washingtonpost.com/2013-01-23/world/36498823_1_food-sho….
16 Zeina Khodr, "Stalemate Stokes Anger at Rebels in Aleppo," Al-Jazeera English, December 11, 2012, http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2012/12/20121211125010153551.html.
17 Jonathan Steele, "Most Syrians Back President Assad, But You'd Never Know from Western Media," Guardian, January 17, 2012, http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/jan/17/syrians-support-assad-western-propaganda.
18 Abagail Fielding-Smith, "Assad Supporters Throng Syria's Streets," Financial Times, March 15, 2012, http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/ceccb71e-6e9c-11e1-b98d-00144feab49a.html; and "Syria: What Motivates an Assad Supporter?" GlobalPost, June 24, 2011, http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/middle-east/110624/syria-protests-assad.
19 Joseph Holliday, "Middle East Security Report 3: Syria's Armed Opposition," Institute for the Study of War, March 2012, http://www.understandingwar.org/report/syrias-armed-opposition; "New W. Intelligence: Syrian Rebels Don't Have the Numbers to Win," DEBKAfile, October 15, 2012, http://www.debka.com/article/22440/New-W-intelligence-Syrian-rebels-don%E2%80%99t-have-the-numbers-to-win.
20 Source: CIA World FactBook.
21 "Things are never as simple as they seem: Working through misconceptions in the Syrian Uprising," SISMEC, July 28, 2012, http://www.sismec.org/2012/07/28/things-are-never-as-simple-as-they-see….
22 Kareem Fahim and Hwaida Saad, "Cajoling, Drugging and More as Rebels Try to Draw Defectors," New York Times, October 3, 2012, http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/04/world/middleeast/syria-rebels-press-harder-to-gain-more-fighters.html.
23 Associated Press, "New Syria Rebel Chief Says He's Forging a Force of 120,000 Men in Final Push against Assad," Washington Post, December 18, 2012, http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/middle_east/ap-interview-new-syrian-rebel-commander-very-afraid-regime-will-use-chemical-weapons/2012/12/19/17c8cff6-499a-11e2-8af9-9b50cb4605a7_story.html.
24 Nader Ezeddine, "Syrian Army May Have Set Damascus Trap for Rebels," Al-Monitor (translated from As-Safir), December 14, 2012, http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/security/01/12/syrian-army-changes-its-military.html.
25 Anne Barnard and Hwaida Saad, "Rebellion at Stalemate, Waiting for Undecided Syrians to Make a Move," New York Times, January 4, 2013, http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/05/world/middleeast/undecided-syrians-co….
26 "Syria Ex-Premier Says Assad Controls Only 30 Percent of Country," Los Angeles Times, August 15, 2012, http://articles.latimes.com/2012/aug/15/world/la-fg-syria-fighting-20120815.
27 Kareem Fahim and Hwaida Saad, "Envoy to Syria Warns of Slide to Hellish Fiefs with Huge Toll," New York Times, December 30, 2012, http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/31/world/middleeast/syria.html?_r=0.
28 Mohammad Ballout, "Civilian Brigades Are Helping Syrian Army Control Territory," Al-Monitor (translated from As-Safir), October 15, 2012, http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/politics/2012/10/the-civilian-committees-helping-to-keep-the-syrian-army-fighting.html.
29 Ghaith Abdul-Ahad, "Syrian Rebels Sidetracked by Scramble for Spoils of War," Guardian, December 12, 2012, http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/dec/27/syrian-rebels-scramble-spoils-war.
30 Julian Borger, "Syria Rebels' Arms Supplies and Finances Drying Up Despite Western Pledges," Guardian, January 4, 2013, http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/jan/04/syria-rebels-arms-drying-up.
31 Patrick J. McDonnell, "Syria Rebels Appear to be Shifting Strategy in Damascus," Los Angeles Times, November 7, 2012, http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-syria-damascus-20121108,0,618701.story.
32 Ed Husain, "Al-Qaeda's Specter in Syria," Council on Foreign Relations, August 8, 2012, http://www.cfr.org/syria/al-qaedas-specter-syria/p28782.
33 "Terrorist Organization Profile: Banner of Islam," START, November 2, 2012, http://www.start.umd.edu/start/data_collections/tops/terrorist_organization_profile.asp?id=4695; Sami Nakhoul, and "Damascus Bomber Was Bodyguard for Assad's Inner Circle: Syrian Security Source," Reuters, July 18, 2012, http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/07/18/us-syria-crisis-bomber-idUSBRE86H0G620120718; "Damascus Blast 'Kills' Top Assad Officials," Al-Jazeera English, July 19, 2012, http://www.aljazeera.com/news/middleeast/2012/07/20127189355415804.html.
34 Sahar Ghoussoub, "Al-Qaeda Affiliate Claims Responsibility for Aleppo Blasts," Al-Monitor (translated from As-Safir), October 4, 2012, http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/politics/2012/10/activists-say-al-qaeda-groups-behind-aleppo-bombing-growing-in-influence.html; and Tim Arango, Anne Barnard, and Hwaida Saad, "Syrian Rebels Tied to al-Qaeda Play a Key Role in the War." New York Times, December 8, 2012, http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/09/world/middleeast/syrian-rebels-tied-to-al-qaeda-play-key-role-in-war.html?pagewanted=all.
35 Denise Natali, "Islamists in Syria Empowering PKK," Al-Monitor, January 31, 2013, http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2013/01/islamists-syria-jabha….
36 However, it would be easy to overstate the immediate significance of these international concerns. Because they are more insulated from the direct effects of the conflict, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, the primary supporters/funders/suppliers of the opposition, can afford to perpetuate the civil war despite the cost to Syria and its neighbors, and they have a number of incentives for doing so. Accordingly, they will need to be brought into compliance before there can be any hope of a viable negotiated settlement.
37 Ali Hashem, "Assad's Final Days More Hope Than Reality," Al-Monitor, January 31, 2013, http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2013/01/bashar-al-assad-2014-…; and Simon Tisdall, "Syria: Why Assad May Yet Claim Victory," Guardian, January 7, 2013, http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/jan/07/reality-syria-inter….
38 Jim Miklaszewski and M. Alex Johnson, "Syria Loads Chemical Weapons into Bombs; Military Awaits Assad's Orders," NBC, December 5, 2012, http://worldnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2012/12/05/15706380-syria-loads-chemical-weapons-into-bombs-military-awaits-assads-order?lite; "William Hague Confirms 'Evidence' of Syrian Chemical Weapons," Guardian, December 8, 2012, http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/dec/08/syria-william-hague-chemical-weapons?fb=optOut; and "Former Powell Adviser 'Skeptical' of 'Politicized' U.S. Intelligence on Syria," RT, December 8, 2012, http://rt.com/news/syria-chemical-weapons-us-intelligence-574/.
39 "The Endgame in Syria," Al-Monitor: The Week in Review, December 9, 2012, http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2012/al-monitor/syria-endgame.html.
40 Mohammad Ballout, "Syrian Opposition Figures Call For Dialogue With Regime," Al-Monitor (translated from As-Safir), January 31, 2013, http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/politics/2013/01/syrian-opposition-dial….
41 Kenneth Katzman, "Iraq: Post-Saddam Governance and Security," Congressional Research Service, June 8, 2009, http://books.google.com/books?id=NtJ163gwKHIC&printsec=frontcover#v=onepage&q&f=false.
42 Lyse Doucet, "Brahimi Has 'No Illusions' about 'Toughest Yet' Syria Mission," BBC, September 3, 2012, http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-19467160.
Middle East Policy is fully accessible through the Wiley Online Library
Click below to subscribe to the online or print edition of Middle East Policy and gain access to all journal content.