Last Thursday Assad's government agreed to a UN-backed ceasefire with the rebellion. Given that the future of the country is on the balance and the world's most powerful political alliance is watching closely, the Syrian government has taken the situation seriously -and to prove that seriousness they have not changed their strategy at all: Homs is still under siege and civilians are being killed all over Syria. Since this -apparently allegorical- ceasefire was put into effect, 40 people have died -adding up to the more than 13,000 dead since March 2011.
In this uprising the public debate seems to focus on what -if anything at all- should be done. In other words: should the UN intervene? The left-wing says no: the proverb claims that "the enemy of my enemy is my friend" and, since so many postmodernist liberals gloat over their hypocritical self-hate, that means that if the East hates the West the Syrian government is our friend. The right-wing says yes because even scavengers need fresh meat once in a while.
The concept of interventionism is not inherently wicked, particularly if national sovereignty is ignored. If someone is surprised about this attitude in a webpage by the name of "Citizens of the World," someone may need a dictionary. Essentially, interventionism is a heavily context-dependent policy: Syria is broken up because of sectarianism -albeit not as badly as Iraq was- and the government, as authoritarian and inept as it is, manages to keep the country in control and stable. Of course, the truth is much more complicated.
While the government and its followers are of the Shia Alawi minority, rebels are Sunnis, the Orthodox Muslims who derive their civil laws from Muhammad's Hadiths. We liberals are always ready to defend the freedom of the individual against an authoritarian government but, what if the will of the average individual is the imposition of a theocracy in which "Christians" would be exiled "to Beirut" and "Alawites" would be send to "their coffins", as a popular chant of the rebellion celebrates? The issue is even more intricate: the government is keenly aware of the partially tribal roots of the rebellion and does not hesitate to point out -or even encourage, according to rumors- the sectarianism among the rebels, with the aim of convincing minorities that Assad is the one thing that stands between them and the wrath of the Sunnis.
The Uprising does not look so romantic when the only available options seem to be freedom with violent sectarianism and totalitarian order without tribalism. Would it not be logical to consider the imposition of a third foreign force? No one in their right mind would consider the UN an impartial judge -but at least it is not interested in ethnic cleansing or totalitarianism.
However, the Iraq fiasco when it comes to taking the reins of the country is even worse than the original fiasco that was the invasion, so it may also be possible that intervening on Syria over the course of the civil war is a zero-sum game -nobody wins. What is certainly clear is that the other alternatives are leading Syria to ruin and this is the one thing which has not been tried.
(Leer la versión original: Siria y el intervencionismo)