Dat is de conclusie van een niet heel recent, maar nog steeds erg lezenswaardig stuk in The New York Times. Een paar voorproefjes:
Academic research on civil wars, taken together, reveals why. The average such conflict now lasts about a decade, twice as long as Syria’s so far. But there are a handful of factors that can make them longer, more violent and harder to stop. Virtually all are present in Syria. […]
A study of every United Nations peacemaking effort since 1945 found that it succeeded in resolving two-thirds of two-sided civil wars, but only one-quarter of multisided ones. Syria’s battlefield is a complex polygon, with an array of Syrian rebel groups that include moderates and Islamists; affiliates of Al Qaeda and the Islamic State; Syrian forces and outsiders like the Lebanese Shiite militia Hezbollah; and foreign fighters who join in the name of jihad. […]
Buitenlandse steun aan verschillende strijdende partijen maakt de zaken vooral erger:
Foreign sponsors do not just remove mechanisms for peace. They introduce self-reinforcing mechanisms for an ever-intensifying stalemate.
Whenever one side loses ground, its foreign backers increase their involvement, sending supplies or air support to prevent their favored player’s defeat. Then that side begins winning, which tends to prompt the other’s foreign backers to up their ante as well. Each escalation is a bit stronger than what came before, accelerating the killing without ever changing the war’s fundamental balance.
In most civil wars, the fighting forces depend on popular support to succeed. This “human terrain,” as counterinsurgency experts call it, provides all sides with an incentive to protect civilians and minimize atrocities, and has often proved decisive.
Wars like Syria’s, in which the government and opposition rely heavily on foreign support, encourage the precise opposite behavior, according to research by the political scientists Reed M. Wood of Arizona State University, Jacob D. Kathman of the State University of New York at Buffalo, and Stephen E. Gent of the University of North Carolina.
Een realistische oplossing is daarom niet in zicht:
The only certain way to break the logjam is for one side to surge beyond what the other can match. Because Syria has sucked in two of the world’s leading military powers, Russia and the United States, that bar could most likely be cleared only by a full-scale invasion.
In the best case, this would require something akin to the yearslong American occupations of Iraq or Afghanistan. In the worst, invading a war zone where so many foreign adversaries are active could ignite a major regional war.
Hoe gaat het dan wel aflopen? Niet goed in ieder geval:
Professor Fearon, listing the ways that Syria’s war cannot end, said that in the best case, one side would slowly grind out a far-off victory that would merely downgrade the war into “a somewhat lower-level insurgency, terrorist attacks and so on.”
The worst case is significantly worse.
According to a 2015 paper by Professor Walter and Kenneth M. Pollack, a Middle East expert, “Outright military victory in a civil war often comes at the price of horrific (even genocidal) levels of violence against the defeated, including their civilian populations.”
This could bring entirely new conflicts to the Middle East, they found: “Victorious groups in a civil war sometimes also try to employ their newfound strength against neighboring states, resulting in interstate wars.”
Die vluchtelingen zullen dus nog wel even blijven komen.