FAO Quotables

"But being right, even morally right, isn't everything. It is also important to be competent, to be consistent, and to be knowledgeable. It's important for your soldiers and diplomats to speak the language of the people you want to influence. It's important to understand the ethnic and tribal divisions of the place you hope to assist."
-Anne Applebaum

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Genocide in Syria? Early Warning Systems for Genocide

BONUS LINK:  My entire (so far) grad school notes collection can be found here. 

Let me preface this post by saying I know VERY little about Syria.  My studies mainly focus on those countries on the African continent but many of my courses this quarter peripherally touch on Syria. This means that I write my ideas from a place of humility, eager to continue to read and learn from country and regional experts.  

Genocide in Syria?

Were I a Shia--or an Alawite (or a Christian for that matter)--I would make sure I had a back packed to hightail it out of Syria as quickly as possible.

I just read  Barbara Harff's No Lessons Learned from the Holocaust?  Assessing Risks of Genocide and Political Mass Murder since 1955 for my class on ethnic conflict and it opened my eyes to the possibility for future genocides to occur around the globe.

Harff identifies several variables that can be used as early warning identifying markers but there is one that has the biggest demonstrated influence:  a formerly dominant minority that loses power due to state failure is 2.5 times more likely to become targets of a genocidal campaign.  This means that the Alawite minority and Christian minority (espousing an economic power instead of a political one) would become the targets when they lose power.
Would the Alawites be better off seceding when they lose power and forming their own state in the northwest region of Syria?
Would a post-Assad Syria be better off (of course what does that mean--better off for who?) without the Alawites and Shia as part of Syria?
Does this idea open the door too wide for the possibility of ethnic cleansing?

Of note there are other early warning models out there, most notably at the Sentinel Project.

LINKS for further consideration:

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