Syrian civil war needs cooperative solution

Syrian civil war needs cooperative solution

Anant Naik

Germany recently announced that it would be willing to accept 500,000 refugees every year from the grueling Syrian civil war. All across Europe, countries are facing a humanitarian conundrum: whether to accept refugees to live among their own citizens. 
 
While we can appreciate the gracious and accepting nature of many countries, it’s time that the international community finally asks the important questions. 
 
When will the Syrian conflict end? How will it end? How can we stop it?
 
The Syrian conflict has lasted far too long. It has consumed nearly a quarter of a million lives. It has internally displaced almost 8 million people, and it has left several million others fleeing to Europe, Turkey, Lebanon and other areas.
 
It’s now time for the international community to put an end to the conflict. Countries will not resolve this crisis by accepting refugees. They will not resolve it by establishing partial no-fly zones. There is no nice, happy solution to this problem. However, failure to act will cause more instability in the region, and the death toll will continue to tower above our minute solutions. 
 
On Aug. 16, the Syrian government under President Bashar Assad launched an airstrike in a marketplace and residential area of the heavily populated city of Douma. At least 550 civilians were injured — many of them were innocent children, men and women. 
 
This wasn’t an isolated incident. These kinds of attacks have wreaked carnage on the souls of the Syrian people. Still, the biggest headlines are reading, “X country accepts Y number of people.” That kind of headline should be a given in this crisis — all countries should be doing whatever they can to help mitigate the war’s consequences. 
 
Rather than count the number of refugees, we should discuss how to end the conflict.
 
There are only two ways for us to address the Syrian civil war. The first option is for the international community to launch a full assault and overthrow the Assad government, creating a new country with a new constitution. This would necessitate boots on the ground, and it would trouble the American psyche with memories of our past in Iraq and 
Afghanistan. 
 
The second option is to wall off the entire region and focus on containing the crisis. This is already proving to be nigh impossible due to the involvement of the Islamic State and other militant threats in the Middle East. 
 
Such a solution would give the international community a sharp reminder of what happened in Libya — after the fall of a dictator, rogue military groups perpetually fought to fill a power vacuum.
 
We must hope there is a third option. Pulitzer Prize winner Thomas Friedman argues that we are fooling ourselves if we think that establishing more no-fly zones and taking in more refugees is the answer to the crisis. We need to develop new solutions now, before the crisis continues to get worse — at this point, it’s now or never.