In these last years, Syria has presented itself as a volatile state. The political tactics imposed on the citizens has fueled resistance that has resulted in protests and the country faced with violence. Around December 2010, the Arab Spring started from Arab countries of West Asia and North Africa, particularly Tunisia where the citizens and opposition movements joint forces in rising against the ruling governments. It was on 15th March 2015 that the uprising reached. It was started through protests initiated by Daraa residents who demanded the release of 15 teenagers who had painted anti-regime graffiti in their school. They had been arrested and were tortured. The government resisted the demands at first, but it only made more people join in the demonstrations (Haran 8). By the time the students were released, a national outrage had been stirred. The President Bashar al-Assad, who is still the president, had inherited the harsh dictatorship from his father, Hafez al-Assad. Although in his early ruling time he had shown to be a better ruler than his father, the protests brought out something else in him. To face the protesters, he ordered tanks into the areas of residence and permitted the soldiers to open fire on the protesters. Within a few days, most of the protesters were killed.
Bashar promises and offers on better political reforms have been dismissed by the leaders of the protest. Out of this crisis, Syria has been expelled from the Arab league after failing to honor the peace agreements signed. Instead, his government has increased its force on the protesters. The crisis has left almost 250,000 people dead and over 4 million people displaced internally and in other countries. Syrias crisis has been complicated by the ethnic divisions where Assads followers belong to the Alawite sect while the resistant are mainly Sunni Muslims who make up three-quarters of the population. Some of the soldiers have left the army and joined forces with the protesters after witnessing the animosity authorized by the government. Although the United Nations attempts to liberate the country, China and Russia have blocked the efforts. Moreover, the opposition movement, Syrian National Council, comprised of defected militants, political personnel and exiles have not succeeded. Until now, Syria remains to be on the verge of civil war and destruction.
Syrias conflict can be attributed to theories of past philosophers. Among the Philosophers are Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679), John Locke (1632-1704) and Immanuel Kant (1724-1804). Thomas Hobbes is well known for his workpiece The Leviathan (1651). It was written when England was likely to experience a civil war. He believed that people need to be moderated to keep them from undertaking selfish gains. John Locke wrote the Two Treatises of Government (1960) and other writings that directed the debates which led to the famous 1968 Glorious Revolution. He believed in tolerance such that people should have the freedom to question authority. Immanuel Kant addresses the issue of enlightenment which he defines as a man's leaving his self-caused immaturity. One of his most interesting pieces is the essay on perpetual peace Their theories have been used to analyze the situation in Syria. However, the views of Thomas contrast with those of Locke and Kant.
Hobbes work addresses the topic power. He states that man has restless desire of power after power that ceases only in death. Al-Assad fight against the protesters is driven by the desire to retain and stay in authority for until the time he decides it is enough. In 2011 when the protests began, he applied force on the protesters. The intention was to stay in power no matter what it took. Eliminating the protesters meant that he would silence others and there would be no threat to his regime, only that he was wrong. The initial force instigated more protests and resistance which led him to increase his force against the opposition as time goes. He further tried using concessions where he lifted the 48-year-old emergency law as demanded by protesters but the situation did not change. The protesters wanted more reforms from his administration. In return, he employed more force. If his intentions were on governing the citizens, he would have resigned or implemented the will of the people. On the other hand, the protests are motivated by the desire to overthrow the government and take back the power. No one cares the loss incurred during the process. The main focus in Syria is power. As days, months and years pass, the president employs more power and seek support from other nations to guard his regime. From Hobbes argument, it is like Bashar will only give up the power on his death bed just like his father and the opposition will rest the day the power is back in the hands of Syrians.
The Bashar al-Assad administration has to a bigger extent adapted the Hobbesian human nature perspective on governance. Thomas Hobbes believed human beings were organisms in motion and they need to be restrained by authority from pursuing selfish ends. The president believes in necessary attempts to influence men and to do away with their arrogance and wicked passions (Schmitt 20). The Syrian government is restraining its citizen in different ways. It might in line with preventing them from pursuing selfish ends, taking over away from the current regime, or for its own benefits. Thomas believes that everyone is under a sovereign rule and in this case, the sovereign power is Bashar al-Assad who inherited the State from his father. He was not democratically elected to rule, but given that he holds the highest position in Syria, it is expected of the citizens to obey his directives. He belongs to the minority group, the Alawite, but the Sunni Muslim are also expected to follow his directives.
Hobbes believes that war is not always about fighting. He states that any setting needs n authority to ensure peace prevails. In Syria, two bodies are fighting to gain authority; al-Assad and the protestors. The different methods used by the two entities have only led to more bloodshed and misery. The government has authorized killings, and many have been displaced in their attempts to search for a peaceful location. The demonstrators have put their lives and those close to them in danger. The methods seem inhumane and immoral, but this is all right according to Hobbes. Since there is no common power in Syria, all justice and injustices are justified. The main desire of a man is to acquire and retain power. Al-Assad holds power for now and will do anything to retain it even if the country loses its allies and international help.
Hobbes views on the state in Syrian contrast with that of John Locke. They agree to some extent and differ in another. Locke believed in a contract between the government and the people which were bilateral. Obviously, there exist no bilateral agreement between Syrias government and its people. It is a general assumption and expectation that any sovereign power ruling a state should protect and take care of its citizens (Thomas 415). It is just a natural contract. However, the al-Assad government has breached the contract. Locke believes that whenever the sovereign power breaks the agreement, the other party has the right to fight back. Given the methods used by al-Assad in retaining power, the citizens have the right to retaliate and regain their original liberty.
When Hobbes view the Syria conflict as an attempt to pursue selfish ends, John views it as a selfless fight. The demonstrators primary goal is to liberate the country from the political and economic harassment, not to gain power and oppress others. In as much Hobbes present human as organisms to be controlled and their behavior can be modified (Roundtable 6), John states that the freedom should never be compromised. While the government attempt to control them, the protesters continue fighting for their freedom. In the process of controlling the citizens, the methods used are immoral. Thomas agrees with them, but Locke does not. He points that it is very unreasonable for anyone to cause harm just because they could not agree on some matters and it is the duty of the government to protect and secure its citizens.
Immanuel Kant advocate peace and enlightenment. He believes that true enlightenment requires people to freely reason and solve any problems in their daily life. He presents humans as moral organisms who should never get in the way of others in acquiring peace and development. However, the president does not act in a morally upright manner; his dignity is compromised in the thirst for power. Hobbes agree with the Syrias government approach in handling the protesters and gaining power. The government has intervened using the military, chemical weapons and foreign aid in the quest to retain power. Both Hobbes and Kant approve of the interventions. However, Kant disagrees on how the interventions are used. The Syrian government uses them against the protesters instead of restoring peace and regulating political affairs (Brauch 11). The interventions set to benefit the citizens, such as peace treaties are dismissed.
No rational man believes in using chemical weapons and other extreme methods in the name of power. Not even Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, and Immanuel Kant. All parties should come together and discuss on the way forward for a better future of Syria.
Brauch, Hans Gunter. "The Three Worldviews of Hobbes, Grotius and Kant." Foundations of modern think (n.d.): 11.
Haran, VP. "Rootsof The Syrian Crisis." Institute Of Peace And Conflict Studies (March 2016): 8.
Roundtable. "H-Diplo | ISSF." (2015): 6. Volume VII, No 12.
Schmitt, Carl. The Leviathan In The State Theory Of Thomas Hobbes. London: GreenWood Press, 1996. 20.
Thomas, Chantal. "What Does The Emerging International Law Of Migration Mean For Sovereignty?" Sovereignty and the New International Law of Migration (2013): 415.
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