Syria’s Best Way out of the Ongoing Crisis

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Manijeh Navidnia
Doctorate Degree in Sociology and Faculty Member, Islamic Azad University

News about explosions, destruction, massacre of defenseless people, homelessness and refugee state of the Syrian people have been hitting the headlines in international media for a while with reports being published on a daily basis about innocent people being killed. Under these conditions, government forces have been doing their best to restore security while international organizations are also striving to get control of the situation and reduce insecurity. Military equipment is already in gear and the armed forces, whose main duty is to defend the country’s borders against foreign enemy, are now in the Syrian cities. In the meantime, foreign countries are claiming to be defending the Syrian people. Syria, however, is still far from calm and the cost is being paid by the people. What need has, in fact, led to use of such terrible tools as brute force and power to end the crisis in Syria? Which source has authorized annihilation and destruction? What kind of reasoning has justified use of terror, fear, and panic as the means for achieving the goals? There are many such questions. “Security” can be a possible answer. From international organizations to the Syrian government and domestic groups, have all taken up arms in order to put an end to the unrest and restore security!

Principles on the basis of which security is built can be one of the main reasons which are frequently used to legitimize confrontations, skirmishes, conflicts and finally, wars. Perhaps, it will appear exaggeration, but has any reason been used more frequently and convincingly than establishment and protection of security to justify waging wars, destroying cities and killing human beings? As a result, security, which is supposed to be a safe haven for humans against threats and damages, has turned out to be one of the most dangerous phenomena in the human life.

The concept of security was born out of the political science and, perhaps, for this reason, it is closely intermingled with the concept of power. From the viewpoint of politicians, establishment of security requires dealing with risks and threats and this can be only possible by gaining more and more power. Therefore, politicians decided to gain as much power as they could in order to pave the way for the establishment of security. On the other hand, government seemed to be a suitable authority for the application of military equipment and weaponry. As a result, security was tied to two other entities which are, by nature, at odds with the very philosophy of security because the government naturally gives the highest priority to protecting its sovereignty and national interests. As put by Anthony Giddens, the concept of government is at odds with calm and security because it is always concerned about protecting its territorial integrity. On the other hand, military equipment and weaponry are means of violence which, as described by Michel Foucault, are at loggerheads with the concept of safety, security and tranquility.

This approach to security has caused the government forces in Syria to believe that taking advantage of all power tools is authorized in order to provide security. The result has been frequent bouts of shooting and explosions in cities and villages which are apparently aimed to annihilate government’s enemies. The opposition, on the other hand, has also taken up arms and is pouring fire on people’s lives and property. In the meantime, world powers have considered no limits for showing off their power and applying all kinds of military strategy to Syria. Two main elements which seem to be badly missing here are firstly, “security,” and secondly, “the people” of Syria. In order to put an end to such political configurations and provide Syrian people with a dignified human life, it is probably necessary to look at security from a new standpoint and define it on the basis of the principles of “universal life.” The assumption is that the international community may be able to find a way out of the dire conditions for Syria and all other countries which are willingly or unwillingly entangled in acute and severe security problems.

Manuel Castells believes that the universal life is a “network society” based on what he calls “informationalism.” To have a simple understanding of the network society, one can draw an analogy between that society and a symphonic orchestra. Each and every player plays their own instruments, but it is their coordination and harmony which finally gives birth to a pleasant musical piece to exhilarate the audience. A network society is based on different principles two of which will be mentioned here which are useful for building a new outlook of security. A) Presence of all players is necessary for performing a piece of music. Therefore, interaction with all groups and countries, even with a regression coefficient of about zero, is quite necessary in a modern society (both at domestic and foreign levels). The reason is that if such groups are pushed to the margins, they will be able to gradually increase their activities (by creating insecurity) and boost their index of effectiveness. This will allow them to take the helm of the situation as we are currently witnessing in Syria. B) In a modern society, “cooperation” is interrelated with the concept of “dependence” and none of them can exist without the other. Therefore, if even one single instrument in that hypothetical symphonic orchestra is faulty, as long as its problem has not been solved, the program cannot continue and music cannot be played. In comparison, security is the output of the cooperation and efforts made by all people, groups and countries. Perhaps one of the main reasons why the world on the whole is still suffering from insecurity is the reality that all governments have not reached the conclusion yet that security is a collective output and product. As a result, all groups, organizations and countries should do their part in producing and processing it through their own specific and unique efforts and activities.

Syria will not be able to restore security by drawing a sharp line between supporters of the Syrian government and the opposition. On the contrary, just in the same way that role of national borders in determining security issues is increasingly fading, the border among various political groups inside Syria are also losing importance. This will provide an opportunity for all parties to come to grips with the reality. As long as every political and ethnic group remains entrenched behind its own embankment, there would be no way to reestablish security. At international level, all countries should achieve an accurate understanding of the close relationship between “cooperation and dependence” (as opposed to balance of power, deterrence power…). Otherwise, Syria will continue to be concerned about measures taken by adversary states as a result of which it will stay a long distance away from the real security.

Key Words: Syria, Crisis, Best Solution, Security, Power, Sovereignty and National Interests, Opposition, Cooperation and Dependence, Navidnia