Why Syria’s 60,000 Deaths Should Not Shock Us
he United Nations has reported that the conflict in Syria has exceeded 60,000 fatalities, with UN Human Rights Commissioner Navi Pillay describing the figure as “truly shocking.” The number is indeed harrowing but is not out of line with past civil wars, even those of the post-Cold War era. On average, most civil wars kill about 3,000 people per month, which means the nearly two-year conflict in Syria is about par for the course. The international community has tended to view the Syrian conflict as an outlier, when in fact the war has pretty much followed the pattern familiar of other internal conflicts.
The war started out as a nonviolent uprising demanding greater rights that triggered a bloody regime crackdown. Violence begot more violence, and the peaceful demonstrations quickly morphed into open rebellion, though one limited mostly to Syria’s periphery. Arms and outside assistance were slow to trickle in as the opposition found itself overmatched and fractured. (The first phase of an insurgency, according to Mao, is the organizational stage, which requires enlisting support among the population.) The attacks that followed against government forces and facilities were mostly of the guerrilla-style hit-and-run variety, especially in rural areas where government control is weaker and where the rebels can hide out in the population (the second phase of an insurgency is armed rebellion). The opposition drew greater support during this stage, and there were even a few high-profile defections among Syria’s political and military elite, albeit none among Assad’s prominent inner circle of Alawites.
read more: http://politicalviolenceataglance.org/2013/01/14/why-syrias-60000-deaths-should-not-shock-us/