International Justice

CJ354 Endicott College

Buffer Zone in Syria

One possibility that has been considered by several major powers with regards to the Syria crisis has been a “buffer zone” to protect Syrian refugees that have made it to Turkey. As we discussed in class on thursday, the problem with Syria is sovereignty, as long as the Assad regime stays in power. A foreign affairs article discusses the possible buffer zone through the context of R2P. ISIS attacks on unprotected civilians qualifies under R2P as needing some form of humanitarian intervention. However, the problem remains with R2P that Russia could veto it at the Security Council. Furthermore, what would the creation of a buffer zone entail, and what would it look like? It would certainly need the backing of countries like the US and other powers to supply troops and air support. If western powers did intervene in some degree, the blame could easily be passed on to them if ISIS attacks continue. Also as the article notes, a buffer zone could exacerbate the crisis in that more Syrians might try to flee the country for safe haven.

Ultimately, this sort of intervention under R2P would not be a peacemaking endeavor. As the article notes, it wouldn’t be a “blank check” for western intervention to provide justice and end the conflict. On the contrary, the success of a buffer zone would depend on the volatility of the crisis in Syria, in terms of both ISIS and atrocities committed by the Assad regime. Yet the fact remains that “Syria’s humanitarian crisis is quickly becoming Turkey’s national security issue”. As Turkey has to handle an increasing amount of refugees, more pressure will be put on the UN, and it will be harder to ignore for countries like the US.


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