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Friday, January 4, 2013

Syrian Demographic Disaster Bleeds On

The Syrian uprising/civil war has now been going on for nearly two years. I first noted it in June of 2011, when it was clear that the Arab Spring was vastly more complex and deadly in Syria than elsewhere. The United Nations this week produced an estimate that 60,000 Syrians have died as a result of the conflict. These victims are in addition to the nearly 500,000 refugees that have fled the country, spreading out in the neighboring countries of Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, and Iraq (in order of the number of refugees). Keep in mind that it is exceedingly difficult to count deaths in the midst of a conflict, but the general methodology was laid out by the UN:
According to a news release issued by OHCHR, the preliminary analysis, which took five months to complete, was conducted using a combined list of 147,349 reported killings, fully identified by the first and last name of the victims, as well as the date and location of the deaths.
Any reported killing that did not include at least these four elements was excluded from the list, which was compiled using datasets from seven different sources, including the Syrian Government.
The analysts noted that 60,000 is likely to be an underestimate of the actual number of deaths, given that reports containing insufficient information were excluded from the list, and that a significant number of killings may not have been documented at all by any of the seven sources.
These estimates are both higher than previous estimates, and yet are claimed by the UN to be minimum estimates, so there is bound to be criticism. But it seems silly to quibble about the numbers when it is so abundantly clear that a lot of people are dying needlessly and that the violence should end. It appears that Russia is the key player here. If Putin withdrew his support for Assad, the Syrian government would almost certainly collapse. That seems to receive little notice in the West, where the "more important" news regarding Putin is that he is offering Russian citizenship to wealthy French entertainers  who want to avoid the high taxes in France. And the bleeding in Syria continues...


  1. Greetings from the Middle East.

    This is indeed a tragic situation. But I think that when al Assad is gone--that is when the blood-letting will really start. This is a prelude to something much more violent and prolonged, as the concept of us v. them will turn into (to quote an old Arab idiom) "me v. my brother; me and my brother v. my cousin; me and my cousin v. the world."

    I hope I'm wrong about this. I hope that Assad will go and then there will elections and everyone will realize that compromise and rule of law are best. But I'm almost certain this will not happen.

    Nevertheless, thanks for bringing our attention to this tragic time in Syria.

    1. I agree that the strong potential exists for even more chaos if Assad leaves the scene, but that also seems to be the only way in which outsiders, especially Europeans and Americans, are likely to enter the picture with the hope of sorting things out.