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Syrian Crisis: Security Threat to the GCC

Background to the Conflict

The BBC (2014) has contributed towards the understanding of the origins of the Syrian dispute. Based on the BBC account, the Syrian conflict ensued when the government led by President Bashar al-Assad employed excessive force in suppressing pro-democracy demonstrations in March 2011. From that time, opposition supporters took arms for the purposes of self-defense. However, the opposition sought to expel government forces paving the way for the long-running conflict.

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Threats to GCC

The influx of refugees from Syria into the larger GCC regions comes with serious threats to peace. Specifically, countries such as Jordan have to budget for the care of the refugees. In 2013, it was reported that Jordan set aside five hundred million US dollars to cater for refugees (Muslih, 2013). Besides being viewed as an economic burden, refugees are also seen as a concern that is likely to contribute towards exacerbating fuel and water shortages, unemployment and inflationary pressures within the region. Moreover, the problem of insecurity far outweighs such concerns. It is noted that in the current times, problems bordering on insecurity are aggravated by terrorist activities, which have risen considerably. Hence, countries from the region fear the likely consequences that refugees may pose. Countries such as Jordan stand to suffer from demographic imbalances owing to its history of hosting refugees from Palestine and Iraq.

Policy Options

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In the past, the use of threats has been employed in a bid to control the crisis. However, as Landis (2012) argued, the use of sanctions and related threats has not helped much in solving the dispute. The Syrian crisis has also split GCC members on policy interventions. For instance, Jordan seems to be charting a different path since its position differs with that taken by the other six member countries from the region. Jordan, an ally of the US, insists on restraint and incremental measures as the right approach to solving the crisis. However, the other GCC countries have been pushing hard for an all-out assault on Syria.

According to Hagel and Loeb (2014), adopting a corroborative policy approach is the key towards resolving the Syrian dispute. In particular, the authors refer to the suggestion by the US to kingdom of Saudi Arabia calling for unity in confronting the problem. In the views of the US, the Syrian problem is accentuated by Iran, which means there is a need for concerted efforts to contain the threat. The fact that Qatar supports the Muslim Brotherhood is a concern that other states, such as the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, find unacceptable. Hence, resolving such issues leading to adoption of a united approach would be critical, as supported by Ziadeh (2011).

According to Elsayed-Ali (2013), the refugee problem gone beyond the control of GCC. Thus, finding a swift response to the crisis would be welcome. In handling the refugee problem, the GCC region should consider integrating the refugees into their countries. Such an option would defuse the tension associated with having foreigners among the concerned countries. In addition, the move would reduce the likelihood of the refugees fuelling insecurity within the region.

What is more important, the GCC members should broker a peace deal between the opposition and government. Through such an initiative, GCC members should look for a truce where the two protagonists’ interests are addressed. Concisely, finding a compromise would be critical. If GCC manages to find a middle ground for the warring parties, the refugee problem would be dealt with since refugees will have the option of returning to their respective areas of residence (Ziadeh, 2011).

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Based on the paper, the Syrian crisis poses a major problem that must be addressed urgently. The dangers attributable to the problem cut across the social, political and economic spheres of life. Hence, the collaborative approach to brokering peace should be considered. In the meantime, the refugee problem should also be well thought out since it poses a security threat. In that regard, integration of the refugees should be explored. Similarly, applying sanctions to cut off major supplies might force the government to cooperate.

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