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In March 2011 Syria’s government, led by Pres. Bashar al-Assad, faced an unprecedented challenge to its authority when pro-democracy protests erupted throughout the country. Protesters demanded an end to the authoritarian practices of the Assad regime, in place since Assad’s father, Ḥafiz al-Assad, became president in 1971. The Syrian government used violence to suppress demonstrations, making extensive use of police, military, and paramilitary forces. Amateur footage and eyewitness accounts, the primary sources of information in a country largely closed to foreign journalists, showed the Syrian security forces beating and killing protesters and firing indiscriminately into crowds. Opposition militias began to form in 2011, and by 2012 the conflict had expanded into a full-fledged civil war.
In mid-January 2012 the credibility of the monitoring mission seemed to decline further when a delegation member who had resigned from the group called the mission “a farce,” claiming that Syrian government forces had presented the monitors with orchestrated scenes and restricted their movements. After several Arab countries withdrew their monitors over concerns for their safety, the Arab League formally suspended the monitoring mission on January 28, citing an increase in violence as the reason.
Violence seemed to accelerate after the failure of the Arab League monitoring mission. In early February 2012 the Syrian army began a sustained assault on Homs, bombarding opposition-held neighborhoods with artillery over a period of several weeks. Later that month, the Arab League and the UN jointly appointed Kofi Annan, a former secretary-general of the United Nations, as a peace envoy for Syria. Annan’s attempt to negotiate an end to violence, like that of the Arab League in 2011, was undermined by the Syrian regime’s failure to adhere to negotiated agreements. A drop in violence in mid-April following implementation of the UN-sponsored cease-fire and the arrival of a UN monitoring team briefly raised hopes of progress. Within days, however, the cease-fire had collapsed and attacks by government and opposition forces had resumed. The UN suspended monitoring operations in June over fears for the monitors’ safety. Frustrated by a dramatic surge in violence over the summer of 2012, Annan resigned in August and was replaced by the Algerian diplomat Lakhdar Brahimi.
By early 2012 many international observers and members of the opposition had come to regard the Istanbul-based Syrian National Council as too narrow and too weakened by infighting to effectively represent the opposition. After months of contentious diplomacy, in November Syrian opposition leaders announced the formation of a new coalition called the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces. Over the next month the coalition received recognition from dozens of countries as the legitimate representative of the Syrian people.
There were new calls for international military action in Syria after suspected chemical weapons attacks in the suburbs of Damascus killed hundreds on August 21, 2013. The Syrian opposition accused pro-Assad forces of having carried out the attacks. Syrian officials denied having used chemical weapons and asserted that if such weapons had been used, rebel forces were to blame. While UN weapons inspectors collected evidence at the sites of the alleged chemical attacks, U.S., British, and French leaders denounced the use of chemical weapons and made it known that they were considering retaliatory strikes against the Syrian regime. Russia, China, and Iran spoke out against military action, and Assad vowed to fight what he described as Western aggression.
Hundreds of people were killed in August 2013 after rockets filled with the nerve agent Sarin were fired at several agricultural districts around Damascus. Western powers, outraged by the attack, said it could only have been carried out by Syria's government. The regime and its ally Russia blamed rebels.
The prospect of international military intervention in Syria began to fade by the end of August, in part because it became evident that majorities in the United States and the United Kingdom were opposed to military action. A motion in the British Parliament to authorize strikes in Syria failed on August 29, and a similar vote in the U.S. Congress was postponed on September 10. Meanwhile, diplomacy took centre stage, resulting in an agreement between Russia, Syria, and the United States on September 14 to place all of Syria’s chemical weapons under international control.
More than 200,000 Syrians have lost their lives in four years of armed conflict, which began with anti-government protests before escalating into a full-scale civil war. More than 11 million others have been forced from their homes as forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad and those opposed to his rule battle each other - as well as jihadist militants from Islamic State. These are some of the repercussions of the Syrian conflict.
By June 2013, the UN said 90,000 people had been killed in the conflict. However, by August 2014 that figure had more than doubled to 191,000 - and continued to climb to 220,000 by March 2015, according to activists and the UN.
Almost 4 million people have fled Syria since the start of the conflict, most of them women and children. It is one of the largest refugee exoduses in recent history. Neighboring countries have borne the brunt of the refugee crisis, with Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey struggling to accommodate the flood of new arrivals. The exodus accelerated dramatically in 2013, as conditions in Syria deteriorated.
A further 7.6 million Syrians have been internally displaced within the country, bringing the total number forced to flee their homes to more than 11 million - half the country's pre-crisis population. Overall, an estimated 12.2 million are in need of humanitarian assistance inside Syria, including 5.6 million children, the UN says. In December 2014, the UN launched an appeal for $8.4bn (£5.6bn) to provide help to 18 million Syrians, after only securing about half the funding it asked for in 2014.
A report published by the UN in March 2015 estimated the total economic loss since the start of the conflict was $202bn and that four in every five Syrians were now living in poverty - 30% of them in abject poverty. Syria's education, health and social welfare systems are also in a state of collapse.
Capitalizing on the chaos in the region, Islamic State (IS) - the extremist group that grew out of al-Qaeda in Iraq - has taken control of huge swathes of territory across northern and eastern Syria, as well as neighboring Iraq. Its many foreign fighters in Syria are now involved in a "war within a war", battling rebels and jihadists from the al-Qaeda-affiliated Nusra Front, who object to their tactics, as well as Kurdish and government forces.
In the political arena, rebel groups are also deeply divided - with rival alliances battling for supremacy. The most prominent is the moderate National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces, backed by several Western and Gulf Arab states. However, the coalition has little influence on the ground in Syria and its primacy is rejected by other groups, leaving the
In January 2014, the US, Russia and UN convened a conference in Switzerland to implement the 2012 Geneva Communique, an internationally-backed agreement that called for the establishment of a transitional governing body in Syria formed on the basis of mutual consent.
The talks, which became known as Geneva II, broke down in February after only two rounds. UN special envoy Lakhdar Brahimi blamed the Syrian government's refusal to discuss opposition demands and its insistence on a focus on fighting "terrorists" - a term Damascus uses to describe rebel groups.
What began as another Arab Spring uprising against an autocratic ruler has mushroomed into a brutal proxy war that has drawn in regional and world powers. Iran and Russia have propped up the Alawite-led government of President Assad and gradually increased their support, providing it with an edge that has helped it make significant gains against the rebels. The government has also enjoyed the support of Lebanon's Shia Islamist Hezbollah movement, whose fighters have provided important battlefield support since 2013. The Sunni-dominated opposition has, meanwhile, attracted varying degrees of support from its main backers - Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and other Arab states along with the US, UK and France. However, the rise of hardline Islamist rebels and the arrival of jihadists from across the world has led to a marked cooling of international and regional backing.
If there is to be peace in Syria, it will come when Iran and Saudi Arabia, the principal supporters, respectively, of the Shiite and Sunni factions in the Middle East, work together to stabilize the country. Important elements of the opposition will disavow the idea of sharing power with representatives of a brutal, de-legitimized regime, but most people in opposition-held territories will prefer it to continued war. Bringing credible societal representatives together will certainly not end the military confrontation immediately, but it could create the basis for a new social contract, and thereby, change the political dynamics of the conflict.

Works Cited
Jenkins, Joy “Visual Framing of the Syrian Conflict in News and Public Affairs Magazines.” Journalism Studies. Apr2015, Vol. 16 Issue 2, p207-227. 21p. 9 Color Photographs, 2 Charts.
Sekkarie, Mohamed “The Syrian conflict: assessment of the ESRD system and response to hemodialysis needs during a humanitarian and medical crisis.” Kidney International. Feb2015, Vol. 87 Issue 2, p262-265. 4p
Jabbar, Sinaria Abdel “Impact of conflict in Syria on Syrian children at the Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan.” Early Child Development & Care. Oct2014, Vol. 184 Issue 9/10, p1507-1530. 24p.
Al-Rashidi, Medwis “The Geneva II Peace Talks and the Syrian Conflict: Neglected Legal Elements.” Journal of East Asia & International Law. 2014, Vol. 7 Issue 1, p127-128. 2p.
Geukjian, Ohannes “Political Instability and Conflict after the Syrian Withdrawal from Lebanon.” Middle East Journal. Autumn2014, Vol. 68 Issue 4, p521-546. 26p.…...

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...International Relations (IR) scholarship has been between rationalism and constructivism (Katzenstein et al, 1998; Fearon and Wendt, 2002). How to define the relationship between rationality and norms or identity has been one of the main issues in this debate. Rationalists tend to subsume norms and identity under the concept of instrumental rationality. This article maintains that ideational or social-psychological motivations such as norms and identity cannot be fully explained by instrumental rationality. My argument is that © 2015 Macmillan Publishers Ltd. 1384-5748 International Politics Vol. 52, 1, 110–127 Rationality, norms and identity the politically significant motives of social actions are broader and more diverse than most rationalists allow for. But I also argue that constructivism cannot totally replace rationalism in explaining international political life because solid and well-defined self-interests formed by cost–benefit analysis can lead actors to forsake their normative values and identities. The essay is composed of three sections. In the first section, I explore the major differences between rationalism and constructivism, and define instrumental rationality, identity and norms. In the second, concepts like thymos, affect and value-oriented rationality are introduced, and I discuss some limits or problems of rationalism, particularly the concept of instrumental rationality, in the study of IR. Finally, I......

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Xbrl for the Irs

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