Committee: UN Committee
Topic Area: Syrian Civil War
Since it began in the early spring of 2011, the Syrian civil unrest, now known as the Syrian Civil War, has seen mixed reactions from countries in various parts of the world, with some providing support while others opposing the same. The impacts of the war have been felt in every part of the world particularly Southeast Asia. Malaysia is one of the several countries that have in recent years felt the impact of the war, and this is because recently, after the pledge by Prime Minister Najib Razak at the UN General Assembly 2015, it has served as a home to over 3,000 Syrian refugees. Positive relations between Syria and Malaysia began in 1958, and they were strengthened by the establishment of embassies in each of the countries’ capitals. The establishment of Syria’s embassy took place in 2001 in Kuala Lumpur whereas the creation of Malaysia’s embassy took place in 2002 in Damascus. Diplomatic relations between the two countries have been strengthened in recent years with President Bashar al-Assad visiting Malaysia in 2003, and Yang di-Pertuan Agong visiting Syria in the same year. As such, Malaysia is concerned with the current Syrian Civil War, which according to reports, has resulted in the loss of approximately 250,000 lives and displacing several other people.
How Syrian Civil War affects Malaysia
Today, there are several factors believed to have worsened the Syrian Civil War rather than bringing it to an end. The rise of ISIS in the country has seen rebel groups and government-aligned groups attempt to counteract the rise and spread of the same. However, these efforts have resulted in more killings, displacement, and increased immigration of Syrians to other countries. Malaysia believes that the rise of ISIS is slowly spreading to other nations, and the fact that ISIS-related groups are now based in Malaysia is a big blow. Malaysia attributes the spread of ISIS to other countries mainly Islamic states to the Syrian war, and there are fears that this has contributed to the terrorist events being witnessed in Malaysia. Most recently, the participation of Malaysia in bringing the Syrian Civil War to an end saw terrorist attacks targeted at a Malaysian airplane, highlighting the extent to which the Syrian war has affected Malaysia. Malaysian authorities recently gave reports of having arrested over 100 individuals who were linked to ISIS. The discovery of an ISIS cell in Malaysia marked our struggles and efforts as a country to counter global terrorism especially the spread of ISIS.
Moreover, being one of the key exporters of oil in Asia, the war in Syria has affected its oil production and exportation, and this has not only affected the economy of Asia-Pacific countries such as Malaysia but also the global economy, and this could be one of the key reasons why countries have different stands in the Syrian Civil War. On its accord, Malaysia believes that peace is paramount and that to stop the negative effects of the war on other countries, it is imperative for military superpowers such as the US to help bring the same to an end. Malaysia is of the opinion that failure to bring the war to an end could see more Syrians migrate to other countries, with itself having received over 3000 refugees in the past few years.
Malaysia’s current policies with respect to Syrian Civil War
Malaysia believes firmly that the Syrian Civil War like other wars in Middle-East countries such as Iraq, Palestine, and Afghanistan, was fueled by America’s foreign policies that have always alienated the Muslim world. In fact, the US has and will continue to be a key player in global terrorism and wars in Muslim states, unless its foreign policies on these countries are not examined. Given the role of terrorism through the involvement of ISIS in the Syrian Civil War, Malaysia has come up with policies regarding terrorism and the need for global cooperation to counteract the same. It has come up with an anti-terrorism policy, which has seen suspected terrorists or militia groups arrested and prosecuted. This was evident when the Malaysian government ordered the arrest of over 100 individuals who were believed to be associated with ISIS, which is one of the perpetrators of the Syrian Civil War. Most recently, Malaysia came up with an immigration policy, which saw immigrants from Syria allowed into the country without demanding documentation from them. This was underscored by the deputy home minister of Malaysia, Nur Jazlan Mohammed when he stated that Malaysia would continue welcoming Syrian migrants, and due process would be carried out to ensure temporary visiting passes are issued to them. Nur Jazlan also highlighted the commitment of Malaysia to welcome Syrian migrants when he said that a task force had been set up to handle the identification process for Syrian migrants, who would initially be considered migrants and not refugees until the reception of UNHCR cards.
Actions taken by Malaysia
With several actions taken by both the Malaysian government and its citizens to protect Syria from rogue leadership and the civil war, the fact that Malaysia opposes the adverse undertakings in Syria cannot be doubted. Recently, Malaysia criticized America, under the Obama administration for failing to honor its pledge of bringing the civil war to an end. Although the US and Russia signed agreements to bring the war to an end on March 2016, nothing productive is yet to be seen. Malaysia, on the other hand, with its meager resources, has since 2015 welcomed 3000 Syrian migrants into the country, highlighting the commitment and concern it has for Syrian citizens. Another action taken by Malaysian government with regard to the Syrian Civil War is that it has allowed hundreds of Malaysian Muslims to go to Syria to help fight to bring the war to an end. This is an insinuation of the concern that the Malaysian government has for Syria being a Muslim state. Arguably, the desire by both the Malaysian government and citizens to help solve the situation in Syria has gone to extremes, and reports indicate that it has become an obsession for Malaysians. It is irrefutable that the Malaysian government is willing to take a bullet while protecting Syria rather than protecting Malaysian citizens suffering under malpractices such as corruption. Malaysia supports Russia in its bid and efforts to ensure that the Syrian Civil War is brought to an end in the near future. In fact, there have been talks between the two governments on the way forward regarding the current civil war in Syria.
Solution to the Syrian War
Given the adverse impacts of the Syrian War on Asian countries and other regions of the world, there is no doubt that every country wishes to see the war brought to an end, and Malaysia has not been left behind in this. In fact, having felt the impact of the civil war in Syria, Malaysia believes that the UN with the help of other countries should take the following solutions into account:
- Embrace of an anti-ISIS campaign
With the belief that terrorism fueled by terrorist groups such as ISIS has a hand in the Syrian Civil War, Malaysia believes that a UN and US-led campaign against ISIS would enjoy a broad consensus among the world and Arab leaders as well as public opinion and that it would help bring the civil war to an end. The Malaysian government agrees that ISIS is the most dangerous enemy not only to the Arab nations but also to other regions of the world, and thus, a clear definition of how to end ISIS’s game would also help bring the Syrian Civil War to an end.
- Build capacity for Syria’s stabilization
Malaysia believes that none of the political parties in Syria has the capacity or capability to enforce law and order within Syria’s boundaries, and this is one of the factors worsening the Syrian Civil War. Political parties, rebel groups, ISIS, and the Syrian government are fighting one another, and with this, the achievement of Syria’s stabilization is unlikely to be achieved. However, Malaysia believes that building capacity for stabilization of the country is essential, and this should involve collaboration among the warring factions. However, such collaboration requires back up and commitment from other nations such as the US, which ought to come up with a strategy of bringing warring stakeholders in Syria into a line. This would require serious funding, which would not be a problem to the US given its global economic prowess.
- Bringing regional players into line
Despite the fact that Malaysia does not neighbor Syria, it believes that there are regional powers that play a role in the Syrian Civil War through the provision of military and financial support to opposition and rebel groups to fight the government in power. As such, Malaysia believes that having these regional powers commit to the implementation of a common strategy with an end to the war in mind would be important. There is no doubt that some of the regional players have the power and retain a strong capacity to change the situation in Syria as well as eliminate the most radical groups in the country. Malaysia is of the opinion that one of the regional players that should show commitment towards ending the Syrian Civil War is Turkey.
- Withdrawal of foreign forces
Irrefutably, the presence of foreign troops in Syria tends to spark the Syrian Civil War rather than end it. ISIS is in strong opposition of foreign forces such as those of US, and the fact that US is involved has worsened the war, and as it stands, it is unlikely to end in the near future. However, Malaysia believes that the withdrawal of foreign forces would serve as a critical aspect of Syria’s security arrangement, which in the long run, would see the Syrian Civil War brought to an end.
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Erlich, Reese. Inside Syria: The backstory of their civil war and what the world can expect. Prometheus Books, 2014.
Filiu, Jean-Pierre. From Deep State to Islamic State: The Arab Counter-RevolutionNBand its Jihadi Legacy. Oxford University Press, 2015.
Yassine-Hamdan, Nahla, and Frederic S. Pearson. Arab Approaches to Conflict Resolution: Mediation, negotiation and settlement of political disputes. Routledge, 2014.
Young, William, David Stebbins, Bryan A. Frederick, and Omar Al-Shahery. Spillover from the Conflict in Syria: An Assessment of the Factors that Aid and Impede the Spread of Violence. Rand Corporation, 2014.
 Erlich, Reese. Inside Syria: The backstory of their civil war and what the world can expect. Prometheus Books, 2014.
 Cockburn, Patrick. The Jihadis return: ISIS and the new Sunni uprising. 2014.
 Young, William, David Stebbins, Bryan A. Frederick, and Omar Al-Shahery. Spillover from the Conflict in Syria: An Assessment of the Factors that Aid and Impede the Spread of Violence. Rand Corporation, 2014.
 Filiu, Jean-Pierre. From Deep State to Islamic State: The Arab Counter-RevolutionNBand its Jihadi Legacy. Oxford University Press, 2015.
 Yassine-Hamdan, Nahla, and Frederic S. Pearson. Arab Approaches to Conflict Resolution: Mediation, negotiation and settlement of political disputes. Routledge, 2014.
 Ibid, 39