Understanding the War in Syria

Stream: Panel 32 - International Relations: Syria
Date: Tuesday, 27 September 2016
Time: 11.30 am – 1.00 pm


The war in Syria has been going for over five years. According to the United Nations, by July 2015, some 220,000 people had been killed, over 8.6 million people had been displaced and four million people had registered as refugees. Much of the country has been left in ruins by the intense conflict. Mainstream Western media accounts of the conflict have largely framed it as a civil war which began when Syrian President Bashar al-Assad violently suppressed peaceful protests against his government during the Arab Spring. Western powers, such as the United States, have been presented as making a positive contribution to the struggle for democracy in Syria and in combatting the terrorist groups like ISIS which have infiltrated the country. This paper will challenge this narrative using a variety of open source material from investigative journalists, WikiLeaks, intelligence agency documents and scholarly works. The paper will argue that Western media reports have largely obscured and misrepresented events in Syria and this has concealed the actual role played in the conflict by the US and other foreign governments.


Ross Morrow (Presenter), University of Sydney