Syria Civil War Brilliantly Explained In Pub Fight Analogy By Emlyn Pearce

08/02/2016 13:52 | Updated 08 February 2016

The situation is Syria is massively complex - numerous sides fighting each other for a myriad of different causes with civilians caught helplessly in the middle.

Muddying the situation even further are the international actors intervening all with their own geo-political agendas.

One huge, very visible and very divisive symptom of all this is the current refugee crisis across Europe.


Syrians ride a motorbike past a collapsed building in the town of Talbisseh in the Homs province

And a familiar refrain amongst those opposed to Britain taking in those fleeing is: "Why don't they stay and fight?"

Luckily blogger Emlyn Pearce is on hand with this excellent pub analogy to try and make things more relatable.

So a lot of British people seem to be wondering why refugees don't stay in their own countries and take up arms to...

Posted by Emlyn Pearce on Sunday, February 7, 2016


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Infographic supplied by Statista

The chart above shows the the origin countries of the 19,196 people who claimed asylum in the UK from January to July of 2015.

  • 1 Eritrea - 2,034 (10.5%)
    A 2015 UN report on Eritrea found widespread evidence of human rights violations in the country committed "under the authority of the government". Some of these could amount to crimes against humanity. Individuals are "routinely arbitrarily arrested and detained, tortured, disappeared or extrajudicially executed".

    Forced labour and national service are also enforced. Those singled out for persecution include anybody who does not belong to one of the four official religions - Roman Catholic Church, Eritrean Orthodox Church, Sunni Islam or the Eritrean Evangelical Church. All others are required to register and are not allowed to worship freely.

    Democracy is absent with citizens unable to partake in free and fair elections in order to change their government. The UN security council recently convened to discuss continuing sanctions against the government who it deems to be supporting 'subversion' across the Horn of Africa.
  • 2 Sudan - 1,736 (9%)
    Two million people are believed to have lost their lives due to civil war and famine in Sudan since 1983. Today, civilians face indiscriminate bombings and targeted attacks by government forces.

    Power is solely in the hands of the authoritarian President Omar Hassan al-Bashir. Christians in the country are persecuted as exemplified by the case last year of Maryam Yaḥyā Ibrahīm Isḥaq who was sentenced to death for leaving Islam and marrying her Christian husband.

    Women also face female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C), sexual violence, and trafficking.

    Forty percent of children from five conflict-scarred Middle Eastern countries are not in school, the U.N. child welfare agency said in a report Thursday, Sept. 3, 2015, warning of a lost generation and a dim future for the region. UNICEF said 13.7 million out of 34 million school age children in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Libya and Sudan are not getting an education, almost double the number five years ago.
  • 3 Pakistan - 1,700 (9%)
    Pakistan continues to face frequent gun and bomb attacks that have claimed the lives of tens of thousands of people over the last decade as Taliban and Al-Qaeda linked groups hiding in the tribal areas bordering Afghanistan battle government and international forces.

    Just today (14 Oct) a bomb blast targeting a ruling party lawmaker killed seven people in the centre of the country.

    More generally, Pakistanis face extrajudicial and targeted killings, disappearances, and a general lack of rule of law compounded by widespread corruption within the government and armed forces.
  • 4 Iran - 1,353 (7%)
    Women, ethnic and religious minorities, and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons all face persecution in the majority Shia Muslim theocratic republic. The US State Department lists other human rights concerns including disappearances; cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment, including judicially sanctioned amputation and flogging.
  • 5 Syria - 1,314 (7%)
    Since the start of Syria's brutal civil war in 2012, up to 330,000 civilians have been killed and millions more displaced and forced to flee their homes.

    The government of President Bashar Assad brutally crushed a popular uprising and has been battling western-backed rebels ever since. Incidences of chemical weapons attacks on civilian areas have occurred on a number of occasions. Regime-linked and paramilitary groups routinely carry out indiscriminate bombings of civilian areas, massacres and kidnappings. Last Thursday a car bomb killed at least 20 people in a crowded market place.

    The entry of Russia - who support Assad - into the conflict and the presence if Islamic State in the country are signs the violence will only continue.
  • 6 Afghanistan - 1,224 (6%)
    Afghanistan continues to be ravaged by sectarian violence as western-backed government forces fight a 14-year-long Taliban insurgency.

    Afghan force were forced to repel the Taliban from Ghazni, just south of the capital, Kabul, raising fears of a revitalised insurgency in the face of the drawdown of Western forces.

    There is endemic discrimination against women and girls. After seizing the northern Afghan city of Kunduz last month, Taliban fighters went door-to-door hunting for women's rights advocates and journalists. Afghanistan has the twelfth highest infant mortality rate (70 to every 1,000 live births) in the world, some three million drug users, and a literacy rate of 38.2%.
  • 7 Albania - 996 (5%)
    Generally, Albanian asylum applicants in Europe are economic migrants fleeing a stagnant economy with few job prospects. Most are denied asylum and swiftly sent back.
  • 8 Nigeria - 862 (4%)
    Nigeria is facing a sustained insurgency in the northeast of the country from the Islamist group Boko Haram. A recent report from Amnesty International states 1600 people have been killed by the group since June alone. Just today (14 Oct) seven people were killed in a triple bombing. 100,000 people have fled the country.

    Boko Haram have also become notorious for mass kidnappings and the forced conscription of child soldiers.
  • 9 Sri Lanka - 805 (4%)
    Sri Lanka's 25-year civil war culminated in 2009 with a huge offensive by government forces against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) who had been fighting for an independent Tamil state.

    The group was crushed and many Tamil civilians were killed or displaced in the fighting. Since the civil war ended, those deemed by the state to be loyal to the LTTE have faced continued harassment and attacks.
  • 10 Iraq - 744 (4%)
    The people of Iraq continue to face the destabilising and violent effects of the Islamic State who are battling rebel and government forces in large parts of the north of the country.

    Frequent mass killings include the massacre of more than 600 inmates, almost all Shia, at Badoush prison near Mosul and 1,700 soldiers last year.

    Reports of bombings and attacks on civilian areas are almost a daily occurrence.
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