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Ethnic Cleansing By Tribe Is The Syrian Core Reality Today β€” And The Chemical Weapons Use Is Being Done Entirely In That Context

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August 17, 2017

Conflict in Syria

Anyone who does not see how central tribes are to the conflict in Syria is missing the point of that conflict entirely.

The conflict in Syria is not political. It is absolutely not ideological. It is clearly not philosophical and it is not even vaguely economic.

The conflict is entirely, purely, clearly, and obviously tribal. Anyone who looks at that situation and does not understand the role of tribes in that conflict, does not understand what is really happening in that country.

Our news media tries to avoid any mention or notice of tribes in many conflicted settings — and their reporting is deeply flawed as a result of avoiding that tribal reality.

Tribes are the issue and tribes are the context for all of the problematic interactions and conflict in Syria.

People from tribes are killing people from other tribes. The minority tribe that runs the country is very deliberately participating in ethnic cleansing, highly focused intertribal damage and destruction, and even committing geographically linked local genocide for people from other tribes.

The Alawite tribe is killing people from other tribes. People generally refer to what is happening in Syria as being a civil war between two opposing political factions. That political context is wrong and very misleading.

There are no political parties in Syria that are contesting with one another for control of that country. The conflict in Syria is, at its core, the Alawites against the other tribes. We know who all of the tribes are — and we know which side they are each on in that war. The tribes of Syria are each loyal to themselves, and regard anyone from their tribe who is not supporting their group to be a traitor. The InterGroup instinct books all describe the strong and negative reactions we have at instinctive levels to anyone who is perceived to be a traitor.

Inside the Alawite tribe of Syria, we don’t see members of that tribe who hold different political beliefs who are killing other Alawites. The fully armed members of that tribe are not killing each other. They are killing people from other tribes, and the people from each of the other tribes are fighting the Alawites, and fighting the other tribes as tribes.

Because intertribal conflict has a tendency to sink to very low levels whenever tribe related instincts are fully activated — as we have seen in recent times in Kosovo with the Serbs and the Albanians, and in Ruanda with the Hutu and Tutsi — we are seeing behaviors like the mass murders of civilians in the city of Aleppo, and we are seeing the more recent use of chemical weapons against civilians in the city of Idlib.

That evil and bloody behavior feels entirely justified to the people from the attacking Alawite tribe in those settings because they are killing people from other tribes, and our instinctive emotions and values in those kinds of instinct sculpted settings cause us to feel right damaging people from the other groups.

The people from the Alawite minority tribe make up less than 20 percent of the total Syrian population, but the President of the country, Bashar al-Assad, is from their group, and the key members of the secret police and the military leadership are also from that group. They currently run Syria in the best interests of their tribe, and not in the best interest of the other people in that country.

This is not a new set of conflicts for that country. The minority Alawite tribal group of Syria has a long history of conflict with the Sunni tribes that make up more than half of the population. The Sunni tribes have not historically accepted, welcomed, or supported even the existence of the Alawite tribes, and the various tribal groups have damaged each other in multiple ways for centuries.

A number of the most fundamental Sunni religious leaders in Syria and other Sunni settings consider the Alawite variation of the Muslim religion to be a heresy and even an abomination to other Muslims — and there have been explicit calls from some Sunni religious leaders for literally hundreds of years to kill and destroy all Alawites.

There was a brief period of time after the Second World War when Egypt and Syria were one country and there was a period of time when those countries were jointly run by political parties, instead of being governed and run by religious or tribal leaders.

During that historically brief period of time, those countries put in place secular leadership structures and secular governance models that gave great power to the government, and placed the government under the control of civilian parties. The Baathist Party ran both countries — and by a sheer stroke of luck, the head of the Baathist group in Syria at that relatively secular moment in history was an Alawite.

That Alawite leader continued to run the country once it split off from Egypt — and he managed to maintain power over the new country through his political alignment role, even though he was from a minority tribe.

He maintained power for himself and for his tribe in the face of a clear Sunni tribe majority in large part by appealing to the fear of the other minority tribes in the country by saying they would be persecuted and they would very likely be damaged in various ways, if the majority Sunni Tribes actually ran the government, and if the Sunni leaders in Syria implemented their most radical religious beliefs from that position of national power.

The Alawite leader of the country had the unenthusiastic, but direct and ongoing, support of the non-Sunni tribes of the Syrian population for a very long period of time, and he functionally used the intense loyalty levels from his own tribe combined with the lukewarm support from the other minority tribes to stay in power.

The Christian tribes, who also made up about 14 percent of the population, and the Druze and Kurdish tribes who made up about 15 percent of the population have tended to prefer leading their country with a minority tribe Alawite leader who had very low levels of needs to convert them to his religion, or to impose the laws of his religion on them over living in a country led by Sunni fundamentalists who have had a history, in a number of settings in the Middle East when they are in power, of doing things to either oppress people who don’t share their beliefs, or to even kill or expel the people with other beliefs from their own tribal turf.

The fear from the other minority tribes in that country that they might be damaged in some ways if Sunni fundamentalists had supreme power over their entire country is not an unfounded, irrational, or nonsensical fear. Those kinds of damaging behaviors against non Sunni tribes and individuals have happened in several settings when some of the more radical Sunnis have been in power — and some people from other local groups have clearly been damaged in some of those settings when that assumption of power by those particular tribes and that set of religious practitioners has occurred.

Anyone who wonders how much people from other groups might worry about having Sunni leaders in charge of their communities or in charge of their country can look at both ISIS and al-Qaida in several settings as very current proof points of potentially extreme Sunni behavior. ISIS and al-Qaida are both purely Sunni enterprises. Both groups practice a very intentionally pure and fundamentalist version of their religion. Those groups do not accept other kind of Muslim membership and those groups have done things to ethnically cleanse areas and even behead and massacre people from various other tribes when the most extreme set of their forces have gained control over an area.

The actions of the ISIS fundamentalists in multiple settings and the actions of the al-Qaida group to oppress other people when it had full governance control over major portions of Afghanistan has only reinforced that sense of fear on the part of those non-Sunni minority tribes in Syria that they might be treated badly and damaged directly by the majority Sunni leaders in ways that fit the worst set of intergroup behaviors that are too often activated and empowered by our most negatively activated “Us/Them” instinctive behaviors.

Those are not hypothetical or theoretical concerns by members from those other tribes. The clear and highly visible ISIS practice of killing the men and selling girls and women from the Yazidi group in Syria into sexual slavery in the last couple of years because their group holds a different set of beliefs about their religion served as very local and immediate proof point that the fears about what might happen to people from the non-Sunni tribes in Syria if the fundamentalists from the Sunni tribes ran the country.

Tribal Conflict Issues

That set of very clear and powerful tribal conflict issues and concerns explains why a pure dictator and a clearly non-charismatic leader like Bashar al-Assad could stay in power in Syria and it explains why he continues to have support from a significant portion of the population in spite of his clearly dictatorial and oppressive behavior.

The books, The Art of InterGroup Peace and Cusp Of Chaos both explain why those behaviors exist at a tribal level and they explain why those sets of behaviors create their own future intergroup interaction reinforcements. Chapter Two in Cusp of Chaos deals with the Chaos in the world around us that has deep ethnicity roots and impact. Addendum Two in Primal Pathways deals very directly with Tribes and Clans and their ability to steer people into horrible and horrific behaviors.

Chapter Seven in The Art of InterGroup Peace deals with ethnic conflict and the damage it does in multiple countries.

Anyone who looks at those behaviors can see what problems they create and the damage they can do.

Once those sets of negative and damaging intertribal instinctive behaviors begin in any setting, they tend to be both self-fulfilling and self-reinforcing for that setting. The Alawites in Syria have done sinful things from their position of power that have made people from some of the other tribes hate them deeply. The people from the militarily dominant Alawite tribe have had their “Us/Them” instincts fully and clearly activated — and they have done things to members of the other Sunni tribes that were ethics free behaviors that did real and clearly intentional damage to significant numbers of Sunni tribes people.

Barrel bombs, chemical weapons, and mass murders of various kinds have all felt right to people with those sets of activated instincts.

Any time we have those “Us/Them” instincts in gear, we have a tendency to do good things for whoever we perceive to be an “Us” — but we too often do very intentionally damaging, destructive, and even evil things to whoever we perceive to be “Them.”

The “Us/Them” instinct chapters of the InterGroup books explain those behaviors and thought processes and the damage they can do to people.

That level of damaging intergroup behavior has been happening for a number of years now in Syria. People have been oppressed, persecuted, and damaged at a tribal level. Those sins by tribes against tribes are not likely to be forgiven or forgotten — so one major problem that exists today is that the members of the Alawite tribe who hold power today know that they will face retribution at multiple levels if they ever lose that power they hold today over the other tribes in the country.

The future they face has been foreshadowed by similar tribal scenarios in other countries where those levels of damage have occurred. The Hutu Tutsi examples of intergroup revenge are all too obvious and all too recent for the Alawites to both know and fear. The Alawite tribe members in Syria believe that if they now lose power, they will almost certainly face revenge empowered attacks, significant group level punishment, and some combination of expulsion and potential direct genocide as a tribe because they have done so many evil things themselves to people from other tribes.

The Aleppo damage, alone, would be cause for significant revenge from the people who were damaged there. Chemical weapons and barrel bombs have been used against women and children in intentionally evil ways, and all of the people in Syria know who did what to whom.

That threat of being damaged as a group if they ever lose power as a tribe is highly motivating as a reason for the Syrian Alawites to stick together and to support Assad in holding some level of power over the other groups over the other groups in that country in perpetuity.

They can’t agree as a tribe to any future setting or any future governance model that would make the entire country a democracy, because they are a minority tribe and would lose any election and they believe that the people who hate them today would get revenge on them once they are out of power.

The other non-Sunni minority tribes in Syria today are faced with a “lesser of two evils” choice. Are they better off supporting Assad and allowing his dictatorship to continue — or would they do better as tribes facing a future where the country might be led by the Sunni majority group? That is not, actually, an easy question for the people from those tribes to answer.

People from those other Syrian minority tribes have understandable reasons to fear that any new Sunni majority government that forms might become radicalized — and they have reason to worry that someone like the ISIS or al-Qaida leadership from the Sunni tribes might do their own form of genocide in the future against each of the minority tribes as a group of tribes.

The Alawites are extremely aware of their precarious situation. Knowing that their future survival as a tribe and knowing their personal survival as individuals depends on not losing power to the Sunni tribes in their country, the Alawites and their current allies are doing extreme things to keep that future from happening. People do extreme things when they hate other tribes and people do extreme things when they believe their own group survival is at stake.

So the Alawites are now trying to create future safe zones. They are very intentionally going through a process of ethnic cleansing for targeted parts of the country. The carnage seen in Aleppo is a purely intentional part of that ethnic cleansing strategy. They are killing civilians from other tribes in horrible ways and forcing them from their homes because they want people from the other tribe in some areas to be gone — and both death and exile accomplish that goal of the other people being gone.

Death for people from other tribes is even better than exile for the Alawite tribe — from a purely functional perspective — because enemies can return from exile and enemies are less likely to return from being dead. So the Assad forces are killing a number of people now in some settings to keep them from wanting to return home later.

Poison gas and chemical weapons were used earlier in the conflict. That was temporarily stopped, but other kinds of cruel and damaging anti personnel bombs have been aimed very directly at civilian populations and directed at destroying and damaging hospitals and other care sites, and there seems to be some evidence in this week’s news media that those chemical weapons are being used again.

It is beyond doubt that they have been, in fact, using barrel bomb in some attacks. Those barrel bombs are not being dropped on anyone from their own tribes. They are being dropped in all cases on people from the tribes they want gone — and the goal is to kill and cripple people from those tribes and to cause them to leave both their homes and the country.

A goal of that entire process is to create refugees. Refugees are not a side product or an accidental consequence of those conflicts. Creating refugees is a clear goal of those people who are damaging people to the critical point where they finally flee and become refugees.

Those intertribal, highly targeting, deeply damaging behaviors create the massive surge of refugees out of that country. That flow of refugees is very intentional. The Alawites — with direct and complicit support from their Russian and Iranian Shia allies — are expelling people from other tribes, and they are doing it in ways that damage other Sunni countries in the Middle East, and in ways that damage all the countries in Europe where the refugees seek shelter.

Europe has a flood of refugees from Syria. Creating that flood of refugees into those countries has been a deliberate part of the strategy of Assad and the Alawites.


Those refugees weaken other Sunni countries and they also weaken the various European countries where they flee for refuge.

That weakening of those countries plays into the hands of the Russians and the Shiite Muslims from Iran who also support the Alawite tribe as a tribe, and who encourage and welcome the creation of a flood of damaging and dysfunctional refugees into both the Sunni countries and the European countries.

Russia is playing a very deliberate intertribal game in Syria. Russia knows the Alawites need Russian support to survive as a tribe — so Russia is providing military help, and Russia will clearly receive future military bases as a reward and a strategic and functional benefit. Russia understands the tribal issues with great and deep levels of understanding, because Russia, itself, is a multi tribal country with multiple levels of internal tribal conflict and dissonance and the Russian leadership knows how powerful those forces can be when they are activated.

Cusp of Chaos has a long section on the ethnic and tribal conflicts and disruption that resulted from the end of the Soviet Union, and that continue to exist in Russia, today. Cusp of Chaos is available for free reading on this website.

Russia is also trying to free members of it’s own tribe from the Ukraine — and has been supporting the ethnic Russian rebels in both The Ukraine and Crimea. Those conflicts could not be more tribal. They held an election a couple of years ago in the Russian speaking Crimea territories, and that local election ended with Russia claiming the Crimea as part if its own territory. The local ethnic Russians did, in fact, want that outcome to occur.

The Russians have similar or identical aspirations for the other Russian speaking parts of The Ukraine.

Russia now believes it made a mistake when it ended the Soviet Union and did not keep the pieces of the Ukraine that speak Russian and are part of the Russian tribe as part of Russia. They allowed the Ukraine to own that part of the country — but they did it with a clear agreement that the people who lived there could continue to use the Russian language in their schools and government.

When new leaders in The Ukraine later, with some possible and potentially mischievous encouragement from people in the U.S. government, told those ethnically Russian sections of their country that they could no longer use Russian as their language for governance or schools in spite of the independence day agreement that guaranteed that right to speak Russian indefinitely, those people rebelled — and their rebellion has been both overtly and covertly supported by mother Russia. That behavior could not be more tribal by all parties in that setting.

President Putin cannot tell the truth, however, about what he is actually doing in the Crimea and the Ukraine because he does not want to make ethnic self-determination a legitimate demand for Chechnya and for the 50 other significant ethnic groups under Russian control. He does not want to support or empower or encourage other minority ethnic groups inside of Russia who are now controlled by Moscow, but who would like more autonomy so he very intentionally does not does explain clearly what he is doing for his tribe in The Ukraine.

Putin isn’t trying to randomly take over other turf in other countries. He is just as tribal as the situation in Syria. He is defending and expanding tribal turf. He is not invading the parts of the Ukraine that don’t speak Russian. But he can’t admit his real goal of helping his own tribe achieve local ethnic autonomy without empowering and legitimizing another 50-100 separatist groups inside Russia. Chapter Eight from Cusp of Chaos features some of those conflicts.


In Syria, President Putin understands the tribal realities really well and he knows that he can now gain and maintain major leverage with the Alawites at a point in their history where they need his support and his military resources to avoid genocide and punishment for their tribe.

He has very strong cards to play with the Alawites. Very few things are more motivating for any group of people than the desire to avoid genocide that will be directed at you and your group.

So we need to figure out how to make sense of all of those factors — and we need to do the right things now to stop both the massacres and to stop the flood of refugees into other countries that is damaging so many European and Middle Eastern countries.

We need to begin by recognizing that Syria really does not make sense as an intact nation. Syria is an historical accident. It should not be a country. Syria has extremely and perpetually divisive internal components and there is no natural and historical reason for Syria as a nation to exist with its current boundaries.

It is very hard in the real world to split counties into pieces. We all have strong packages of instincts that work in favor of keeping countries intact even when the countries make no functional, ethnic, or operational sense as a national entity.

Leaders of all countries in the world tend to hate it when any country either splits up or allows any significant internal ethnic or internal tribal autonomy. People in Alpha positions for national governments in all countries will fight to the death to defend the borders and the boundaries of their own nations — and the collective leaders of all nations tend to go to great lengths to force even the most absurd and the most obviously non nonsensical and artificial national configurations to continue to exist as countries.

Spain does not want to encourage either the Catalans or the Basque to seek self-governing autonomy. Both Primal Pathways and Cusp of Chaos have chapters that explain why that is true.

There are many other similar multi-ethnic national situations where minority tribes would like the self-governance described in the Cusp of Chaos. Those realities make it very hard for some nations to function, but the total patterns of behavior by Alpha national leaders who each run their own sections of the world make it even harder for nations to split up.

The Sudan was obviously a completely nonsensical nation with internal warring groups who hated and killed one another as groups — and The Sudan was finally split into two pieces after huge intergroup bloodshed — but even that extremely obvious division in that country happened against the wishes of multiple other countries.

They actually did not go far enough with that split. With the perspective of actual experience in The Sudan, we now know that the country would have been much more likely to end local conflict and achieve long term Peace if The Sudan had split into three countries instead of two. Tribal warfare there, today, is still deeply damaging people and will continue to damage people as long as tribes that hate one another are forced to function inside the boundaries of that country.

One of the new countries that emerged in that setting is full of people who are killing people from other tribes — and that conflict and damaging behavior should be fixed by allowing those tribes split into the right pieces and to allow the right pieces to govern themselves.

Instead, we see massive bloodshed and extremely evil and cruel intergroup behaviors.

Syria functionally and clearly needs to go down a similar path to the Sudan division. The Alawites of Syria should obviously not be in a country with the Sunni Tribes. There is no possible positive future would require those people who are killing each other today in large numbers and who have been in conflict with each other by tribes for centuries to continue to function as a single nation in the years ahead.

Inside Syria, the Kurds and Alawites both very much need to achieve their independence. Kurds are oppressed in multiple countries. That tribe is oppressed and attacked regularly inside Turkey — and it has been oppressed for centuries in Iraq. The Kurds of Syria already have functional tribal control over their tribal lands — and that control should be made official with official governance status granted to the Kurds over those lands.

The Kurds of neighboring Iraq now are also semi autonomous, and they function today well in that country as a clear and unique force for Peace and they create non-conflict in their sections of that also deeply troubled intertribal setting.

The future status of the Kurds in each of those settings is, however, at risk because Turkey is a hugely powerful country and the Turks want to keep oppressing and controlling the Kurds who live inside their boundaries. The Turks do not want the Kurds inside Turkey to be encouraged or empowered by any perceived or real Kurdish autonomy in any other settings. Cusp of Chaos has a section about the Kurdish history and dilemma that points out those problems and their likely future directions.

Because leaders of countries with their Alpha instincts fully activated hate deeply ever giving up any piece of the group turf, the Turks currently hate the Kurds more than they hate ISIS — and Turkish leadership can be counted on to act accordingly.

Syria is totally tribal at the core of its conflict — and Turkey is equally tribal at the core of its sense of who it is and what it needs to control.

The challenge will be to allow Kurdish autonomy at some functional level in Syria without having that autonomy threaten Turkey. Allowing local Kurdish autonomy needs to be done to create Peace in Syria, but it will not be easy.

The Kurds, of course, are not Sunni — so they are a perfect ally for anyone who is fighting either ISIS or al-Qaida forces. They have been very useful recently for the Peace process in taking back some cities and towns that ISIS has over run.

To the people who do not want to break Syria into Peaceful and manageable tribally aligned pieces, we need to ask a very important and very basic question — why do we continue to allow Syria to damage so many other countries with the spillover from their internal tribal war?

Why should we continue to allow one minority tribe in Syria to continue to dump millions of refugees from other tribes into Europe and into the Middle East to weaken and damage multiple other counties, and why should we continue to allow the Alawites to ruin the lives of all of those refugees from the other Syrian tribes?

The refugees, themselves, would rather stay in Syria. They are not fleeing to Jordon and Paris because they prefer to live in either setting. They would much rather stay home — and the people of Brussels and Paris who are dealing with all of those unhappy refugees have the same preference.

We need a future for Syria that allows the people from those tribes to avoid becoming refugees — and we also would be very well served if we created an environment where people who are involuntary refugees now could return either to their homes or to other sites in Syria to be with people who share their culture and function as a kind of “Us” at important levels.

The Alawites clearly need a safe haven that they can call home and where they can avoid being killed. We should not allow or enable genocide for that group and the truth is that the members of that tribe are clearly well armed and will not accept any future that involves them being punished or killed for their prior behaviors.

We probably need to allow the leader of that group to continue as the leader. The support we see from those people today for the Government of Assad clearly is not about simply protecting Assad. He is probably not loved as a leader. He is supported as a leader by his group because if he is not in power over the county, other people in his tribe believe they will be in major trouble…and that is a legitimate concern given what those people have done to people from other tribes in Syria in the past several years.

The horrific bombing of civilians from other tribes by Alawite military forces calls out for intertribal revenge — so the Alawites will need turf they control in functional ways that will keep them from being subjected to that revenge.

There also needs to be on going safety for the Christian tribes and the Druze tribes of Syria. That set of Syrian minority tribes could become one new nation and could function as a confederation, with each piece having some self-governing roles and authorities.

They also might want to be tied in some functional and safe way to the Alawite section of the new nation — since they have been allies together in the past against the majority Sunni tribes and fundamentalist threats.

The Kurds clearly need their own autonomy and they should be given the ability to determine their own future as a group with their own turf and local autonomy. That could also be tied in some ways as a self-governing confederation to the Alawite tribal territory if that kind of link under a confederation umbrella and a Syrian confederation flag is needed to keep Turkey from invading that Kurdish turf.

We Americans have long standing relationships with the Kurds and we could help create an umbrella and process to make that happen.

We could also give guarantees to Turkey that the new area would not be a threat to Turkey in some way.

The rest of the country needs to be melded into a Sunni nation that is a functional confederation of the legitimate and historic tribes that have been the real core identity of those people for centuries. We need to very explicitly do that work of bringing the other groups in Syria together by tribe — each using their traditional tribal turf. Let the traditional tribal leaders continue to lead their tribes.

Each of the tribal leaders needs to have a level of autonomy over their tribal turf — just like the tribal leaders and groups in Switzerland today have a level of autonomy over those Swiss tribal turfs. Switzerland, today, is a confederation of local tribes.   Cusp of Chaos explains how the Swiss took their three very separate tribes and created a Peaceful nation by giving each tribe it’s Cantons to run. That model has worked for the Swiss for a very long time.

We need “Cantons for Syria”

We need “Cantons for Syria” — with a transition period for the governing process for the new Sunni confederation that is overseen by Egypt, Jordon, and Saudi Arabia to make sure that the transition is done in ways that create safety for people from all tribes relative to the people from each tribe.

Those relatively powerful and relatively geographically close Sunni tribal countries could provide an umbrella for that new Sunni confederation in Syria and could do that in a way that keeps the most radical Jihadists from running those governments. Jordon might serve as a trusted governance role for those Sunni tribes.

The remaining Alawite and Christian areas of Syria could be set up as a confederation with oversight and support from Russia and Iran. Putin has actually begun to have some connections with the Christian leadership of his own country, so having him serve as the patron of the Christian tribes in Syria is not as big a stretch as it might have been a decade ago.

That approach gives us a better chance of dealing with the radical Jihadist groups and their power base. That new governance approach of having tribes run their own tribes will deal entirely and much more effectively with the role of ISIS and other Jihadists in that country. Their power will be minimized — because the tribal leaders will want to run their own groups, and will tend not to want ISIS in their areas of control. The tribal leaders and traditional tribal hierarchies will be able to achieve their own autonomy from ISIS if their tribes people are not being attacked themselves by either Alawites or Shia, and feel that they need ISIS or something similar to defend them against the Shia.

Those parts of Syria will not be able to go down that path to legitimate and self-governing internal component parts alone. They will need help. Other major countries who want to achieve Peace in that setting can provide that help. There are some obvious parties who could, and should, be part of that process. An overarching macro alliance of the U.S., Russia, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Jordon could be created with a clear set of shared goals to facilitate that process — with each of the major players helping to steer and support their own relevant pieces inside Syria.

The United States should and could work directly with Russia to broker that deal. They should probably involve the Egyptians, Jordanians, and Saudis in that process to give the Sunni tribes peace of mind and to give those tribes leaders who can put the pieces together in the context of a Sunni confederation of Syria.

Each group in that set of players has needs. The Alawites need the Russians. The Kurds need the Americans. The Sunni tribal leaders want to control their own destiny, people, and turf — and want to go forward in Peace and local prosperity rather than facing a future of perpetual conflict and radical actions that damage real people with no possible positive outcome. The other Sunni nations can help those Syrian Sunni tribes create an umbrella for that future.

To create Peace in Syria, we need people to stop pretending that the situation in Syria is political or ideological or even economic.

It is tribal.

Tribes are the problem. So we need to make tribes the solution.

A similar model might actually work well for Iraq — because that country also clearly does not work well as a country. Similar approaches could be extended in future years to other countries like Nigeria, where the tribal groups clearly face many challenges functioning as a nation, and where future Peace would be much more likely if the parts of that country that are natural allies, each were allowed to govern themselves in ways that make historical and functional sense. Both Cusp of Chaos and The Art of InterGroup Peace have guidances and approaches that could help with those agendas.

But that is for the future — and the crisis we need to fix now in order to end the bloodshed, and to absolutely stop the horrible and damaging flow of Syrian refugees.

Syria will continue to create a lot of damage in Europe and to local Sunni countries if we do not fix that problem in ways that stop the creation of refugees as an ongoing process. The solutions that make the most sense require us to know both what is happening in Syria today, and to have a clear sense of which parties in Syria need to be part of any solution.

Tribes are killing tribes in that country. Kurds, Allawites, and other tribes are killing each other every day. We need to turn the tribes into instruments of Peace rather than weapons of War.

Tribes need to be the tools we use to solve the problems in Syria that the tribes are now very clearly creating.

Russia and Iran can continue to exacerbate the fighting — or those countries can help us tee up the solution.

Peace is the better answer. The right pieces are there.

Let’s make it happen.