Starve or Surrender: Sanctions as a Siege Warfare Strategy in the Syrian Conflict

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Mohammad Kanfash


Economic sanctions increasingly represent the foreign policy tool of choice for governments and international organisations seeking to address some of the world's most pressing political and security challenges. While framed as a peaceful tool of international governance, sanctions have the potential to be as lethal as conventional warfare with severe anguish and suffering for targeted population. Taking Syria as a case study and conceptualizing sanctions as a siege warfare, the article investigates the humanitarian harm that sanctions have imposed on Syrian civilians. The article demonstrates how sanctions have damaged the welfare of innocent civilians and undermined their access to food, water, and medical care. It also shows the limitation of humanitarian exemptions and argues that sanctions run contrary to their stated goals.

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