What is Syrian conflict?
By Ahmed Khan
Imperialist powers ignited fire in Arab World to delay or push back the awaited revolution or change in regime. They started game from Tunisia in shape of Arab Spring. In this series, they somehow overthrew autocrats in Arab countries, like in Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya. Further they were working on a devised war in Syria, then Lebanon on the other countries were on line to bring obedient set up and lengthen the age of their colonialism.
In Syria, the imperialist powers ignited fire and orchestrated war that has spread very wide and got complicated, hence now it seems adrift to unspecified destination. Here some historical facts are presented to grasp the muddle in Syria:
In 1923 to 1946 the French colonizer had great deal in creation of Syria after the World War – I in the result of Ottoman Empire collapse. At that time, France took control on two states on the east Mediterranean, today known as Syria and Lebanon. This territory was, and remains, quite ethnically and religious diverse.
There are lots of countries whose borders were imposed by European imperialists that manage to do fine for theirs interests, but the point is that the French colonialism set up modern-day Syria in a way that contributed to tension between ethnic and religious groups, which eventually turn into a hotbed of mutiny today. They promoted a minority group, Alawite Shia Muslim intentionally as symbiotic for them on majority Sunnies and world largest ethnic without state the Kurd. Purposely the French preferred Alawities that they rely upon them onward for upholding their dominance on Syria and by this way it will maintain the interests of colonialist.
After disintegration of Soviet Union in 90s decade, the world turned in unipolar. Thus, the America got hegemony on world politics and France also stepped back to some extent and today America is dealing greatly in entire world including Syria but other powers infiltration in this country made all unmanageable.
In March 2011, in the Syrian city Deraa protest took place and it was dealt in bloody way by Assad regime. This time it was backed by imperialist powers directly or was stimulated by them by collaboration of neighboring states, mainly the Saudi Arabia. The Syrian forces killed four protestors in Deraa city but stern action could not halt the violence to spread throughout country, and present strife have historical perspective but it is not abrupt.
In July 2011, an armed force to counter Assad regime was found with name Free Syrian Army. Gainsaid that force was established by imperialist powers though people of Syrian were chagrined by Assad regime and succeeding it was also admitted by United States with its allies for formation. Subsequently, the US also affirmed failure about Syrian rebels to overthrow Assad regime and replace with a puppet government in style of Iraq and Afghanistan.
The imperialist intervention in Syria caused chaos and civil war in country because the fighting which does not have political and socialistic impetus and this flagged a way to the regional religious infuriated people for muster. During August 2011 the Iraq War, one of the worst of several Sunni extremist groups was al-Qaeda in Iraq. The group was so awful that many Sunni Iraqis turned against it, helping to largely (though not completely) defeat the group by 2007 or so.
But by 2011, al-Qaeda in Iraq had begun rebuilding. And it saw the growing conflict in neighboring Syria as an opportunity to gain weapons, bases, and recruits.
In August 2011, AQI leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi sent a top deputy, Abu Mohammad al-Joulani, to Syria. His goal was to set up a new branch of the extremist organization in the country. Joulani succeeded, establishing Jabhat al-Nusra (about which we’ll talk more in a second). Years later, the franchise would divide in two after AQI changed its name to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and asserted total control over Nusra. Some fighters pledged loyalty to al-Qaeda’s central leadership, while others defected to ISIS.
This was all far off in mid-2011. But the fact that ISIS had operatives in Iraq as early as August 2011 illustrates how quickly it recognized that Syria was an opportunity — and just how deep its roots in the country go.
International powers put their fingers in Syria raging proxy war for interests on cost of human lives. On one side, the America and its allies are using Syrian rebels and religious groups by Saudi Arabia, Qatar and other regional countries, and the US also taken on its page the Kurds who are struggling for an independent state. And on the other side, the old player the Russia also came afore in arena of Syria.
In October 2011, as Assad’s crackdown worsened, international condemnation grew. In October, the UN Security Council considered a draft resolution condemning Assad’s crimes — not intervening, not calling for a referral to the International Criminal Court, just condemning. Russia and China vetoed it. When another draft resolution was proposed in February 2012, they vetoed that one too.
This was mainly a Russian initiative. “The perception amongst diplomats in New York was that Beijing was [vetoing] out of solidarity with Moscow rather than commitment to Damascus,” Simon Adams, the director of the Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect, writes in a report on the UN and Syria.
This was part of Russia’s long-running policy of providing Assad diplomatic cover from the world’s outrage, no matter what he did. Moscow had been backing Assad in his war essentially since protests began. In 2011 alone, Russia sold nearly $1 billion in arms to the regime.
Ties between the two countries go all the way back to the Cold War: According to one scholar, the Soviets “essentially built” the modern Syrian military in the 1960s. Continued support for the Assad government yielded the USSR its most reliable ally and proxy in the Middle East.
Today, Syria remains one of Russia’s few reliable allies outside of the former Soviet republics, a vestige of Moscow’s former superpower status and a final military toehold in the Middle East. Russia maintains a valuable naval base today at Tartus, on Syria’s Mediterranean coast, and has sold a number of surplus weapons to Assad. Between 2006 and 2010, 48 percent of Syrian arms imports came from Russia. So Russia has defended Assad to preserve its ally.
But the lengths that Russia has gone to protect Assad show there’s more going on here. To understand that, you have to know the lessons that Russian President Vladimir Putin drew from another Arab Spring uprising that devolved into war: Libya.
In March 2011, Syria was still calm and Russia was formally ruled by Dmitri Medvedev (though Putin, as prime minister, remained powerful). Libya’s uprising looked to be on the verge of terrible violence, and Western countries sought a UN Security Council resolution authorizing the NATO to intervene against government forces. Though Russia typically opposes such interventions, Medvedev abstained on the resolution, allowing it to go through. Russia — and particularly Putin — then watched with mounting horror as the intervention became a war to topple Qaddafi.
For Putin, what happened in Libya was the sum of many of his greatest fears: popular uprisings, collapsing authoritarian regimes, Western interventions, and extremism — all forces that he fears, in another context, could perhaps one day come to Moscow.
“[Putin] imagined the uprising in Libya as simply another step toward a revolution being orchestrated for Moscow.
When protests spread to Syria, an actual Russian ally, Putin was determined not to let what had happened in Libya happen again. He leveraged Russia’s military and diplomatic might to aid Assad in his war against his own people, including, a few months after the Libya intervention, by vetoing the UN Security Council resolution to condemn Assad.
And Russia would stay right alongside Assad every step of the way.
In January 2012, the Syrian revolution did not begin as sectarian. But Sunni extremist groups quickly infected the opposition — with a little help from Bashar al-Assad. In amnesties issued between March and October 2011, he released a significant number (exact counts are hard to know) of extremists held in Syrian prisons.
Assad, it seems, hoped to sectarianize the conflict by boosting Sunni extremists in the opposition — and thus rallying Alawites and Christians to the regime’s cause and deterring international intervention on the rebels’ behalf.
It worked. According to Brookings’s Charles Lister, many of Joulani’s new recruits in Syria came from “individuals [recently] released in a series of amnesties granted by President Bashar al-Assad.”
In January 2012, Jabhat al-Nusra — the new al-Qaeda franchise in Syria — announced its formation, with Joulani at its head. They were effective fighters and, by the end of that year, had linked up with many other anti-Assad rebels.
“When the US State Department designated Jabhat al-Nusra a terrorist organization on December 11, 2012,” Lister writes, “the theme of that week’s Friday protests across Syria was ‘we are all Jabhat al-Nusra.’”
In August 2012, as the conflict got worse, the death toll rose precipitously: As of March 2012, the UN estimated that around 9,000 Syrians had been killed in the fighting. By January 2013, the estimate was up to 60,000.
Much of that can be blamed on the Assad regime’s vicious assaults on civilian-populated areas. Nothing symbolizes that brutality like the barrel bomb, whose first use was reported on August 22, 2012.
Barrel bombs are containers filled with explosives and sometimes metal, dropped from helicopters, often on civilian areas. Regime forces use them to cow the opposition, heedless of the civilian death toll.
“Assad’s indiscriminate use of barrel bombs deep in opposition-held territory means that for many there is no safe place to hide,” Kenneth Roth, the executive director of Human Rights Watch, writes in the New York Times.
While barrel bombs are far from the only way that Assad’s forces kill, the mere fact of their use shows how fully Assad has embraced indiscriminate violence and terror against civilians as a military tool.
By mid-2012, Assad was in serious trouble. He had lost effective control over much of the country, and many analysts believed a rebel victory was looking more likely.
Syria’s alliance with Iran dates back to 1980, and is critical to Iran’s regional strategy. It uses Syria to convey weapons and other goods to its proxies and allies, most notably Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza. In return, Assad’s regime gets military and political assistance from Tehran.
In 2012, Iran responded by sending in Hezbollah to fight on Assad’s side.
“In late 2012, US and Israeli officials received intelligence that the commander of the Iranian Quds Force, Qasem Soleimani, feared the Assad regime was in danger of being defeated by opposition forces,” the Washington Institute for Near East Policy’s Matthew Levitt writes. “Hezbollah would need to become involved in a much greater military capacity in Syria, or Soleimani argued the window of Iranian supplied advance weaponry directly to Hezbollah through Syria would close.”
By that October, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah acknowledged that his fighters were on the ground (though he bizarrely denied sending them). Iran’s support for Assad escalated from there. In early 2013, they were heavily involved in engagements like the al-Qusayr offensive in western Syria, where Hezbollah forces helped turn the tide in the government’s favor.
It’s impossible to say whether Iran’s aid was the only thing that saved Assad from defeat back in 2012 and early 2013. But there’s no doubt that Iran’s assistance has been crucial to Assad — and a major reason the conflict has continued for so long.
In March 2013, after the Iraq War, and maybe earlier, the oil-rich Arab states along the Persian Gulf — particularly Saudi Arabia, the largest and strongest — had been embroiled in a sort of Cold War with Iran. Both sides wish to steer the political course of the Middle East, and see the other as a fundamental threat to their security.
So when Assad began to teeter, the Gulf States saw an opportunity to unseat one of Iran’s principal allies, and started sending arms to the Syrian rebels. Though this had gone on since at least 2012, the Arab League formalized it in March 2013, voting to give all members explicit permission to arm the Syrian opposition. In May of that year, the Financial Times reported that Qatar alone had given $3 billion in aid to the rebels.
But the problem here is that this huge cash infusion didn’t all go to the good guys. Internal rivalries, particularly between Saudi Arabia and Qatar, caused the different Gulf States to pick different Syrian rebel groups to shower with cash. This was devastating, on two levels. First, it fractured and weakened the rebels: “Competition between their networks of rebel groups has been one of the major factors hindering the unification of the Syrian opposition,” George Washington University’s Marc Lynch writes.
Second, it helped extremists. Qatar in particular showered Jabhat al-Nusra with cash, helping the al-Qaeda franchise grow to become one of the most powerful anti-Assad forces in Syria. This, in turn, made it almost impossible for the United States or other interested powers to have any confidence that intervening against the regime would lead to a better Syria. Which is what Assad wanted all along.
In April 2013, something happened that would prove catastrophic for Syria: ISIS and al-Qaeda started breaking up.
ISIS leader Baghdadi had long had tensions with al-Qaeda’s central leadership in Pakistan, and wanted to make sure he could control al-Qaeda’s faction in Syria. But as Jabhat al-Nusra became stronger on the battlefield, it had begun to operate independently from Baghdadi.
On April 9, 2013, Baghdadi declared that Jabhat al-Nusra was part of al-Qaeda in Iraq — and that the new group would now be known as the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, or ISIS. But Nusra’s head, Joulani, refused to join up.
This left ISIS to “gradually emerge as an autonomous component within the Syrian conflict,” according to Lister, by absorbing Nusra fighters and territory in northern and eastern Syria. In February 2014, ISIS was formally exiled from al-Qaeda, making it and Jabhat al-Nusra into enemies.
The competition between the two groups further radicalized the opposition, as there were now two powerful jihadist groups in Syria. And it gave ISIS the freedom to fully implement its hard-line, brutal ideology — and even incentivized it to out-extremist al-Qaeda in a competition for recruits and resources.
Assad, for his part, was perfectly happy to leave ISIS alone, in yet another example of his “encourage extremism” strategy. “ISIS almost never fought the Assad regime.
The full scale of the disaster wouldn’t become clear until about a year later, when ISIS swept into northern Iraq and declared a caliphate in its territory in both countries. But the al-Qaeda/ISIS split was the beginning of a new, even darker period in Syria’s war.
On August 21, Assad’s forces launched sarin gas — a horrifying and deadly chemical weapon — into the Damascus suburb of Ghouta, killing somewhere between 281 and 1,423 people, likely including hundreds of civilians.
It is perhaps the single most infamous event in the Syrian civil war. Morally, it symbolizes the depravity of Assad’s strategy. Politically, it put the international community at a crossroads: Had Assad finally gone too far?
Since early in the uprising, the Obama administration had been calling for the Assad regime to go, but resisted any major efforts to help the rebels. But it had declared chemical weapons use to be a “red line”: If Assad used them, the implication seemed to be, it could trigger an American military response.
But after Ghouta, Obama didn’t seem to want to follow through. He submitted a plan for punitive airstrikes in Syria to Congress, where it was likely to fail.
Meanwhile, Russia was denying that the Syrian government had launched the attack. The Russians, of course, were still supporting Assad: Just that May, they had provided his forces with advanced S-300 anti-aircraft missiles, principally useful for deterring Western airstrikes.
That shows the Russians were still scared by the prospect of an anti-Assad intervention — a fear that explains why Russia got heavily involved in diplomacy after Ghouta. The Russians and the US made a deal: Assad would agree to give up his chemical weapons stockpile if the US backed off the threat of punitive airstrikes.
The chemical weapons deal was certainly a real accomplishment: It significantly lowered the risk of both chemical weapons use and of large deposits falling to ISIS or al-Qaeda. But Syria’s rebels felt betrayed, and came to believe that the US would never fulfill its promises to help them. That’s one of several reasons why subsequent US efforts to work with rebels have failed so dramatically.
In June 2014, ISIS swept northern Iraq, taking the country’s second most populous city, Mosul. That August, it invaded Iraqi Kurdistan, which is a close US partner. This, together with the televised execution of two American journalists, prompted Obama to declare a plan to “degrade and ultimately destroy” ISIS on September 10.
This plan had to involve Syria, where ISIS has a substantial base. But there was a problem: ISIS can’t be dislodged without a ground effort against them, but the US has no allies on the ground in Syria.
Obama created a program for training and equipping friendly rebels, but the plan has been totally botched in implementation. Roughly 54 US-trained Syrian rebels have been fielded, as of August — and about half were quickly killed or captured by Jabhat al-Nusra.
The program’s failures point to the core contradiction in American policy. The rebels overwhelmingly see Assad as their key enemy: ISIS is a sideshow, and Nusra is often an ally. The United States, meanwhile, wants the rebels to focus on fighting ISIS and Nusra, and doesn’t want to help them fight Assad. US and rebel priorities just don’t line up. For another thing, “moderate” rebels have co-mingled with extremists for so long that there’s no longer a clear line.
In period of February to March 2015, the rise of the Kurds and rebel coalition Jaish al-Fatah
It’s always too early for hope in Syria. But in early 2015, there were some signs that the bad guys were in trouble. Both Assad and ISIS lost ground, as this map of territorial changes in Iraq and Syria from January to June 2015 shows:
ISIS lost 9.4 percent of its total territory in both countries, while Assad lost 16 percent of his land in Syria, a staggering decline in just six months.
ISIS’s defeats in Syria are primarily due to Kurdish advances in the country’s north. For months, ISIS besieged the Kurdish town of Kobane — and was repulsed in February 2015, the group’s first major defeat in Syria. Afterward, Kurdish forces, heavily backed by US airstrikes, went on the offensive. By late June, they were on the outskirts of ISIS’s capital city of Raqqa.
Assad, meanwhile, has a lost a lot of ground — including some territory dangerously close to the coastal Alawite heartland. One key reason is a new rebel coalition, founded in March, called Jaish al-Fatah, whose name means the Army of Conquest. Jaish al-Fatah, which includes Jabhat al-Nusra and several other rebel factions, has proven remarkably effective in combat with Assad’s forces. Moreover, per Robinson, “the Assad regime has had trouble, recently, recruiting new members to the military — particularly from the Alawite community.”
But it’s too early to break out the champagne. There’s little indication that either Assad or ISIS is going to collapse imminently. Even if one of them does, Nusra stands to gain the most.
July 2015: Syrian refugee totals crosses the 4 million mark
The four years of fighting and shifting battle lines have been hell for Syria. About 250,000 people have been killed, and roughly 11.6 million people have been displaced from their homes — about half of Syria’s prewar population. Of those, 4 million have been forced out of the country entirely.
These refugees are largely housed in overcrowded and underfunded camps in neighboring countries such as Turkey and Lebanon. With little hope of returning home, many of these families are seeking new lives in Europe. The numbers of Syrians heading to Europe have swelled in the past year and a half. You can see this in the surge in asylum applications, shown in the chart below, which helps to show the crisis’s growing urgency not just for Syrians but for the world:
The journey is expensive, uncertain, and often fatal, as in the tragic case of Aylan Kurdi, the Syrian boy whose body washed up on a Turkish beach. That these Syrian families would risk so much speaks to the horrors they’re fleeing, and to their hopes, however faint, of finding a future for their children.
September 2015: Russia’s military formally intervenes in Syria
In mid-September, a few dozen Russian military jets showed up at an aging military base the country uses in Syria, along with a couple hundred troops to guard them. On September 30, Russia officially launched airstrikes in Syria — its first overt combat operation in the war. The bombings were officially sold as an anti-ISIS operation.
In fact, as the above map shows, the strikes did not target ISIS but rather anti-Assad rebels — many of whom also fight ISIS. These strikes are really just an escalation of Russia’s long-running strategy of propping up Assad, now by bombing his enemies within Syria.
Russia’s offensive isn’t yet a game changer in military terms: These airstrikes, on their own, won’t be able to change the fundamental dynamics of the war. The offensive might even help some rebel groups’ recruiting by inciting outrage among Syria’s Sunni majority. The Russian military is notoriously indifferent to civilian casualties.
The escalation, then, is best understood as an act of fear rather than canny strategy. As Amanda Taub explains, Syria has come to represent all of Putin’s greatest fears about democratic revolution and the expansion of Western influence. He’s determined to try to save Assad, even if it the effort will cost him.
But the escalation isn’t totally irrational. Russia’s basic strategy is diplomatic, not military: It wants to reverse Assad’s international isolation, as well as its own, by positioning Syria and Russia as leading a new coalition against terrorism. That’s why, in an address to the UN General Assembly on September 28, Putin called for an ”anti-Hitler coalition” uniting Russia, the West, and Assad against ISIS and other unspecified terrorist groups (which, in Putin’s mind, likely include the Syrian rebels).
The Obama administration’s response to Russia’s overtures isn’t exactly clear. But Russia’s bombing campaign in Syria is definitely a significant new development — particularly for the Syrian civilians trapped in the crossfire.
Syria turned into a slaughter house for Syrian and they in mid of fear fleeing to strange lands, especially heading to Europe. Some civilized countries welcomed tormented people but onward they may not because no one is willing to tolerate inconvenience in their life for the sake of someone.
Presently, Syrian groups are like dice on chess board in front of world players who have no mercy for innocent citizens but they have fixed eyes on their share and interests in con of religion, modernization, nationalism and in other malicious means.
Special thanks to VOX.com information have been taken in article from site.