Syria in Civil War

According to directoryaah, Syria is a country in West Asia with (2018) 16.9 million residents; The capital is Damascus.

Following the example of other Arab countries, a protest movement also arose in Syria in spring 2011 (Arab Spring). Half-hearted reform attempts by President Assad, including The lifting of the long-standing state of emergency did not prevent the domestic political conflicts from developing into a war along religious-ethnic dividing lines with the participation of foreign actors (Syrian civil war). This reflected the rivalry between the Sunni supremacy Saudi Arabia and Shiite Iran, the Turkish-Kurdish antagonism, Russia’s aspirations for great power and the struggle of an international alliance led by the USA against the terrorist militia Islamic State (IS). The refugee disaster triggered by the civil war particularly affected the Syrian neighboring countries Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon and, from 2015, also countries of refuge in Europe. According to the UN Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), there were around 6.2 million displaced people in Syria in 2018, and around 6.7 million refugees abroad. A large part of the population was dependent on humanitarian aid from abroad, which, however, could hardly be achieved due to the ongoing fighting.

The US and the EU responded to the violence of the Syrian government against the civilian population with sanctions; other countries followed suit. These included an arms embargo, economic sanctions, the freezing of the assets of political officials and entry bans for these persons. In November 2011 the Arab League suspended the membership of Syria. While Turkey also joined the punitive measures, the PR China and Russia prevented an effective sanctions regime against Syria in the UN Security Council. In December 2012 the EU accepted the opposition alliance »National Coalition of Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces« as »legitimate representative of the Syrian people«. In March 2013, the “National Coalition” in Istanbul formed a counter-government recognized by more than 100 countries, which also took over the Syrian seat in the Arab League. Associated with the national coalition was the Free Syrian Army (FSA), the largest military grouping on the part of the insurgents, mostly consisting of Sunnis.

Nevertheless, President Assad held a constitutional referendum on February 26, 2012, which was followed by parliamentary elections on May 7, 2012. Although the war continued, the government-controlled parts of the country held presidential elections boycotted by the opposition on June 3, 2014, which officially confirmed Assad with 88.7% of the vote. On April 13, 2016, regular parliamentary elections were also held.

The war was characterized by great destruction, war crimes and repeated violations of international law on the part of the Syrian government through the use of chemical weapons (from 2013) and through air strikes on hospitals, schools and other civilian facilities. With the military intervention of Russia from September 2015, the situation improved for the Assad regime. With the support of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards and the Lebanese Hezbollah, it was able to recapture territory: Aleppo (2016), Homs (2017), Eastern Ghouta and the Dara Province (2018).

From autumn 2014, an international alliance led by the USA fought against IS, which established a terrorist pseudo-state (“caliphate”) on Syrian and Iraqi territory. With the significant participation of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) with the Kurdish People’s Defense Units (YPG) as the core, the IS was pushed back and militarily defeated by the beginning of 2019; in October 2017 was Rakka his main bastion fallen. The Euphrates now formed an informal border between operations by government troops and the SDF or anti-IS alliance.

International mediation efforts under the direction of the UN to end the war and prepare a political solution were unsuccessful. However, on October 31. In 2019, a committee made up of representatives of the Assad regime, the opposition and civil society convened for the first time in Geneva to work out a new constitution for Syria. The body goes back to an initiative of the UN Security Council in 2015.

From May 2017, agreements between Russia, Turkey and Iran (“Astana format”) were in competition, leading to the withdrawal of opposing groups and ceasefire in so-called de-escalation zones. Basically only the province of Idlib in the northwest remained as a refuge for the insurgents. In addition, in the north, the Turkish army and Arab-Sunni allies, especially parts of the FSA (from 2019 Syrian National Army), penetrated Syrian territory against the autonomous region (»Rojava«) established there by Kurds from 2015: in August 2016 (Operation “Euphrates Shield”), in January 2018 (Afrin, “Operation Olive Branch”) and again, after the US announced that it would withdraw its troops from Syria, in October 2019 (Operation “Peace Spring”).

Syria in Civil War

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