Syrian Civil War
Syria is experiencing a major civil war which has killed more than 18000 people and caused over 40 lacs people to seek refuge in different countries. It has involved US, Russia, European and West Asian countries. The civil war started in 2011 and a resolution is nowhere in sight till date.
Parties engaged in the civil war are:-
1.Syrian armed forces (Supported by Iran & Russia).
2. Opposition forces (US & Saudi Arabia supported).
Modern Syria was established as an independent country in 1946. The Baath party took over in 1970.For the next 30 years Hafez Al-Assad, leader of the Baath party ruled Syria authoritatively, violently suppressing various rebellions. Bashar Al-Assad, his son, took over Syria after the latter’s death in 2000 and continues to rule. Bashar Al Assad ( Alawite) introduced economic liberalization and limited political reforms. Nevertheless, the regime continued to suppress the political opposition. The Syrian civil war is a part of the ‘Arab Spring’ uprising of 2011. In 2011, Syria’s population was 70-74% Sunni Muslim (59-60% Arabs, 9-11% Kurds and 2-3% Turkmen), other Muslims (including Alawites 10%, Shia and Ismaili) made up 16% of the population, Druse 2-3% and various Christian denominations made up 10-12%. There were a few Jewish communities in Aleppo and Damascus as also about 1,500 people of Greek descent. The uprising was against the regime. Though disorganized, the opposition has taken on a sectarian hue, being predominantly Sunni, supported by neighbouring Sunni powers. The pro government sect is the Shia.
Bitter Civil War and Complex Current Situation
Lack of political freedom and economic difficulties were the prime causes of the uprising. Violence and atrocities are being committed by the government forces as well as the opposition. Taking advantage of the situation, ISIS (Sunni terrorist group) is vying to establish its domination as well.
Involvement of Foreign Countries
Iran and Russia, along with the Lebanese Hezbollah party and Syria-based Palestinian groups are economically and militarily supporting the government.
Syrian coalition, opposing the government, receives logistic and political support from major Sunni states in the Middle East, most notably Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia. US, Britain and France provide political, military and logistic support to the opposition. Private groups and individuals have also supported militant opposition forces. The Kurds receive military and logistic support from Iraqi Kurdistan and air support from US, Canada, Britain and France.
The Salafist groups are partially supported by Turkey, while the ISIS receives support from several non-state groups and organizations from across the Muslim World.
- Iran is a big regional power and is supporting the Bashar Al Assad regime with ground forces. Russian Air Force is also supporting him. With this kind of support and considering the state of the opposition it can be concluded that Bashar Al Assad cannot be defeated militarily. US support to the opposition is half hearted.
- A Sunni dominated country is unlikely accept a Shia dominated regime. The neighbouring Sunni dominated countries will keep supporting them. A military resolution of the conflict is unlikely.
- The country’s economy will continue to deteriorate.
- ISIS will keep getting stronger.
- More people will leave Syria and the refugee crisis will further aggravate.
- Global and regional powers will have to bring the warring parties to the negotiating table to reach a political settlement. As of now this kind of settlement appears quite far!