Did you know that the infamous Syrian civil wars and humanitarian crises were sparked by a group of teenagers who had a peaceful protest against their totalitarian president? Not many people know this.
The massive bombing, levelling missiles and the ever smoke-filled Syrian wars that you have been hearing about for the last nine years, started as innocent as a peaceful demonstration. Curious, right?
How did the war start?
In the wake of 2011, the Arab spring the anti-government protest that started in Tunisia had now blown out to countries populated by Arabs in the middle east and north Africa.
As opposed to countries like Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Yemen that managed to topple over the repressive government, Syria was among the countries that were faced with rebellion from the government.
The Assad family that had been in power for close to a decade was not ready to relinquish control or lift the oppressive hand from its citizen. As a result, the country that was populated with 21,362,529 citizens at 2010 turned their country into a war ground since the 15th of march 2011 to date. Ever since the situation has been worsening with counts of citizens being at the losing edge. Again, instead of having the country explore its natural resources and develop its economy, all resources are used to fund the wars which are indeed targeted to its citizens.
Who is fighting who?
As earlier denoted, the civil wars started as repulsion of the demonstration on the Assad regime. With over 6.2 million citizens displaced, hundreds of thousands wounded and others dead, it has caught the globe’s eye that Syria has continued the said civil war for almost a decade. To understand why they keep on fighting, you need to have perfect knowledge of the people involved in this long-termed war.
The nine-year-old war has seen an assemblage of players. All have been at arms fighting for power to rule Syria. The players include the Bashar al Assad’s regime, the PYD party, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria and counts of armed and sometimes radicalised rebels. They include retired army personnel, warlords, and even foreign jihadists. But if you give it an analytical look, each of these players are armed with their selfish objective at heart.
The following are some of the four main reasons that have intensified the war situation in Syria
1. Assad’s leadership
Assad’s regime has been characterised by flaws such as corruption and oppression to its citizen. However, Assad has been reluctant to change or to relinquish power and control over Syria to a democratic leader. Instead, he has organised a series of hit backs to oppose the efforts of his contenders in matters to do governance.
In his relentless efforts to keep the throne, he has driven his statesmen to seek asylum in neighbouring countries as others die due to injuries, hunger and the frigid temperatures being experienced in the country
2. Internal political competition
As for the Al Assad’s regime and the never-ending rebel groups that range from local warlords to the foreign sympathisers; they are seeking control over different provinces and ultimately targets to have one of them control the country. As for their counterparts, the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD), (which has the full support of armed YPG and YPJ) and the Islamic State of Iraqi and Syria (IS) are competing to win more and more followers. The PYD wants to conquer more territories on their side so that they can enforce a new form of governance.
3. Availability Interstate and international backing of regime and rebels
While at war, the country has caught the attention of not only the neighbouring countries but both regional and foreign sympathisers.
As for Assad’s regime; Russia, Iraq and Iran have offered collaboration to the presidential agenda. Recently, Putin, the Russian president, activated air war that played a significant role in countering the opposition that had partaken Idlib. In addition to that, Iran has offered patronage to Hezbollah, a Lebanon militia.
On the other hand, the opposers of the throne have not fallen short of support. USA, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar have equally supported them.
4. Political agenda of the supporters.
Support and collaboration have been accepted by the regime, rebels and the opposition; queries have been raised on whether the help is genuine or to just aimed to propel political interest of the said states.
For instance, While Russia has been buffering Assad, it’s loyalty has undoubtedly been retaining their political interest in establishing its naval base in Syria. Ideally, this will moor it to the Mediterranean.
At the same time, Kurdish Democratic Union Party has received the supported by the USA whose main agenda is to fight against and calm the radicalised Islamic state groups. The narrative is similar when it comes to Turkey. Apart from supporting their warring neighbour; their main focus has been to keep at bay their sworn enemy PKK. In doing so, they keep manning their territories much eyed by the said sub-group.
In the dawn of the now COVID-19 pandemic, things may take a nose dive into the dark side. Imagine if the virus was to hit the refugee camps?
For starters, they are tiny and squeezed to fit the needs of the asylum seekers. Can we still have the much needed social distancing? How about the facilities and infrastructure to cater for the health needs of the sick and vulnerable? I guess not! This means, more lives would be lost in the pandemic.
Furthermore, if the epidemic hits these areas, the countries where Syrians are seeking asylum are going to experience strained infrastructure as they strive to meet the health needs of their citizens and those of the refugees. Therefore, it would be to the interest of the country and the international community to a ceasefire and prioritise combating the new hidden enemy, COVID-19