On March 15th, 2021 it became 10 years since a war which was born out of the Arab Spring with hopes of overthrowing dictator Bashar Al-Assad and wound up becoming something so much more complex, involving several world powers, numerous proxies and militias, as well as the most brutally barbaric terrorist group in modern history (date courtesy of apnews.com ). Thanks to Russia, and the many various battles between different factions, Bashar Al-Assad is still President of Syria. It doesn’t appear he’ll be giving up his position any time soon as long as he continues to have Russia in his corner, at least militarily. The war weary nation dealt with extreme unemployment, severely damaged infrastructure and empty supermarkets in Damascus throughout 2021. Still, Assad actually held a press conference with a hand picked group of Syrian journalists shortly before the tenth anniversary of the calamitous conflict. When one reporter dared ask Assad an unscripted question about the state of his war torn country, security personnel were ready to whisk her away. But Assad being the fair dictator, allowed her question, only to answer it with a ridiculous and extremely vague response about people watching to much television . While Assad hangs on to power by a thread, Iranian militias, most notably Kataib Hezbollah have been stalked and bombed on a number of occasions, unprovoked mind you, by the Israeli Air Force. It seems Neftali Bennett, much like his predecessor Benjamin Netanyahu has no qualms about taking their offensive actions on Iran in a different country altogether. Israeli air raids should be investigated as illegal and against the Geneva Conventions insistence on declaring war on a nation before dropping missiles on any location in that country. But like the United States, it seems international laws don’t apply to Israel and it’s a dangerous precedent the IDF is setting.
Similar to the war in Afghanistan, which went on for 20 years there seems to be no diplomatic solution for Syria either. Turkey extended their borders further into Northern Syria, the Kurdish are still hoping for statehood but likely to no avail and even ISIS has regained some influence inside the country (aljazeera.com). Syria is now a country cut up into different territories, with ISIS losing all their land by 2019 and previous rebel stronghold Aleppo left in virtual ruins, Assad does control the majority of what’s left of his fledgling nation. The problem Assad is facing, besides the familiar deep civilian unrest, is Russia apparently agreed only to support Assad militarily and has no intention or the resources to help him rebuild his country. The US abandoned Syria altogether once it was clear ISIS was soundly defeated.
So the issue remains, how will Assad maintain power? How long before a border battle reignites between Kurdish Peshmerga and Turkish forces? These questions remain unanswered. As I began penning this series a triumvirate of countries including: Russia, Turkey and Qatar met to try and figure out a diplomatic solution to the tragedy of the last ten years (info courtesy of aljazeera.com) Well good luck with that one, as those three nations all have their own agendas not just in Syria but the entire Middle East. None of the countries particularly like each other or share any of the same allies ( well perhaps Russia and Qatar whom both have semi decent relations with Iran). Unsurprisingly the meeting between the trio yielded no plans and certainly no results into expediting the process of a peaceful transition of power, future elections or any end to the violence plaguing the war ravaged country.
The future is bleak, that can’t be argued. A recent New York Times piece on the current status of the last rebel stronghold of Idlib painted a most desperate humanitarian situation and the ever present fear of Russian and Syrian air raids. Assad will remain in power, at least as a Putin puppet, as long as Russian military influence and certain Iranian militias aim to keep it that way. Assad is a murderer, another fact which can’t be debated. But that doesn’t mean indiscriminate bombings by the Israeli air force is doing anything to repair the critical situation in Syria, not to mention the occasional US bombing campaign. According to unrefugee.org, there have been 6.6 million refugees that have abandoned their homes in Syria since 2011. The largest refugee crisis since the end of World War II. According to numbers compiled by the Syria Human Rights Watch over 400,000 civilians have been killed since 2011 and those numbers, as well as the refugee numbers, can never be exact. The decade of catastrophe and war in Syria hopefully, with help from a more peaceful delegation, will end long before the horrifically brutal 20 year debacle in Afghanistan. The Syrian people deserve peace, they deserve liberty, they deserve the right to no longer live in fear of death, bombs and chemical weapons. They shouldn’t need to leave their homes and flee to European countries that has made it painfully obvious their not welcomed. There’s not much optimism on the horizon, but it’s about time that the better suited nations in the world community can come to some sort of agreement to end the killing and let Syria flourish as a peaceful country again.
This 3 Part Series was dedicated to the hundreds of thousands of dead civilians who lost their lives during this ten year catastrophe.
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