Syrian Civil War Enters Fourth Year

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A Pandora’s Box was opened on Middle East in December, 2010. Dissatisfaction, dictatorship, human rights violation, political corruption, economic decline, rising unemployment and extreme poverty served as the catalysts for this uprising. It was called as ‘Arab Spring’ and various political advisors saw this as a major movement towards democratization of Middle East. As a part of ‘Arab Spring’, on March 15, 2011, Syrians started their protests against authoritarian Ba’ath government, demanding economic reform and democracy. President Bashar al-Assad’s loyal military forces, along with the support of countries like Russia, Iran and organizations like ‘Hezbollah’ tried to quell the rebels’ FSA (Free Syrian Army), which was supported, by America, Saudi Arabia and Turkey.

Siege of Homs, Battle of Idlib, Battle of Damascus, Battle of Aleppo, Battle of Raqqa and various other battles have undergone and are ongoing on Syrian soil. Three years have finished since the start of early protests, but this ravaging war machine is still demanding fresh civilian blood. Nations like America and Russia were only busy supplying weapons to the rebels and army and right now their little diplomatic efforts were also put on hold, because the two powers are divided over the ongoing crisis in Ukraine (there is also no oil in Syria). 140,000 people have lost their lives and nearly 2.5 million people have left the country to live the rest of their life as refugees.

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Syria’s neighboring countries have shown incredible generosity to the surging refugees, but it is said that the pressures on their basic services are slowly beginning to show. The government authorities are continuing to blockade several areas, which affects the international NGOs like Amnesty International to deliver aid. The reason said is to root out the rebels, but the real reason is to use starvation as a ‘weapon of war.’ The most affected of the refugee camp is the Yarmuk Palestinian refugee camp, situated in the southern Damascus. 40,000 residents, both Syrians and Palestinians are living in living in worsening conditions in this camp: nearly 60% are malnourished and many have died of hunger, and lack of medical care. In Lebanon, the numbers registered refugees population has reached one million.

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The opposition rebels group is said to have gained more territory than the ruling regime. However, the regime controls the densely populated regions of Syria. After three years of war, the rebel groups are more divided than ever, fighting both the regime and its former ally, ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant). Many western Medias have also termed the civil war as a sectarian conflict, like the Sunni-Shi’ite violence that dominated the middle years of the war in Iraq. Turning this into a sectarian conflict may help America, because it advocates the all-too-familiar story that the religious divisions define people’s identities in this region. ‘Let both parties fight and we will do everything in our power, including arming the opposition, to ensure that our (US, Israel) interests in the region prevail.’ This is the strategy that appeals to these countries, but in reality it is shown that the Syrians hold multiple allegiances, not sympathizing with particular sectarian identity.

The most important goal of Syrians was to stop the state’s brutal treatment and exploitation of the people. Rather than labeling it as a Sunni takeover, the uprising should be seen as a revolt against economic grievances and social injustice. Nonetheless, in these three years, the huge death toll, displacement and internal wars tragically contravene everything the opposition stood for in early days.

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