The Syrian Situation: An Analysis (Part One)
It’s been all over the news, in bar conversation, on your Facebook feed, and perhaps in class too; but what exactly is going on in Syria? Who is striking who? Who is in alliance with who? What’s the war all about? Who is winning? Is anyone winning? What is the Don going to do about it? What’s going to happen next? The seven-year-long conflict began as a result of the 2011 Arab Spring, a social and political upheaval in the Arab world that began with the 2010 Tunisian Revolution and worked its way across North Africa and into many Middle Eastern states. The regime of President Bashar al-Assad from the Syrian Arab Republic was facing much criticism at the time and it escalated when public protests calling for democratic reforms and the release of political prisoners were dealt with violently. It has been widely reported that the initial instance of violence was when Republican forces detained four teenage boys for acts of anti-regime graffitiing, which ultimately led to deaths while in custody. From then on, the situation has escalated into a crisis that has international, and even intercontinental ramifications.
International powers did not become more heavily involved until later on in the civil war but were dragged in with the massive surge in power of the self-styled ISIL. This terrorist group began in 1999 under the name Jama’at al-Tawhad wal-Jihad and in alliance with al-Qaeda, fought in the Iraqi insurgency of the early 2000’s. In 2014 they declared themselves a caliphate and began to refer to themselves as the Islamic State (IS). As a caliphate, they declared themselves to have total religious, political, and military power over the entire Muslim world. As a brutally violent and destructive group, they rapidly gained power and geographic influence during 2014, with an unforeseen and powerful military campaign across the area. This included a fiercely waged battle against the coalition of forces of the Islamic Front and the Free Syrian Army in Aleppo, effectively destroying the populous city. This year also marked a massive increase in Syrian refugees fleeing the country, bringing the crisis to an international stage. A large part of the reason as to why the West was brought into the war was the rapid expanse of the ISIL controlled territories as well as the influx of Syrian refugees across the Mediterranean; this coupled with their brutal style of indiscriminate public executions, acts of barbarity the required international condemnation.