Syria, a country which is in news these days due to civil war, Millions are affected in this war and this war has not came to an end yet. Let’s have a look at Syria’s disastrous fate and the reasons behind it.
Syria is a Western Asian country with about 23 Million inhabitants. It shares border with 5 countries, Lebanon, Turkey, Iraq, Jordan and Israel. It also shares its border with the Mediterranean Sea to the west. A country with fertile plain land, high mountains, oil and gas resources and desserts is home to the various ethnic and religious groups, mainly Arabs, Greeks, Armenians, Assyrians, Kurds, Circassians, Mandeans and Turks. Which are further divided into various religious groups like Sunnis, Christians, Alawites, Druze, Mandeans and Yazidis. Major religious group is Sunni Arabs.
The Syria was formed after World War 1. It gained independence on 24 October 1945 by becoming founding member of United Nations, which ended French mandate. But French troops didn’t left the country until April 1946. It was largest Arab state emerged from Ottoman ruled Arab Levant. The post-Independence period of Syria was not good as military coups created riotous conditions and shook the country from 1949-1971.
The Arab Republic of Syria came into being in late 1961; the Ba’ath Party has maintained its power. Hafez al-Assad was a Syrian statesman, politician and general who was Prime minister from 1970 to 1971 and President from 1971 to 2000. He was appointed as Commander of the Syrian Air Force in 1966, and then he took part in second coup, toppled the traditional leaders of the Ba’ath party and brought a radical military faction headed by Salah Jadid to power. The he got appointed as Defense Minister, In 1970 Assad seized power by toppling Jadid, and appointed himself the undisputed leader of Syria in the period 1970–71.
When he took power, Assad instituted one-man rule and organized state services into sectarian lines (the Sunnis becoming the formal heads of political institutions, while the Alawites were given control over the military, intelligence and security apparatuses). The formerly mutual powers of Ba’athist decision-making were truncated, and were transferred to the Syrian presidency.
The Syrian government ceased to be a one party system in the normal sense of the word, and was turned into a one-party state with a strong presidency. To maintain this system, a massive cult of personality centered on Assad and his family was created. While he started looking for a successor he chosen his son Bassel al-Assad but he died in a car accident in 1994. The second choice was other son Bashar al-Assad, who had no practical political experience. This move was met with open criticism within some quarters of the Syrian ruling class, but Assad reacted by demoting several officials who opposed his succession plan. Assad died in 2000 and was succeeded by Bashar al-Assad as President and Syrian Regional Branch head.
In January 2011 protests were started in Syria. Protestors demanded political reformation and reinstatement of civil rights and end the state of emergency which had been in place since 1963. This protest was largest in decades and Assad’s regime responded it with violence.
The US president Barack Obama on 18 May 2011 signed an Executive order to pressure Assad Regime “to end its use of violence against its people and begin transitioning to a democratic system that protects the rights of the Syrian people.” After pressure from EU and Canada on 20 June, Assad promised a national dialogue toward reform, new parliamentary elections and more freedoms. He urged refugees to return home and blamed the unrest on conspiracies by Syrian Opposition.
The armed opposition consists of various groups that were formed during the course of the conflict, primarily the Free Syrian Army, which was the first to take up arms in 2011, and the Islamic Front, formed in 2013. In 2013, Hezbollah entered the war in support of the Syrian army. In the east, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), a jihadist militant group originating from Iraq, made rapid military gains in both Syria and Iraq, eventually conflicting with the other rebels. By July 2014, ISIL controlled a third of Syria’s territory and most of its oil and gas production, thus establishing itself as the major opposition force.
By July 2013, the Syrian government was in control of approximately 30–40% of the country’s territory and 60% of the Syrian population. A United Nations report in late 2012 described the conflict as being “overtly sectarian”, between mostly Alawite government forces, militias and other Shia groups fighting largely against Sunni-dominated rebel groups, although both opposition and government forces have denied it. Due to foreign involvement, this conflict has been called a proxy war. Over 75 groups are fighting with each other. Many countries are trying to take benefit from this war, by providing the funds and ammunition to both all sides. Newly formed ISIS is killing minorities and Al-Qaida is also working on its own front. Many believes that intervention of America, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Russia is major culprit behind the long term war.
As of January 2015, the death toll had risen above 220,000, with estimates in April 2015 as high as 310,000. International organizations have accused the Syrian government, ISIL and other opposition forces of severe human rights violations, with many massacres. Chemical weapons have been used many times during the conflicts. In addition, tens of thousands of protesters and activists have been imprisoned and there are reports of torture in state prisons.
The severity of the humanitarian disaster in Syria has been outlined by the UN and many international organizations. More than 7.6 million Syrians have been displaced, and more than 4 million have fled and continue fleeing to countries such as Greece, Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Egypt as refugees. Millions more have been left in poor living conditions with shortages of food and drinking water.
Many organizations are helping these civilians with shelter and food. The large area of dessert has been changed into refugee camps and thousands of affected children and families are living in poor conditions. Many cities have been engulfed in a wave of crime as fighting caused the disintegration of much of the civilian state, and many police stations stopped functioning. Rates of theft increased, with criminals looting houses and stores. Rates of kidnappings increased as well. Rebel fighters were seen stealing cars. The U.N. commission investigating human rights abuses in Syria confirms at least 9 intentional mass killings in the period 2012 to mid-July 2013 by the rebels and authority. Approximately 6,000 women have been raped (including gang-rape) since the start of the conflict – with figures likely to be much higher given that most cases go unreported.
The surrounding countries also have some domestic issues and additionally they are facing spills from Syria.