All War and No Peace in Syria

The Syrian crisis is not near to either political or military solution in near future due to the complexities involved in the situation. It under­lines the abject failure of the inter­national community to address the issues of peace and security in the Middle East. A report released by the Syrian Centre for Policy Research in February 2016 documents a grave humanitarian crisis unfolding in Syria. It claims that nearly 470,000 people have been killed and 1-9 million injured since the outbreak of civil war in March 2011. Nearly 45 per cent of the population has been displaced, while life expectancy has dropped from 70 to 55-4 during this period. Education and health infra­structure and services have broken down. A large number of Syrian people have fled the war zone and are either living as refugees in the camps in Turkey and Jordan with meager resources or have migrated to Europe in the life threatening conditions. No analyst, not even the United Nations and other international agencies could foresee that a civil war in a small nation of about 23 million people will take this catastrophic form.

The Syrian crisis started in March 2011 as a spillover effect of Arab Spring, which took many countries under its sway in the Middle East. Arab Spring is a term used for popu­lar uprisings during 2010-12 period against the oppressive and corrupt political regimes of the Arab nations. It started as a democratic uprising first in Tunisia in January 2010 (popularly known as ‘Jasmine Revolution’) and soon engulfed other Arab countries like Egypt (Lotus Revolution), Libya, Bahrain, Yemen and Syria. Small popular tremors were also felt in other states. These popular uprisings led to regime These change in Tunisia,,. Egypt and Libya.

PD/April/2016/82


—Arunoday Bajpai

democratic protests were welcomed by scholars and supporters of demo­cracy as they were expected to usher in democratic process in Arab coun­tries, but soon expectations were belied as regime change was an eyewash as one authoritarian regime was succeeded by another regime of similar nature. The Syrian Civil War epitomizes the despair inherent in the Arab Spring.

In Syria, initially, protesters demanded restoration of certain democratic rights. But the ruling regime of Baser A1 Assad unsuccess­fully tried to violently crush these protests, which became more violent in turn and protesters demanded the ouster of Assad regime. The rebel groups like A1 Nusra Front and Free Syrian Army (composed of those who deserted government forces in sup­port of rebels) got generous political and military support from regional actors opposed to Assad regime like Saudi Arabia, Turkey as well as their western allies like US and other Euro­pean countries. Thus, a domestic civil strife got embroiled in the regional power politics of Middle East. There are reasons for this polarization. After the fall of Saddam Husain in Iraq, the Shia-Sunni fault line has become more pronounced in Middle East. Saddam Husain was a Sunni and the US wanted to install an anti-Saddam Shia government in Iraq, which was tacitly supported by Iran, which is powerful Shia state in the region. The dominant Sunni states like Saudi Arabia, Turkey are opposed to rising Iranian influence in the region. For the same reason they are also opposed to the Shiite Assad regime of Syria. In a nutshell all nations and groups in the region are aligned along the ShiaSunni fault line. While all Sunni states of the region are opposed to Assad regime of Syria, Shiite groups/
counties like Hezbollah and Iran an its staunch supporters.

The internal religious compos: tion of Syria is equally complex. Ou of total 23 million people of Syria Arab Sunnis consist of 60 per cen: Alawite Shias 12 per cent, Kurds per cent, Christians 13 per cent an; others 6 per cent. While majority c; population is Sunnis, the presen: ruling regime of Assad comes froir Alawite religious group of Shia Islam Assad family has maintained tigh: control over security forces, which L- widely resented by majority Sunnis Sunni opposition groups want tc recapture the power from Shias wit; the support of other Sunni Ara: states like Saudi Arabia, Turkey anc Qatar. Similarly, Kurds, comprising – per cent of population and large! concentrated in the northern area; along Turkish border have been pro­testing for long time for discrimina­tion and denial of their cultural anc linguistic rights. Resentment has beer brewing in poorer areas populate; by majority Sunnis. Besides lack or democratic reforms, this demograpk composition defines the contours c: ongoing Syrian conflict. Thus, ever before the present civil protest began Syria was suffering from a hugt democratic deficit and violation c: humarufights of ethnic minorities an: poor majority Sunni community. I was in this background that reflectior of Arab Spring was deeply felt i Syria. The Shia-Sunni divide insid-. Syria and the one in the Middle Eas region sustain and reinforce eac; other. The Syrian civil war is a typica example of no-win situation for either side. The Assad regime, thougr belonging to minority community has the military power of state an: the rebels though belonging to majc- rity community are not united an; well organized and lack sustaine: military capability.

Recent      Developments—Tw

recent developments have further added to the complexity of Syria- crisis. These developments have bee game changers in Syria.

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