Understanding The Syrian Conflict

Posted on July 22, 2013 in GlobeScope

By Shelly Mahajan:

Over two years of civilian unrest, the future of 2.5 billion children lies in darkness. More than 90,000 casualties and millions displaced, a political game deteriorating refugee crisis and a new dose of chemical weapons is the price Syria is paying to dream of a future with newer possibilities for its young Syrians.


Since 2011, Syria has been clasped in a serious turmoil that resists to slowdown, with Assad regime refusing to quit. Most of us have read in tit-bits about Syria’s ongoing quest for liberty. We have seen how the country rose to centre stage in the aftermath of the revolutionary Arab Spring.

Today, the civil war continues amidst a deadlock, both domestic and international in nature. The crisis has slowly been hijacked by militant groups like al-Qaeda linked Jabhat al-Nusra and Iran’s Hezbollah. Syrian membership has been shown the exit door at the Arab League. Different opposing groups have come together forming an alliance recognized by over hundred nations sans Russia and China. Coalition’s recently elected president stepped down in absence of international hold up. Fellow Arabic nations like Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar continue to serve the opposing side with arms. United Nations’ peace agreement called the ‘Geneva Plan’ proposed by its special envoy to Syria Lakhdar Brahimi, has failed to render any negotiation between the opposing factions despite having support of the entire international community. Very precisely, the situation remains embroiled.

Syria’s case is like of any other Middle Eastern nation struggling to free itself from the clutches of a monarchical regime that has chosen to ignore its people’s fury for decades. A clear case of pro-democracy rebellion against an insensitive establishment, nothing new for world’s hundred years of war fed history. However, Syrian crisis offers certain disturbing takeaways that are difficult to ignore.

Syrian uprising, unlike when it started two years back, can no more be taken in the euphoric sense considering the atrocities committed every day in and out. The possibility of the democratic euphoria ending in a majoritarian hubris cannot be ruled out keeping in view that those leading the protests may not be the best at leading the nation together. Egypt, that recently experienced a regime change, is itself in doldrums over the rights of individuals. In Libya, even out of Gaddafi’s oppressive grip, change has been slow and continues to lack a full-fledged government. An awakening of the masses if left in the hands of fundamentalist few will be highly demeaning.

Another important fact is the role of Russia and China. UN’s two permanent members continue to use their multiple vetoes to block any international response to oust Assad’s regime. Such obstructionism is not only an example of indifference to Syria’s humanitarian loss but UNSC’s long pending reform, whose absence has failed UN several times as an international peace-making body.

Lately, the Sunni-Shiite divide is gaining prominence with Turkey, Saudi Arabia and the Persian Gulf countries siding on the opposing side and Shiite dominated Iran and Iraq supporting Assad’s hold. This is a clearly dividing repercussion on the regional scenario that can certainly lead up to a proxy war like situation.

Further, situation of refugees has worsened. With Morsi’s ouster, Syrian refugees in Egypt who, under his leadership, were welcomed and given every possible support are now facing a tough time and defamation. There are increased instances of refugee flows, sectarian conflict and transnational violence plaguing the region. Sanctions, especially the oil embargo imposed by US and Europe though targeted at weakening Assad’s regime, have damaged the country’s economy and meanwhile have several consequences for the civilian population.

A movement that was started to sketch a better future for the Arabic nations may not necessarily serve as a departure point of the autocratic rule for million hopefuls. The conscious effort is slowly digressing towards a future that may only be a reflection of the past. It is indeed a warning signal.