THE SYRIAN CIVIL WAR AND ITS EFFECTS In this paper I will speak onthe Syrian Civil War and how it connects to the rise of ISIS.
I will also touchon how this continuing conflict will affect the global stage in future years.To truly begin this paper, I believe itis important to understand the history of Syria. The history of the country plays an important part inwhy the Civil War was able to happen in the first place. There is a great deal ofancient and medieval history in Syria but I am going to start in the moremodern history, specifically I’ll be starting after World War I when Syria wasput under a French mandate. In June of 1920 the SanRemo Conference was held following World War I to decide what to do with certainMiddle East countries. League of Nations mandates were administered and they putboth Syria and Lebanon below a French mandate and put Palestine under Britishcontrol. The French separated Syria into three independent regions, and separatedLebanon from Syria entirely.
Immediately,the Syrian people felt a lot of tension towards French rule and it didnot take long for this tension to turn in to a full-scale uprising, and it wasto be the first of many. In 1928elections were held for a constitutional assembly, where a constitution wasdrafted but the proposal was rejected by the French High Commissioner, andagain this sparked a wave of nationalist protests. At the point in Syrianhistory, we are already seeing a pattern of nationalist movements and constantuprisings. Keep in mind that at this time it is because there is a foreignpower in rule.
A foreign power with their hand in the country’s politics issomething that will continue to stick with Syria, so this need to uprise isalready weaving itself in to Syria’s culture. In 1936 France agreed to work towardsSyrian independence and so they disbanded the separate regions, all the whilecontinuing to maintain military and economic control. 5 years later, FreeFrench and British troops occupied Syria. A few years later, in 1943 a nationalist, Shukri al-Kuwatli,was elected as the first president of Syria but the country did not gain it’sindependence until 1945. Around this yearwas the time when the Arab Socialist Ba’ath Party was founded. TheBa’ath Party was a political party that called for the alliance of the Arabworld into a single state and pushed for freedom from Western control.
In 1955 President Shukri al-Kuwatlipushed for an increased relationship with Egypt and this led to the formation of the United Arab Republic, which combinedEgypt and Syria as one nation. The Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser becamethe leader of the new state and one of his initial orders was the forceful dissolvingof all Syrian political parties. This included the Ba’ath party, which was amain force in pushing for the union of Egypt and Syria.
There was a lot of discontent with the types of decisions Nasser wasmaking, and they ultimately helped turn the Syrian people towards discontentwith the Egyptian domination of the UAR. In 1961, it incited a collection ofSyrian military officers to lead a coup and seize power, which dissolved theunion. It only lasted for 4 years. So againwe are arriving at the conclusion that the history of Syria is filled withstrife and discontent towards those in power, even if it was a system of power theSyrian people themselves pushed for. In1963, senior members of the Ba’athparty and their army officers seized power. In 1966 Salah Jadid, a Syrian general and politician in theBa’ath party, led a coup against the civilian Ba’ath leadership.
He tookcontrol of the government and pushed hard anti-Zionistic views and he alsoaligned Syria with the Soviets. This was close to a decade after Syria hadgotten them selves involved with the Soviets in the middle of the Cold War, sothe precedent for close ties was there. In1967 Israeli military forces seized the Golan Heights from Syria anddestroyed much of Syria’s air force, beginning the Six Day War with Jordan,Egypt and Syria. In 1973 Syriaand Egypt went to war with Israel again, but they again failed to retake theGolan Heights Israel had seized in 1967.Almost a decade later in 1975, President Assad said he was prepared tomake peace with Israel in return for Israeli withdrawal from “all occupiedArab land”. Israel did not comply and instead, in 1981, they formallyannexed the Golan Heights.
After the IslamicRevolution in Iran, Muslim groups in 1980 instigated riots and demonstrationsall over Syria. 1980 was the year thewar between Iran-Iraq began. Syria backed Iran, which was sticking withthe status quo considering there were rivalries between the Ba’athistleaderships in Syria and Iraq. In1982 the Muslim Brotherhood and other Sunni Muslim groups started an uprisingagainst the government in the city of Hama, which the army quickly suppressed.Syrian Human Rights Committee reports said that 40,000 civilians were killed inthe midst of it. It became known as the Hama Massacre. “The single deadliest act by any Arab governmentagainst its own people in the modern Middle East.”wright Thenext two decades were filled with similar tumultuous uprisings and volatilemovements.
20 years later, in the year 2000 the elder PresidentAssad died and was succeeded by his second son, Bashar al-Assad. In the sameyear senior United States officials, with President Bush, included Syria in alist of states that they entitled the “axis of evil.” The main claimbeing that Damascus was acquiring weapons of mass destruction.
This led to the United States imposingmajor economic sanctions on Syria over what it termed its backing of terrorismand irresponsibility in not being able to stop militants entering Iraq. In2009, trading launched onSyria’s stock exchange in a gesture towards liberalizing the state-controlledeconomy. (toll of war 8)Thenext year the United Statesrenewed its sanctions against Syria, saying that it still supported terroristgroups, pursued the use of weapons of mass destruction and that it had providedHezbollah with SCUD missiles in violation of UN resolutions. 2011 is the year that the seeds for Civil War were really planted.The Arab Spring erupted across the Middle East; pro-democracy protests andanti-government riots began happening all over. Not surprisingly the governmentresponded with extreme violence. In May of that year Syrian military tanksentered Homs, Banyas, Deraa, and areas of Damascus in their struggle to squashanti-government protests.
The year came to a head when President Assad killedthe governor of a northern province in Hama after mass anti-government demonstrationshappened there. The pushback was so sudden and volatile he ultimately sent in forcesto “restore order” at the cost of hundreds of civilian lives. In an unprecedented move, the ArabLeague voted to suspend Syria from the organization as a result of Assad’sactions and the manner in which he suppressed the anti-government sentiments inhis country. They accused him of failing to implement a peace plan, and imposedsanctions on the country. As of present, Syria is still suspended from the ArabLeague. It seems like every time Syria had a group or an individual claw theirway to power, someone else stepped in at the slightest show of weakness. Thereare constant power vacuums that get created and filled by the next people tofind themselves in a position to fill it. In 2012, the Civil Warbegan with fervor and while up until this point the country possibly could havebeen saved and brought back to a manageable level with diplomatic gestures oran attempt at peace, what followed knocked everything into a wild and volatile tailspin.
To put it simply, this is when all Hell broke loose in the country. The uprisingsand riots against President Assad continued and quickly turned into a full oncivil war. In keeping with theirusual tactics, the government did not handle itwell. The Assad regime began bombing cities, including Homs. The rebel group inthe country, the Free Syria Army, retaliated and killed three security chiefsin Damascus and seized Aleppo in the north. The PrimeMinister of Syria, Riad Hijab became the highest-ranking government official todefect to the rebel side. Many of the historic areas in Aleppo were destroyed as attacks and fighting carried on.As the Assad regime continued to use force againstit’s own people, President Barack Obama warned the Syrian government that anyuse of chemical weapons would push the already on the brink Unites Statestowards intervention.
But that didn’t stop them. In 2013 the Syrian Government repeatedly denied allegations of chemicalweapons use.Chemical weapons were used in an attack on theGhouta suburb in Damascus and “1400civilians were killed”decoder, but the UN chose not to place theresponsibility on anyone.
The White House expressed their belief that theSyrian Government was at fault but they did nothing. The next year, the UN held peace talks in Geneva but they failed,largely because Syrian authorities refused to discuss a transitional plan forthe government. The civil war in Syria was possible because from the beginningof its modern history, Syria has been inherently weak and unstable. The cultureis wrapped in violence and bloodshed and the idea of a stable transition isalmost unthinkable for a place with no real idea of what stable looks like.
“As the conflict in Syria raged onover the past few years, the humanitarian needs and the human cost of thecrisis rose with every day that passed. With alarming speed, Syria became theworld’s largest refugee-producing country Blue Helmets 360” 11 million people havebeen displaced as a result of the Syrian Civil War,(Syrian refugees) many staying in the Middle East, in countries likeTurkey and Jordan where the refugees have “ethnic ties to the population”Spillover 57), somemake it to Europe and even to the United States. But the strain on thecountries housing the refugees has started to take a toll and many refugees arenot able to get in anywhere, they are displaced within their own country. (deconstruct 332) Countriesthat took in refugees are also facing problems with ISIS militants usingrefugees as a Trojan horse of sorts. They “sneak” into these countriesaccepting refugees and cause mayhem. The men who set bombs off in Paris in 2015were ISIS members masquerading as refugees. (bbc) In the midst of the chaos and division in the country ISIS found the perfectspace to infiltrate.
ISIS is a group that has proven so radical andbrutal that even al Qaeda has disowned them. Militants declared their caliphatein the territory from Aleppo to Diyala, an area in Eastern Iraq. They began proving their dominance of theirhold on the area by performing extremely brutal and public executions of anyonethey saw fit.
They killed journalists, foreign aid workers; anyone who theybelieved defied them. “The Islamic State carved out a ministate in Syria’s chaos” NY times. Stepping in, the United States created a coalition with five Arab countries, with whomthey launched air strikes against ISIS around Aleppo and Raqqa, the unofficialcapital of the caliphate. The Kurdishforces working against ISIS managed, in 2015, to push them out of Kobane, atown on the Turkish border, after half a year of fighting. But in thatsame year ISIS militantsseized the ancient city of Palmyra, which is found in central Syria.(milne)They set out to and succeeded in destroying countless monuments at the pre-IslamicWorld Heritage site.
ISIS is successful because they are successful atrecruiting new members. They use the Internet, social media, YouTube, poetry,all different kinds of tactics to bring in recruits from all over the world.This means that they do not have to train all their members, and ISIS reliesheavily on the terrifying power of lone wolf members. They indoctrinate theirrecruits to be independent and self-sustaining. Inthat same year, Russia actively gotinvolved, which added yet another complex layer to the already complicatedissue. They carried out air strikes in Syria and held that they had been targetingISIS.
This came as hard to believe, as both experts in the West and members ofthe Syrian opposition said the strike quite devastatingly hurt more anti-Assadrebels. The Syrian governmentended up taking Palmyra from ISIS with assistance from the Russians, so it soonbecame more than apparent whose side they were on. The victory for the Syriansdid not last for long though as they were driven out from Palmyra again a fewmonths later. Russia and Syria have always been allies; “Russia’s only military base outside of the formerSoviet Union is in Syria, which supported Moscow during the Cold War.”decoderRussia, like Iran is hoping to prop up President Assad and keep him has an allyin the future.
That would not be possible with a rebel power in place that isbacked by the United States. This strange puppet show that is going on in Syriawith all these big world powers pulling the strings, is “the first time since the end of World War Two, thatthe U.S. and Russian military forces are involved in a common armed conflictwith opposing aims”decoder. The two countries are actively and publiclyat odds for the first time in decades. The potential repercussions of this areobviously lengthy but the question becomes, is this Syrian Civil War a jumpingoff point for war between world super powers? Turkish troops aided Syrianrebel groups in 2016 in pushing back ISIS militants from a section of the borderbetween the two countries but that same year, Syrian government troops recapturedAleppo, with help from Russian and Iranian militias. This move took away thelast major stronghold that rebel forces had been holding. 2017was a significant year in the fight against ISIS and the Assad regime in Syria.
United States PresidentDonald Trump ordered a missile air strike on an airbase in Syria with the claimfor reasoning being that the Syrian government had planes that had purportedlystaged a chemical weapons attack on the town of Khan Sheikhoun, which was heldby rebels. Later that year the UnitedStates moved to arm the Kurdish Popular Protection Units. The Kurdish PopularProtection Unit fought alongside the main resistance, the Syrian DemocraticForces, who were responsible for capturing the significant Tabqa dam from ISIS.The United States also shot down a Syrian fighter jet near Raqqa after itallegedly dropped bombs near rebel groups the United States backed. The realcherry on top of the year though was ISIS being driven out of Raqqa, thecapital of their Caliphate and a big holding for them. This was a huge win forthe people of the Middle East and all people opposing the terror jihad of ISIS.The civilians of Raqqa endured three terrible years of ISIS’ rule and while theISIS loss of the city does not mean they are immediately collapsing itcertainly is the most promising step in a long time. There has to be continuedpersistence by the United States and its Allies in fighting back ISIS as theytend to rebuild quickly.
(state we knew 15) Syria’s war still rageson though. The government is not backing down and neither are the rebel forces.The rebellions have hope now and that is not easily taken away. ISIS is stillan unwanted member of this conflict, filling the vacuums that get created bythe government’s constant massacre of its people. There is not really an end insight to their reign but the fall of their capital and the shrinking of theircaliphate is a light in the darkness. The people of Syria who are trying toescape the collapse of their nation are lost around the world, with many of themnever making it anywhere and those who do, face extreme hardships as refugeesin their new homes. Also, Syria has nevertruly been in control of itself.
There has always been other outside powers atplay in the country. This makes it a much more complicated scenario than simplya civil war by and within a country.