As Syria begins to normalize relations with neighbors, look back at a bloody 10-year conflict

An archive photo of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad | Communal room

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New Delhi: The conflict in Syria has taken a new turn in recent months: after a decade of pariah, the government of Bashar al-Assad is now renewing ties with its neighbors, even as civil war continues to ravage the country.

After the US withdrawal from Afghanistan in August, the The Arab world has started To normalize relations with Syria, and The US administration of Joe Biden has so far not invoked the Caesar Law (allow sanctions) against one of these countries.

United States’ close ally, JordaKing Abdullah of na received a call al-Assad earlier this month, after more than a decade of strained relations. This followed the September 27 announcement of the opening of borders between countries to trade..

Soon after, economic commitments between Syria and the United Arab Emirates began, when the countries’ finance ministers met on the sidelines of the Dubai Expo on October 5. The The United States has supported a gas pipeline plan which crosses Syria which is seen as a signal that Biden is also on board.

However, last week, Secretary of State Antony Blinken clarified that United States to does do not support efforts to “normalize relationshipsWith the al-Assad regime, who remains under sanctions.

ThePrint takes a look at the al-Assad regime and the Syrian civil war, which To would have kill a staggering 4,00,000 according to United Nations estimates, and To allowed more than 66 lakh of Syrians to become refugees, according to UN records.

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Syria before the civil war

Syria gained independence in 1946 from France after being ruled for 26 years after the fall of the Ottoman Empire. But what the country has not achieved is stability.

Syria is a state of 2.2 million people, nearly 75 percent of them are Sunni Muslims. But President Bashar al-Assad comes from the Alawite sect, which represents about 12% of the population.

Between 1949 and 1951, there were four military coups in Syria. Then, in 1958, Syria ceded to United Arab Republic (UAR), a new union of Syria and Egypt led by the latter Gamal Abdel Nasser, to separate again in 1961 due to a coup led by officers of the Syrian army to restore the state of Syria.

In other coup d’etat in 1963, the Baath party, founded in 1947 through Michel aflaq, came to power. But the civilian wing of the party was not part of the leadership due to a break with the military wing – even Michel Aflaq was left out.

Themmilitary wing included Hafez al-Assad, who seized power in 1971 after a series of coups, and remained in office until his death in 2000. Son of Hafez Bashar al-Assad became president of Syria at the age of 34 and was seen as a new leader with progressive ideas. To be president, the minimum age has been reduced from 40 to 34 years.

Bashar freed around 600 political prisoners during his early years as president. Those the stages were considered progressive, as he continued relatively liberal policies. Howeverthere was good contestation within the Baath Party, and Bashar began to assert his control over the country and the party. In a 2007 election widely recognized as a “sham,” he won unopposed, obtaining 97.6% of the vote.

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The Arab Spring and the war

In the spring of 2011, pro-democracy movements began in Arab countries, starting with Tunisia and then Egypt. The movement was called the ‘Arab Spring’, and it also reached Syria among other countries.

Protests erupted in the city of Daraa, in southwestern Syria, when children were arrested for the first pro-democracy graffiti against the al-Assad regime. Government forces opened fire on civilians, murder more than 400 people in the city in two months. This led to a series of protests across the country, and so began the civil war which still continues.

A resolution was presented to the UN Security Council in October 2011 condemning the Governments crackdown and call for sanctions against the al-Assad regime, but it was rejected after China and Russia vetoed it.

The government continued to attack not only armed rebels but civilians, with weapons, tanks, bombs and even Chemical Weapons.

Initially, those who opposed the regime were local people. But now there are rebels, militias backed by foreign forces like Turkey, and Islamist organizations like the Islamic State or ISIS.

In 2013, Islamist terrorism began to take hold of Syria. In April of the same year, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, an al-Qaeda leader, combined his forces in Iraq and Syria to form the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (a historic name for the region, including modern-day Syria).

In November of the same year, a coalition of seven Islamist militias was formed in “Islamic Front”. ISIS began capturing cities in 2014, enforced strict Islamic laws, and killed people mercilessly. In September 2014, the United States and other countries including Jordan, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia stepped up their attacks against Daesh.

At the start of 2015, Bashar al-Assad was at his weakest. But later that year, Russia came in support through launch Air strikes against anti-government forces. From there, al-Assad started making big gains again.

In 2020, the escalations resulted in a cease-fire with the rebels. But since then the ceasefire has been repeatedly violated. In Deraa, this year, after multiple killings and fighting, Russia helped the rebels reach a agreement with the government, which practically meant that Al-Assad had won the city from which the rebellion began in 2011.

Foreign forces

Many foreign countries are supporting opposing parties in the civil war in Syria.

Iran, and the militant group Hezbollah based in Lebanon, backed the al-Assad regime, even putting up infrastructure and send soldiers To to help. Iran and Hezbollah also back Syria in its war against Israel, with whom it shares a long border.

Last Thursday, reports suggested that Israel attacked Iran’s infrastructure in Syria. This also happened earlier, with Israel attempting to prevent Iranian-backed Syrian troops from gaining territory in the war and to prevent Iran from strengthening itself in the region.

Syria and Israel were enemies ssince its creation in 1948. Tthere have been multiple armed conflicts continuing between the two nations. Syria has known a major setback when Israel took the Golan Heights during the 1967 war, and gained further territory in the October 1973 war.

Russia also supports the al-Assad regime. It has filled the power vacuum, and the support of President Vladimir Putin is considered the main reason for al-Assad’s rebirth after 2015. Russia claims to only hit terrorist forces, but this is not a hidden fact that all anti-government forces are suppressed by it. .

Turkey is the most important country which openly supports the rebels in Syria, because he accuses the al-Assad regime of supporting the Kurdish forces. Turkey’s interest lies mainly in the removal of Kurdish People’s Protection Group (YPG), because he considers that the Kurdish militia of Syria supports the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), a Kurdish terrorist organization in Turkey.

From Western countries, the United States, the United Kingdom and France have been active in Syrian geopolitics. The United States has around 900 troops in Syria to support the Syrian Democratic Front (SDF), a rebel front that fought ISIS in the vsvile war.

Even if United States imposed strict punishments on the Syrian regime, IIts primary interest is to control the growth of Islamist terrorism on the soil of the country.

(Edited by Amit Upadhyaya)

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