Political Transition

Whether the regime in Damascus can win peace is uncertain. Without reconstruction, the living conditions of the Syrians could deteriorate and leave queston marks about the country’s recovery, perpetuating instability.

By Amjad Ali Siyal | May 2020

The war in Syria has entered its tenth year, yet normalcy is nowhere in sight. The conflict, which began after the Arab Spring, has descended into a perpetual chaos, having different shades of civil war, sectarianism, IS terrorism, geo-political proxy war and, at times, direct confrontation between different states. In this long crisis, the foremost affectees are the harmless people of Syria in general and children in particular. Despite the long ten years of fierce battle, Syria remains politically polarised, socially divisive and its future remains as uncertain as it was years ago.

As the Arab Spring swept across the Middle East and the North African Arab states, the long-suppressed people of Syria courageously came into the streets of Damascus to topple the Assad government. The reluctant Assad resorted to ruthless force against the peaceful protestors and Syria descended into chaos. The scenario gave rise to a civil war. Many top military officials defected from the Syrian regime and joined forces with the civilian protestors and formed the Free Syrian Army (FSA) in order to remove Assad. Owing to the continued use of violent tactics by Assad to silence protestors, mostly Sunni, radical organisations poured into Syria and formed Jabat-ul-Nusra, which is the Al-Qaeda offshoot in Syria. In response, Shia organisations such as Hezbollah came to rescue the Alawite regime. By then, the civil war had morphed into a sectarian war.

When certain states intervened in the jigsaw, it became even more complex. Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey supported the Sunni rebel groups; on the other side, Iran and Hezbollah-backed Shia militias contested to counter the Sunni rebel groups. In addition, the Obama administration approved a CIA-backed training programme to support the anti-Assad rebel groups. When the Assad regime attacked the civilian population with chemical weapons, the western countries launched air strikes to weaken the beleaguered Assad. Many times, it was reported, he was ready to give up; however his Russian and Iranian allies bolstered him and he stayed. In the meanwhile, the Islamic State (IS) emerged on the Syrian landscape that turned the tide in President Assad’s favour.

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