College Blog

Student Perspectives: The Syrian Crisis

02 May 2018

Over the past 7 years of the ongoing crisis in Syria, there have been roughly 500,000 reported casualties ranging from civilians to government officials. The crisis began with anti-government protests against Bashar al-Assad’s regime in Syria. The crisis in Syria escalated further to a full-scale civil war with foreign countries such as Russia, Turkey, and Iran getting involved. Roughly 11 million people living in Syria have had to leave their homes due to continuous pressure from pro-Assad militants as well as the ‘Islamic State’ group.

President Bashar al-Assad is backed by Russian president Vladimir Putin as well as Iranian and Shia militants. The opposition that faces Bashar al-Assad are rebel fighter groups Jaysh al Islam and Ahrar al Sham. The north of Syria is primarily run by the Kurdish groups PKK and the YPG who have been supported by the USA. Turkey is fighting Kurdish terrorist groups in the north of Syria. Israel is launching air strikes in the south of Syria against Assad. The last group that is involved in Syria is the ‘Islamic State’ who has inflicted chaos in both Syria and Iraq, but has been forced into retreat in recent months by forces on both sides.

Bashar al-Assad’s primary intention in Syria is to remain in control and stay in power by any means necessary. Bashar al-Assad has received a significant backlash from the western world with claims that Assad has been using chemical weapons against civilians and anyone who rebels against his regime. Assad’s forces have been responsible for most of the deaths in the crisis. The rebel fighters became involved in 2011 due to peaceful protests being met with violence from pro-Assad militants. The rebel’s main intention is to force Assad from power.

The war in Syria has become such a mess due to it becoming a proxy war of international powers. Russia’s involvement in Syria is for their own interests as if Assad fell, Russia would lose their key foothold within the Middle East and lose their Mediterranean port Tartus. Iran’s involvement in Syria is due to them wanting to counter Saudi Arabian power in the Middle East. Bashar al-Assad has been asked to step down by America however America has not fully enforced actions against Assad, as they fear the person or group that would succeed Assad and since Putin began directly supporting the regime they also want to avoid direct conflict with Russia.

Turkey’s main intention in Syria is to protect the rebels and civilians against the YPG and Assad. Turkey’s main role has been giving shelter to millions of Syrian’s who have been forced out by Assad. Turkey has supported the Free Syrian Army and are fighting against the Kurdish YPG who are allies with America, but they see as threatening Turkish government interests. The American support for the YPG is controversial as Turkey is a fellow member of NATO with the USA, but in attacking the YPG is working alongside Russia. Turkish forces went into Afrin, near the Turkish-Syrian border in 2018 specifically targeting the YPG, however this response triggered Assad to help out the YPG.

There have been three peace conferences on the Syrian conflict in Astana, Geneva and Sochi in order to aid the numerous civilians being killed daily and put an end to a seemingly endless war in Syria. Syria currently remains a war zone with civilian casualties rapidly increasing as a result of chemical weapons being used by president Bashar al-Assad. For many civilians living in Syria their human rights are being breached as reports suggest that chemical weapons are being used against them as well as numerous deaths caused by torture. There have been positive reactions from surrounding countries like Turkey who by the end of 2017 have taken in 3,381,005 Syrian civilians and Lebanon who have taken in 1,001,051 civilians. It can only be hoped that these innocent civilians of the conflict can one day see a better future.

Abdullah (Year 12)

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