The Syria Crisis- How did it happen?

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Donald Trump insists that President Obama and of course Hillary Clinton are alone to blame for the war in Syria and the uprising of ISIS. His supporters, of course, believe him, they are busy hating, they don’t have time for facts, they don’t seem to have the time for research, even when it’s right at their fingertips. 

Spring 2011

In early 2011 the opposition activists demonstrated peacefully against the Syrian leader Assad. Many of them were beaten down and hunted by militias, many of them were shot. No one could have known that the demonstrations against a dictator would develop into a regional war.

There were the rebels on one side and the regime on the other side, supported by several of the country’s minorities.

How could this civil war grow into a conflict affecting the entire globe? The supporters of the Assad regime are the minority in the country, but they got help. Russia and Iran were both determined to assist their trusted servant.

More parties joined. Money from Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states mostly went to radical-Islamist groups among the rebels, which contributed to their strength. Local militia groups – known as the Free Syrian Army- increasingly found themselves in competition with ideologically and financially powerful rebel groups and the Syrian branch of al-Qaida, which recently changed its name to Jabhat Fateh al-Sham. Finally, the Islamic State (ISIS*) also began expanding its control over Syrian territory.

Terrible circumstances for the world and Vladimir Putin took advantage of the opportunity to increase Russia’s geopolitical influence.

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Assad’s regime would have collapsed years ago without the ground troops, planes, and bombs of his allies. If he and Putin are allowed to continue attacking unhindered, it is likely that they will ultimately be able to take Aleppo. It might take a few months; it might even take a year. But the Assad regime would then control a rump state containing both, the capital Damascus, and the city that was once Syria’s largest economic hub. It would be a ghost town without people, but it would be in Assad’s hands and most importantly Aleppo would be part of Russia.
Religion

What is currently taking place in Syria is nothing less than the first international Shiite jihad** in recent history. Mostly unnoticed by the global public, tens of thousands of Shiite fighters have been recruited from half a dozen countries, they have been trained and sent to Syria. Today it’s an army with fighters from Lebanon, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Pakistan. Around 10,000 of them are standing at the gates of Aleppo.

Over 30 years ago, thousands of Sunnis joined the jihad in Afghanistan against the Soviet occupiers, and now it is Shiites who are going to war in a foreign country in the name of religion. Once again Russia is involved.

Russia

There is -of course – an official and an unofficial explanation. Officially Russia continues to fight international terrorism. Unofficially, though, Russian politicians own up to the real goal: Achieving geopolitical parity with the U.S. That’s why Assad’s political survival is important. He is the only political actor who can preserve Russian influence in the region. Should he stumble, Russia would have to bid farewell to its dream of wielding influence over the Middle East and the Mediterranean.
Personally, I think Putin he is fighting against Europe and the European Union. Destroying Syria and creating a flow of refugees will destabilize Europe. As far as I can judge, Putin has been successful so far.

Russia only wanted to interfere for a few months; now the Kremlin is openly saying that Russia will have an extended presence in Syria.

Europe and Syria

If you look at the map, then you will see that Europe is much closer to Syria than we are. That might explain, why all the refugees ended up on the European shore and not ours.

I was born and raised in Europe, so I allow myself to judge the situation. In my opinion, Europeans need to get in gear and need to help resolve the conflict -which would also lighten the migrant flow. If it means sanctions against Russia, then so be it. Russia needs to understand there is a price to be paid for supporting a murderer like Assad.

The West needs to demonstrate its strength and they should push for a political solution to the crisis. The U.S. should not move ahead without a strong alliance. The Europeans should stop to expect America -with the occasional support of France and the UK -to solve these challenges. I am very disappointed in Europe’s weakness. Get off your butt and get involved, what are you waiting for?

I compliment President Obama for not rushing into war with Syria. It’s not only a case of the U.S. and Russia fighting a proxy war in Syria – by way of association- it’s also Turkey, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, and Iran as well. That’s why President Obama has been so reluctant about getting us involved. Mostly the people who think the U.S. should have boots on the ground, are also the ones who would be last to volunteer their sons, or daughters, or go themselves.

Can any third party solve a civil war in another country? I don’t think that’s even possible.

There you have it. My 2-cents of the Syria crisis.

…To be continued


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*ISIS =Islamic State in Iraq and Syria the Islamist militant group that has seized a chunk of land stretching from northern Syria to central Iraq. The group began in 2004 as al Qaeda in Iraq, before rebranding as ISIS two years later. It was an ally of—and had similarities with—Osama bin Laden’s al Qaeda: Both were radical anti-Western militant groups devoted to establishing an independent Islamic state in the region. But ISIS—unlike al Qaeda, which disowned the group in early 2014—has proven to be more brutal and more effective at controlling territory it has seized. (Source: CNN)

** Jihad Jihad is an Islamic term referring to the religious duty of Muslims to maintain the religion.

 

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13 thoughts on “The Syria Crisis- How did it happen?

  1. Good summary of an impossible situation. I read an article thirty years ago saying that the next big conflict would be between Shias and Sunnis! I don’t think there is a ‘solution’ anywhere on the horizon at the moment. Every move that you can think of includes so many negative consequences. The UK is embarrassingly slow to accept their share of refugees (though they are putting more money into the camps in Lebanon than any other nation). Many of the geographically closest (mostly Eastern) European nations are closing their borders. Turkey is imploding and at war with the most effective troops on the ground, the Kurds. We must all keep talking and shouting too, but the Russians and Assad have no plans to abide by the Geneva conventions and apart from bombing hospitals take most of the aid on its way to Aleppo for themselves… as I say, it is difficult to see any way forward.

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  2. Thamks for the summary. It is overwhelming in its complexity and horrors on the civilians. Russia didn’t win in Afghanistan so probably won’t win here either unless the local people support him. The refugee crisis is destabilizing Europe, you are right there. And now I hear Russia is preparing on case of nuclear war. It is concerning if politicians are paranoid…..on both sides.

    Liked by 1 person

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