Such a simple title for a very, very complex situation. This article is to serve as an introduction for those new to the conflict in Syria, who might now be questioning what’s going on, and also as a platform for further developments and discussion on key areas in the middle east…
How the conflict came to be and the key players
The Syrian population is made up predominantly of different sub-sects of Islam. The majority of the population are Sunni Muslims, and we also have the Shi’ite Muslims, the Alawite Shi’ite’s (a subset of Shiite’s), and some Syrian Kurds.
The current president is Bashar al-Assad
Protests against Assad started in 2011, as the Sunni majority had various political issues over Assad’s Alawite Shi’ite focused policies. As protests tend to do they turned violent. Assad’s handling of the situation was poor to say the least and he ordered his Syrian military to fire on unarmed protesters in an attempt to contain the violence. A number of military squads refused to do so and broke away from the governments Syrian Army to form the Free Syrian Army, who are now part of the opposition, their core goal is to topple Assad in favour of a more secular Syria. A group of mercenaries named Al-Nusra and ISIS make up the other part of the opposition. Al-Nusra and ISIS are both forks of Al-Quaeda. As you’d expect, the FSA and Al-Nusra/ISIS (Al-Qaeda) don’t exactly see eye to eye and regularly have bloody disagreements. Another party named Hezbollah who are a political and militant group from Lebanon have also entered the equation.
The ongoing conflict has led to a couple of million refugees fleeing Syria in to neighbouring countries.
Who supports who
Neighbouring Iran – Iran have always been allies of Syria, they support the Syrian government and have vowed military support should Syria be attacked by a neighbouring country.
Russia – Russia also support the Syrian Government, and have pledged defensive support
China – China watch on from afar and have condemn use of chemical weapons on either side, they are however, allies of Russia.
Hezbollah – Crossed the border from Lebanon in support of President al-Assad’s Syria
The US – The US claim to have remained neutral (they have not) and they support the opposition, Al-Quaeda (yes that’s right),
The UN – The UN are a sort of independent referee (apparently)
Who controls what
They say a picture paints a thousand words, and this one tells us all we need to know. As you can see, its a bit of a mess.
Something worth noting is that the Government now control Al-Safira. Last year the Syrian army lost control of Al-Safira to the rebels, and it has a significant stockpile of chemical weapons, as does Aleppo.
Chemical Weapons, the UN, and the US
In August 2013 (while the “opposition” had control of Al-Safira) on the outskirts of Damascus, a chemical weapons attack took place that killed anywhere from 300-1700 civilians as rockets were fired that contained serin gas (a chemical agent that attacks the nervous system). This was an illegal act condemned by the international community. The US were quick to pounce on the situation claiming that they had intel that suggested the attack came from a government controlled area and namely that Assad was gassing his own people. Obama also condemned the assault, stating that a red line had been crossed that the international community must not tolerate. The US were ready to mob in to Syria (anyone would think they’d been waiting for an excuse), this caused tensions between the US and Russia who supported Assad as he professed his innocence. As you’d expect my own country, the US’s little lapdog the UK supported such action and this was voiced by Prime Minister David Cameron. He quickly received fierce backlash for the proposition and soon dropped the idea. The UN were brought in to the area to perform forensic analysis to find out what agent was used, what the attack method was and were it came from. Assad and Putin (the Russian President) urged the US to await the results of the UN report, and although they did not want to, amid international tensions and a lack of support the US relented and agreed to wait.
The results are now in, and the UN’s report states that the attack was carried out by Syrian rebels. Shock, horror.
But -I hear you ask- where did the chemical weapons come from? The weapons were manufactured in-house but the chemicals to make such weapons were supplied by the west, who seem to have a habit of supplying nasty weapons (or the means to make them) to nations, and then claiming an “evil regime” has such weapons and should be invaded in the name of peace.
To prevent future attacks of this nature, an agreement was reached between the US and Russia and put forward to the UN that the Syrian Government must hand over all of its chemical weapons in to international hands to be destroyed. A wise move.
It is worth noting that it is widely speculated that the US has been supplying the rebels with small amounts of military aid for some time now, although they are now distancing themselves from the support they once provided to Al-Quadea which I suggest kicked off the whole situation. But, why the distancing? Well, a couple of members of the UN were kidnapped by the US sponsored terrorists and it seemed they were getting out of hand and could no longer be controlled. Thankfully, nothing came of the kidnapping and the members were swiftly returned. It mattered not to the US, for groundwork had now been laid and so they could begin to distance themselves from the situation.
More on the US
Why do the US have such an interest in Syria? One word, Iran.
The US have been attempting to provoke a reaction from Iran for quite some time now, part of their strategy for conquest in the middle east. The previous Iranian President, Ahmadinejad, did not take the bate. Knowing Iran’s loyalty to Syria, the US has instigated this civil war off the back of peaceful protests in order to capture the oil of both nations. Though, they have not been able to spark conflict between either nation and it isn’t through a lack of trying. Since diverting their direct efforts away from Iran, the country has had a change in leadership. It was first thought that the US may have a fairly easy ride in obtaining Iran’s oil via Ahmadinejad’s successor President Hassan Rouhani, who’s mandate includes repairing relations with the west. Thus far, conquest on a political front has not been achieved and it remains to be seen how they are going to enter Iran. Some false flag terror attack no doubt. But back to Syria….
UN peace talks
“Peace talks” are set to go ahead this week in the hope of restoring order in the country by introducing a ‘transitional government’. I’ll let that sink in for a second. President Obama, backed by the UN are planning to remove Assad from power (it’ll be a step down or we’ll remove you by force job) and install their own government much as they did in Libya. Iran initially had an invitation to attend the talks but the schoolyard bully of nations (the US) threw a wobbler as they say, and their Al-Quadea attack dogs were not happy either. This led to the UN removing aforementioned invitation much to the anger of Iran. More provocation.
How significant it is at this point that President Assad plans stand in the new elections I don’t know, and this is because as a Westerner, it is difficult to tell how much public support Assad actually has. Not that it matters, of course, because the US get what they want eventually.
Come back to my blog from time to time to see how the situation develops.
If you found this story interesting, you may want to bring yourself up to speed on what’s happening with Obama’s drone program in Pakistan, accidentally killing thousands of innocent Pakistani citizens (a large number of these children) as they target the US’s sworn enemy and close friends Al-Qaeda remotely from the air.
They gave this man the Nobel Peace Prize, don’t ya know.