In December 2010 widespread protests against the long-time ruling government began in Tunisia leading to the collapse of the regime, and unrest spreading to other Arab nations in North-African and the Middle-East. Decades of famine, drought, and suppression of political freedoms in the Arab world had finally boiled over, with disruption of some sort affecting: Algeria, Tunisia, Jordan, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Yemen, Djibouti, Sudan, Palestine, Iraq, Bahrain, Libya, Kuwait, Morocco, Mauritania, Lebanon, and Syria.
In Syria, President Bashir al-Assad, in power since 2000, violently supressed protests which were initiated as a result of Assad’s alleged abuse of human rights, amongst other factors.
The conflict widened into a civil war, which has seen the rise and fall of the Islamic State (IS), the proxy warfare of the world’s great powers, and an estimated 593,000 dead, 7.6 million internally displaced, and over 5 million refugees.
So how did this conflict progress, and what is the situation now?
After the initial protests in 2011, a second, more deadly, phase of the conflict began. In early 2012 the government began bombing the city of Homs in the west of the country, in an attempt to quell opposition – this was after the Arab League suspended the country for failing to implement peaceful solutions.
IS swept across Iraq and Syria, routing the Iraqi Army with staggering speed
Destruction and violence continued throughout the rest of 2012 and 2013, when the rise of the Islamic State changed the geopolitical situation in the entire Middle-East.
Formed from the splinters of other Islamic terrorist groups, IS swept across Iraq and Syria, routing the Iraqi Army with staggering speed. By 2017, with Western Intervention, IS’s territorial gains had nearly all been lost.
The situation in the past couple of years has been as complex and dangerous as the previous years, with changing international circumstances. Donald Trump’s Presidency led to a more aggressive policy towards the Syrian Regime, and in both 2017 and 2018 the US participated in retaliatory attacks on Syrian targets due the Assad’s use of chemical weapons on civilian targets.
Turkish intervention in the northern part of the country to seize Kurdish land in 2019 resulted in further land cessation to the Syrian government, and since then the situation has been dire for the rebel armies. The government seems to have the upper hand in the conflict that has devastated the country, meaning the future of Syria, as it stands, is very much in the hands of the Assad dictatorship.
As of March 2020, the territorial situation shows 63% of Syrian land in the hands of Assad, and less than 9% in the hands of the alliance of rebels. The country is in chaos, and it looks like it will be in such a state for the foreseeable future.
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