Intro to the Syrian Conflict
In March of 2011, not long after the beginning of the Arab Spring, protests against the Assad regime erupted in Syria. The hereditary authoritarian regime responded with a brutal crackdown, but nonetheless, in July of that year, military leaders and soldiers were declaring the formation of a major opposition militia group, the Free Syrian Army (FSA).
In the years following the initial March protests, Syria has been embroiled in a devastating civil war that has cost the lives of hundreds of thousands of civilians and severely injured and displaced many millions more—including through the callous use of chemical weapons and bombings against civilians. The war has engaged numerous regional and global powers, including Turkey and Iraq, Israel and Iran, and Russia and the US—among others. The war has significantly evolved over time as Islamic extremist groups such as ISIS gained power, the rebels have been pushed back, Turkey has directly invaded, etc. As of 2018, some of the major areas of conflict and tension included:
- The rebels fighting against the Assad regime, primarily throughout the western part of the country;
- General battle against the remaining ISIS pockets, primarily in the east and southwest;
- Turkish invasion and battle against the Kurds, in the northwest;
- Internal fighting amongst the rebels, primarily in the northwestern part of the country;
- Israel and the US (et al.) combatting Iranian influence, throughout the country;
The war has undoubtedly been very consequential for the general region, but it has also been significantly consequential for the major powers in the world. Over the past few years, the conflict has gradually seen fewer casualties, but the conflict still continues, necessitating a proper analysis of the drivers, trends, and consequences for those involved.