The Middle East has often been the epicenter of political unrest, conflicts, and geopolitical struggles. The past decade in Syria epitomizes these complexities, with its civil war having far-reaching consequences not just for the country, but for the entire region and even the world.
The Genesis of Conflict
It all began over a decade ago when Syria found itself caught in the whirlwind of the Arab Spring. Countries like Tunisia and Libya had already witnessed anti-government protests, demanding democratic reforms and a departure from authoritarianism. Syria wasn’t immune to this wave of public dissent. Protests erupted against President Bashar al-Assad, the leader who had been at Syria’s helm since 2000, succeeding his father’s rule, which started back in 1971.
Assad had promised a new era for Syria, an era filled with democratic reforms and multiparty elections. But, as time unfolded, these promises faded, replaced by the grim reality of a regime that clamped down on dissidence. The peaceful protests quickly escalated, transforming into a gruesome civil war that tore the fabric of Syrian society.
International Dynamics and Assad’s Allies
The Syrian civil war could have been just another internal conflict, but international geopolitics ensured that wasn’t the case. Russia and Iran, two major players in the region, threw their weight behind Assad, aiding his forces and ensuring the conflict was prolonged.
In the 2010s, the Syrian conflict took another twist. The rise of ISIS, a radical extremist group, turned the Syrian civil war into an international concern. The U.S., along with its allies, recognized the threat and jumped into the fray, supporting Kurdish forces in northern Syria to combat ISIS.
The Kurds, an ethnic group with a significant presence in Syria, Iraq, and Turkey, played a pivotal role in this conflict. With support from the U.S., they not only pushed back against ISIS but carved out a region in northern Syria, establishing their own distinct identity. They transitioned to using Kurdish as their main language and even adopted the US dollar for currency, reflecting their semi-autonomous status.