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Politics of the Middle East- Describe the regional dimension of the conflict in Syria?
Introduction on the outbreak and course of Syrian civil war
In this particular essay, the regional dimension is chosen on the Syrian conflict. The president at that time was Bashar Assad and his father Hafez Assad in Syria and they were treating the Syrians with policies of maltreatment and suppression. In the year 2011, the Syrians started to revolt against these policies. At the primary stage of the revolution, the protest of the Syrians was peaceful and in the Middle East, it was called the Arab Spring. No positive response was seen from the side of the government in this issue. Rather, violence was evident in their behaviour and attempts were made to suppress the demands of the Syrians. After the uprising of Arab spring, protests were started in Syria in a peaceful manner when supporting the Arab Spring graffiti were made by 15 boys and as a consequence, they were tormented and confined. Hundreds of protesters were killed by Bashar al-Assad and lots of people got imprisonment for supporting the protest.
It took a wrong turn and resulted in an armed movement of the protesters. A civil war was started as per the consequence and in that conflict, approximately 200000 people were executed. In the year 2014, an announcement was declared by the United Nations. As per their declaration, in Syria, roughly 6.5 million people were displaced inside the country. Thus the conflict continues. In this essay, the regional dimension of the Syrian conflict will be discussed elaborately.
Turkey’s Dilemma in the Syrian Conflict
Seeing the Syrian conflict, turkey government tried to resolve the issues by influencing the then president Assad by convincing to take measures concerning democracy (Ghebali and Warner, 2018). This could manage the issues ad the conflicts could have stopped but Assad had no will regarding the conflicts and no attempts were seen from his side to modify his oppressive policies. This made Turkey change its mind and it transferred to the side of the Syrians .chances were provided to them so that they could systematize their revolts. The headquarters of the Syrian national council and free Syrian army were built in Turkey. The Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) ran a large area of Syrian Kurdistan. There were many groups at that time, which were deeply involved in terrorist activities.
Two such groups were Jabhat al-Nusra, which is actually a group of al-Qaeda and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). The government of Turkey supported these two groups. The policies taken by turkey government towards Syria was very unsuccessful. In the case of Assad, it was thought that he would have forced to change his policies because of the open fight but such things did not happen (Schulte, 2018). In fact, continue support was provided to the ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra groups by the Turkish government. These groups were engaged in many campaigns of which most of them were fierce fighting. As a result of that, the hope of peaceful Kurdistan was finished. As a whole, it can be said from the discussion that the Syrian policy of Turkey was very unsuccessful and there were no friends left for them in that region. Syria, Iraq, Israel, Iran were not on friendly terms with Turkey. The society of turkey was divided. Alawites and Kurds were packed in group and Sunni-Turks were on the opposite side. There was a dilemma for turkey because if the Syrians retained power, it would ruin the political party of Erdogan (Büscher, 2018). On the other hand, the disintegration of Syria will endanger the security issues of Turkey.
Iraq and the Two-way Spillover Effect on the Syrian Conflict
The relations between the states of Iraq and Syria were not stable in the past years and after the conflicts in Syria, and the political reasons related to it were created more issues between the two states. After the beginning of the war in Syria, the Iraq government shifted their support to the side of the Assad. At that time, the Shiites that was established by Nouri al-Maliki, the ex-prime minister of Iraq, dominated the government. Iraq was concerned about the rebellions of Syria (Bara, 2018). Terror was in the mind of Iraq because of the capturing of ISIS militaries. The west and north sides of Iraq was confined by the armed force of ISIS based on Syria. They slaughtered thousands of people in Iraq and established their power in Mosul, which was one of the largest cities in Iraq. By capturing the areas of Iraq, ISIS improved their power and from a general terrorist organization, they turned into a governing body. The states, which supported the civil war in Syria, also provided support to the terrorist activities, which were governing in Iraq. There were several states that are supported but Turkey, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia are the states that need to be mentioned. The policies taken by the Shiites was not at all satisfied they showed the government of Iraq from 2003 and impatience. To resolve the problematic situation, the government of Iraq wanted a conversation between the Syrian revolutionaries and the regime of Assad (Meyer et al., 2018). Iraq was showing support to Assad but confidentially, they gave permission for hovering the aircraft of Iran over the territories of Iraq so that they can supply weapons and arms to the military of Syria. On the other hand, the politicians of Iraq stated that with the fall of Assad and its regime, Iraq's western area would be devoted to the extremists of Sunni Islamists.
Iran and the Syrian Existential Question
In 2010, protests gained popularity and the protests started in Tunisia. Yemen, Libya, and Egypt are some of the countries in Arab where the protests stretched and support was declared by Iran. Ali Khamenei, a leader of Iran, suggested that the movements of the Arab spring in Egypt and Tunisia served the goals of Islamic perspectives and awakened the nations worldwide (Harff, 2018). With the disputes of Syria and Libya, things were changed. After some years of intensification of the civil war, the groups, which were in opposition, defeated Syria. In this context, a major general of Revolutionary Guard Corps, Mohammad Ali Jafari made it clear that they will do all the required things to safeguard the government of Syria. There were many reasons for which differentiation was made by Iran in the case of Syria with the other countries of Arab. The key reason was taught among all the countries of Arab, the commitment was only seen from Syria towards Iran. In 1980, Syria supported Iran when the war was there between Iran and Iraq. The second most important reason was the support of Syria in the shipment of arms of Iran. Here, Syria was the only medium through which arms were shipped to the Shiite group of Lebanon, named Hezbollah (Karimi and Hockings, 2018). In the whole world, Iran and Syria are the two countries, which were governed by the Alawite sect on which the ideology of Iran is largely depended on.
Therefore, for this particular reason, Iran provided support to Syria so that regional impact can be projected and the security of Iran can be ensured. In 2014, the government of Assad participated in the conference of Geneva II, and as per the declaration of the community of all the international states, intervention must be there in Syria and Iraq so that they can fight ISIS. As a result, it is clear that power will be in the hand of Assad and the fear of the existence of Iraq will dissolve currently.
The Gulf States and the Balance of Power in the Middle East
The Gulf state's policies of Arab are mainly revolved around the issue of removing Syria from the orbit of Iran. For opposing the power of Iran in Syria, the Gulf states made these policies (Kacowicz, 2018). Among all the Gulf States, Qatar and Saudi Arabia are the two countries that wanted to change the regime of Assad with another one so that they can get the power to govern Baghdad which was dominated by the Shiites currently. To maintain the power and balancing the regions, Baghdad possesses a strong position. The pressure of the public was also very huge which cannot be ignored by the states of the gulf. In brief, it can be said that the power that was lost by the states of the gulf in 2003, when the US occupied Iraq is now wanted to be reestablished by the states of Gulf (López-Bazo and Motellón, 2018). The coalition of Qatar with the Muslims, mainly Jabhat al-Nusra and ISIS is one of the issues, which affects the regional balance. In every Islamic country, there are connections to the Muslim Brotherhood. Consequently, a network of regions was established by Qatar and a satellite channel named al-Jazeera was ascertained. In contrary, the nation-Islamist groups were supported by Saudi Arabia.
The Impact of the Syrian Conflict (Turkish concern) on the Kurdish Issue
There are many ethnical groups in Syria of which Kurds are the one who is of the same kind of the Kurds habituated in Iran, Iraq, and Turkey. It is known as the greater Kurdistan (Obamamoye, 2019). This ethnic group is only one in the world who do not own any state. Approximately, 2 million people of Syria are Kurds. At the time when Syria was formulated as a modernized state, there were many sufferings faced by the Kurds based on Arabization policies. After the revolts of the Syrians against the regime of Assad, selecting any side was a must for the Kurds. They had to join the Syrians or made ally with the regime of Assad. By joining the Syrians, the presence of turkey would be there. Turkey will not grant playing an important part in the era of pot-Assad periods (Kostovicova and Bicquelet, 2018). On the other hand, the harassment faced by Assad in the uprising of the Kurds were still remembered. With the establishment of ISIS, things got more complicated. In 2012, the administrative and security control of Syria was withdrawn from the areas where the majority of people were Kurds.
As a result of that, the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) got the power. The Kurdish locality of Syria is proved a semi-independent area. Administration, police, flag, army all are there in the Kurdish region. Unlike the other countries of Arab, Kurds removed the power of Islam from their constitution and legislation and proved themselves as secular countries. Mainly two factors are there that made the Kurds grow. The first one is the Isis’s development and extension in Iraq and Syria and the other one is the support of the forces of the Kurds to the ISIS in Syria as well as Iraq (LeBas, 2018). Australia, US, France, the United Kingdom, Canada, Spain, and Germany are some of the states from whom the weapons and ammunition were supplied and coaching was provided by them to the forces of Kurdish named peshmarga.
Lebanon Dynamics Vis-À-Vis the Syrian Conflict (Non Sunni Power and natural ally with Assad)
In the conflict of Syria, the government of Lebanon wanted to disconnect themselves from the issue as there was weakness felt in them. In many contexts, the declaration was provided by the leader of the group, Hezbollah that their movement was committed to the survival of Assad (Adam, 2018). There were some issues, which feared Hezbollah. The most important of it was the restriction from Iran in the supply of arms and weapons if failure is seen in the regime of Assad. The key objective of the Hezbollah group is to protect an administration that will provide support to them and additionally, Sunni jihadists can remain far from them.
The movement dominated by the Sunnis made ally with the opposite group so that the power of Syria on Lebanon can be weakened. For restoring the power of Sunni, approximately 1000 Sunni-Lebanese activists participated with Syria to fight in the opposition of the Assad government (Ansorg and Strasheim, 2019). As per the discussion, it was evident that many effects were there of the conflicts of Syria on different regions but the most affected one was Lebanon. The government of Najib Mikati fell down in 2013. It increased the tensions among the rivals of Lebanon. as a consequence of that, the conflicts of Syria was started.in the period of 1970s to 1980s, Different political happenings and movements in border areas gave way to another war in Lebanon.
Israel the Quiet Neighbour
The presence of Israelis must be mentioned in this essay because they were another part of the Syrian conflict. In the revolt against the government of Assad, the Isralies provided support to Syria and all they wanted is the failure of the administration of Assad (Park, 2018). As per the perspectives of the Israelis, by eliminating the regime of Assad, the evil issues related to it will come to an end which was ruling in Iran, Syria, Lebanon etc. with the appearance of jihadists, the point of view of the Israelis changed and they proved themselves as probable substitute of the regime of Assad. There were differences in the time before the conflicts and after the conflicts as concerns of Israelis changed in this time. The resources related to water and controlling Golan Heights were the focus of the Israelis before the conflicts.
Therefore, the two countries lived peacefully and no dispute was there. After the conflicts started in Syria, the focus of the Israelis shifted. Now, the capabilities of Syria in chemical weapons and the presence of the mutineer groups were seen to be their most important concerns (Vogel and Stearns, 2018). They were worried about the al-Qaeda groups and to get the power of the chemical weapons and its consequences made them bother about the issues. Though these issues were troubling Israel no tension was evident for the improvements that were taking place in Syria. As an example, it can be said that in the force of defence, Israel incorporated a division, which was equipped with updated weapons and trained properly (Kirmanj and Sadq, 2018). From this example, it was clear that Syria was no longer a threat of Israel.
In today’s world, there are many difficult issues and one of them is the conflict of Syria. Its consequences will change many aspects of the political nature of the world. Many facts will be implemented in the countries of the Middle East. The regional plan of the world is already become known. Three coalitions are now present on the map of the world. In the first coalition, the United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia are there providing support to the free army of Syria. The second one includes Iraq, Iran, Hezbollah, and Syria assisting the regime of Assad. In the third coalition, Qatar and turkey are present who are supporting the group of jihadists such as Jabhat al-Nusra and ISIS. In these three coalitions, the Turkish concern with the Kurdish issue is one of the important factors that play a major role in Syrian conflict. On the other hand, Iranian proved themselves the natural ally of Assad as they are non-Sunni power. In this whole conflict, the jihadist groups gain the most profit and they are continuously harming the countries, doing terrorism activities and trying to achieve their missions.