Monday 22 April 2019 ,
Latest News
Sri Lanka serial blasts: Death toll hits 207 | Two Bangladeshis missing after Sri Lanka blasts | Journalist Mahfuz Ullah still alive, says daughter | Stand against terrorism: Hasina | President, PM condemn Sri Lanka attacks | Foreign Minister mourns loss of lives in Sri Lanka |
18 March, 2019 00:00 00 AM

Print

Syria war has changed the world beyond recognition

In addition to tragedies too numerous to count, the international system has been undermined in a way that will be felt for decades
Kareem Shaheen

Eight years of war and upheaval, half a million dead and millions more displaced, countless wounded and hundreds of chemical attacks. The story of a revolution undone.

Most Syrians who marched out onto the streets in 2011 to protest the Assad dynasty’s brutality had no inkling of what was to come. Inspired by protests in Egypt and Tunisia, they overcame a generational barrier of fear of public dissent.

Then the whole world conspired to crush them.

The picture today is one in which the nation's president Bashar Al Assad and his Iranian and Russian allies have prevailed over a fractious opposition, that was undermined from within by factionalism and the rise of brutal jihadist groups, and from without by the regime’s impunity and the international community’s abandonment of core ideals.

A bird’s-eye view of the battlefield confirms this, at least on the surface.  Al Assad was once on the verge of defeat, his forces retreating to the western part of the country referred to as “useful Syria”. Top officers were assassinated, western officials predicted the regime’s downfall, provincial capitals were falling to rebel militias. Aleppo was split in half and even Damascus seemed vulnerable.

Then, in 2015, Russia intervened – and together with Assad’s allies in Tehran and their proxies, such Hezbollah – began clawing back inch after inch of rebel territory. First came the mountainous regions on the Lebanese border, then Homs, which was once the capital of the revolution. With the Kremlin’s involvement, the stage was set for a campaign to reclaim Aleppo, then the suburbs of Damascus, followed by Daraa, where the protests were born. Now  Al Assad presides over most of the country, except for three regions. The province of Idlib is under the control of rebels who bear no resemblance to the protesters who bravely defied the regime’s security agencies. Dominated by extremists once affiliated with Al Qaeda, the province is home to three million people, nearly half of whom are internal refugees. A military offensive will spell untold humanitarian catastrophe.

Part of the north is controlled by another faction of rebels, themselves nothing but proxies of neighbouring Turkey, who are more interested in battling their Kurdish enemies than the regime that crushed their rebellion. In the east, those Kurdish militias hold sway with American backing, which may or may not be withdrawn at any moment by presidential tweet.

ISIS, once the sum of all the world’s extremist nightmares, has largely been defeated by force of arms, though, predictably, it may see a resurgence. After all, the injustices that created the conditions in which it began to thrive have not been addressed. Syrians are barely getting by, with high levels of poverty and unemployment. Gas shortages signal that a state that was once all-powerful can no longer provide subsidies that citizens previously took for granted. The UN stopped counting the dead long ago, but estimates are upwards of 500,000. Half the country’s pre-war population of 20m has been displaced, including 5.6m in neighbouring countries. Tens of thousands have gone back, risking arrest or worse, in flight from the prejudice and populism taking hold of Europe.

Siege warfare that led to malnutrition and starvation was repeatedly deployed by the regime. Increasingly, it seemed that laws of war that had been established for a century and a half were nothing more than dust in the wind.

The writer is a journalist based in Beirut, Lebanon

 

Comments

Poll
Today's Question »
State minister for power Nasrul Hamid yesterday said everyone to have access to electricity by June. Do you think the feat achievable by the timeframe?
 Yes
 No
 No Comment
Yes 52.6%
No 43.5%
No Comment 4.0%
Most Viewed
E-Paper
More Editorial stories
School dropout Bangladesh is still way behind in ensuring full enrollment as well as stopping dropout of students especially at the secondary level. The annual report of the UNFPA, the 'State of World Population…

Copyright © All right reserved.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Disclaimer & Privacy Policy
....................................................
About Us
....................................................
Contact Us
....................................................
Advertisement
....................................................
Subscription

Powered by : Frog Hosting