The overlapping of civil and proxy wars in Libya, Syria, Iraq, and Yemen have gradually turned the wider Mediterranean into a land of conflicts, asymmetric threats and geopolitical challenges. In particular, the implosion of some coastal states of the southern shore has undermined the stability and legitimacy of the old regional system built in the post-Cold war. This shift has unequivocally stressed a new perception of the Mediterranean arena: an expanded and wider space turned in one of the world’s most volatile regions.
The COVID-19 pandemic is acting as an accelerator for food insecurity in conflict zones, impacting food availability, access, and humanitarian assistance, as well as potentially giving rise to new social tensions as a result of the economic consequences of the lockdown.
The Covid-19 pandemic may change many things in international affairs, but thus far, it has failed to alter the conflict dynamics in Syria. Even more, as the Astana trio’s recent initiatives have illustrated, the main players of the Syrian conflict are vying to deepen their footprints in the country.
While many that research jihadism have focused on how the Islamic State (IS) has responded to the coronavirus pandemic, IS no longer actually controls territory in Iraq or Syria. Therefore, at best all they can do is provide guidance.
The areas in north and north east Syria, currently referred to as being under “Kurdish" control, are sometimes called Rojava, more officially referred to as the Democratic Self Administration (DSA) area. This administration is lead under strong influences from the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a coalition of mainly Kurdish, but also some Arab and Assyrian forces that came together, with support from the US-led coalition, to combat ISIS in those areas.
It's been almost a decade into a devastating war that displaced two thirds of the population, hundreds of thousands of whom barely survive in makeshift, chaotic camps. Syrians had barely come to terms with the latest regime attacks on the north-western Idlib province, which made over 60 health facilities inoperable and displaced over 1 million civilians.
Since October 17, 2019, unprecedented popular protests have erupted in Lebanon motivated by demands for socio-economic rights and the reform of a highly corrupted and sectarian political system. The deterioration of economic and social conditions in Lebanon has also affected the 1.5 million Syrian refugees as well as the Palestinians and other communities of displaced people living in the country.
Over the last eight years the Syrian conflict has developed into one of the worst humanitarian tragedies of modern times. More than half a million victims, 5 million refugees abroad and 6 million internally displaced: the figures only capture part of Syria’s catastrophe. In addition, there is the less quantifiable damage to the country’s social fabric.
On 7 August 2011, the then Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan declared the Syrian issue to be a ‘domestic affair’ for Turkey and that his country could not stay idle in the face of the political crisis in Syria. Almost eight years later, the Syrian crisis has indeed become an issue of Turkish domestic politics, albeit not in the way President Erdogan envisaged. At the beginning of the Syrian crisis in 2011, Turkey was seeking to project its power throughout the Middle East, seeing its immediate neighbourhood as Ankara’s hinterland.