The day was March 15 when a group of young Syrians, probably fascinated and stirred by their North African neighbours’ courage, took to the streets of Daraa the “cradle of Syria’s uprising”, which eventually spread to the cities of Banias, Homs, and Damascus. Chanting “God, Syria and freedom only”, they protested against the dire economic situation, the regime’s brutality as well as state corruption and military apparatus.
After 10 years of war in Syria, sanctions have yet to achieve their purpose: a change in the behavior of the Syrian establishment. Syria is no longer bleeding out of control, but still has many open, sensitive wounds which have raised difficult moral and practical challenges for the countries issuing sanctions.
As the Arab Spring unfolded in the Middle East region back in 2011, Iran expressed its encouragement for the uprisings, naming them “Islamic Awakenings”. However, as the protests reached Damascus, Tehran offered its unwavering support to its longtime ally, the Assad regime.
While the “refugee crisis” in Europe and other western societies has often made the headlines, the vast majority of nearly seven million Syrian refugees still remain in neighboring countries including Turkey, Lebanon, and Jordan. The legal status and the diverse financial capacity of these refugees often determine and impacts the decision-making processes decisive of their faith. In this article, I will first discuss the living conditions of these refugees, still living in the countries neighboring Syria.
In 2011, hardly anyone could have predicted that a decade later violence would still be crippling Syria. In the midst of hostilities, several other countries have become embroiled in the conflict. Amongst them is Turkey, which has turned out to be one of the central actors of the civil war. Undoubtedly, this situation has marked a crucial turning point in Ankara’s traditional foreign policy with the Middle East, previously centred on a “zero problem with neighbours” approach.
The ten-year anniversary of the Syrian uprising marks a desperate moment. Above all for the millions of Syrians still suffering under the grip of a brutal regime and an economic crisis pushing the country towards famine.
Nearly 10 years after the beginning of the uprising turned into a war with multiple regional and international actors involved, the Syrian regime controls almost 70 percent of Syrian territory thanks to the political, economic, and military assistance provided by its allies, Russia and Iran. Damascus however faces huge socioeconomic challenges, which are far from being overcome.
Syria has just marked a decade of conflict. Ten years after Syrians took to the streets in the protest waves that gripped the Arab world in 2011, what began as an optimistic, peaceful public call for reform and change has given way to much pessimism and violence. The Syrian conflict is the result of the actions of several actors, both domestic and international, which has made it one of the most complex ongoing crises in the world.
Ten years into the war, no solution is in sight for Syria. One of the longest and most violent conflicts of our times resulted in an unprecedented humanitarian crisis with a dramatic balance: 500.000 victims, 13 million people in need, 6.6 million internally displaced persons, 5.6 million refugees, a broken economy, destroyed cities and infrastructures, collapsed education rates, and food security at risk.
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.