In the summer of 2013, most commentaries on the Syrian civil war’s effect on Iraq’s Sunni population argued that the rise of Syria’s Sunnis against the government in Damascus had emboldened their co-religionists across the border, providing a morale boost to the Iraqi community that feels marginalized by a Shia-dominated Iraqi state, closely allied to Shia Iran. However, what was neglected in these assessments was the “cause and effect” relationship between the Syrian civil war and the deteriorating security situation in Iraq.
The Syrian regime's reliance on foreign forces (Russia, Iran and its Shia militia proxies) to turn the tide in its favor since 2015 has cast doubt on its ability to regain long-term sovereignty. Hybridity of security governance includes not only those foreign forces, but also the absorption of pro-government Syrian militias and even former rebel groups which have returned to the fold.
North Korea (DPRK) and Syria could have never been closer than today. On April 13th, at night, Donald Trump ordered to bomb Damascus with 120 Tomahawks, which were directly aimed at Assad’s suspected chemical facilities. A similar military operation was conducted exactly twelve months earlier, followed by the delivery of a GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast – known as MOAB (Mother of All Bombs) – to an ISIS camp in Afghanistan.
Among the many diplomatic challenges that post-election Russia is going to face, perhaps its relations in the Middle East and the Syrian war are the greatest. Moscow will have to reap the rewards of a Middle Eastern foreign policy, which, despite having brought Russia back to the stage of global politics, risks seriously overstretching the Kremlin.
Only months ago, expectations were high that the Syrian civil war was coming to an end. But today, it seems that the war for Syria is just beginning. New disturbing scenarios are opening up. Weeks ago, tensions between Iran and Israel over Syria reached an all-time high. Meanwhile, the Turkish military began the operation "Olive Branch" in the Kurdish-controlled Afrin district in the northern region of the country.
The years preceding the Arab Spring were rather calm ones for the armed forces of the Arab world: two major conventional campaigns (Iraq 2003 and Lebanon 2006) barely involved the military, and terrorism was mostly under control in Algeria and Yemen. Elsewhere all was quiet on the Arab front. The Arab Spring changed this in more ways than one: to start with, it turned the militaries of Tunisia, Syria and Egypt into political actors, and split those of Yemen and Libya in two.