Rhetoric & Reality
Syria, a godforsaken country
On Thursday at least fifty-four people were killed in Syria near the Iraqi border in a US-coalition-led air strike on a village. The raid hit a gathering at an ice factory. The deaths include 28 civilians and the rest belong to the IS fighters. The death toll in the country continues to rise up with each day passing. There is no respite in sight yet.
In Syria, children are born amid war and violence. Soon after their births they know more about weapons and bombs rather than play materials. They play with guns as they gradually enter their adulthood. The only reality to them is war. They kill and are killed. They go to sleep at night without knowing if they can wake up the next day alive. Or if they are alive the next day they wake up to the sound of bombs pounding somewhere very close to them. This is the usual picture of everyday life in Syria now. Such is the hardest reality prevailing in Syria. Nobody knows how long the war will continue. Nobody knows after how many deaths the war will come to an end.
Civil war in Syria has entered its seventh year. All hell broke loose on the country after a justified struggle of people for freedom and democracy in 2011 inspired by the Arab Spring in neighbouring countries. Even before the Arab Spring people under the regime of Basgar al-Assad, who succeeded his late father Hafez al-Assad, complained about high employment, lack of freedom of speech and all-encompassing corruption.
People including women, workers and youths took to the street on that day shouting slogan 'No Kurds, no Arabs, the Syrians are one people'. The regime of Bashar al-Assad unleashed a reign of terror on the agitating people. Bashar's crackdown on freedom-loving people with brutality forced the opposition to take up arms leading the country to a civil war.
After that tens of thousands of people have been killed, millions of people, including women and children, have been wounded and half of the Syrians displaced. Syria is now impoverished with its economy battered and hope for survival shattered. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a UK-based monitoring group, said a total of 3, 53,900 people had been killed by March 2018 including 1, 06,000 civilians. The group also said 1, 00000 deaths had not been documented. The war has left 1.5 million people with permanent disability while 86,000 people have lost their limbs.
Over the past seven year proxy war has been raging in the country in the interest of the world imperialists. Each and every one is trying to reap its own benefit out of the crisis-ridden Syria. When the civil war broke out many of its neighbours came crashing down while Assad managed to withstand the onslaught and conspiracy of the West to topple his government backed by Russia and Iran. He is still in authority and holds the major cities under his control.
Now it is not a political battle only between the Assad regime and the opposition it has gone beyond that. Many countries have been involved with their own agenda to play their parts. Israel already chipped away the Golan Heights in the southwest of the country in 1967. Along the Lebanese border in the west Lebanese political movement Hizbollah created its buffer zone to prevent Al Qaeda from entering Lebanon. In the north, Turkey in January launched a military offensive codenamed 'Operation Olive Branch' against YPG (People's Protection Units) backed by the US. YPG, an armed Kurdish outfit, wants to carve out an autonomous Kurdish enclave along the Syria-Turkey border.
Turkish government under fascist Erdogan vowed to resist the Kurdish state along its border. As many as 6,000 Turkish troops and 10,000 Free Syrian Army (FSA) militia entered Syria to drive out Kurdish fighters. FSA is a mixture of reactionary militia. Of the components of the force, Al-Nusra Front is the strongest. Al-Nusra Front hunts down mainly Christians, Alawites, Kurds and revolutionaries. This front is mainly backed up by Arabia and Qatar though they have recently reduced their presence in the country.
For decades Kurdish people under the regime of Assad and his father Bashar al-Assad have suffered terribly. They were deprived of their citizenship and their rights to property. Private schools have been barred from teaching Kurdish language with their publications banned. Many of the Kurdish people were forced to leave Syria for different Arab countries. The region, Rojava, they live in is rich with gas and oil but very little was invested there prompting the Kurdish to take up arms under the banner of PYD (Democratic Union Party). Their main backer is the US. The YPD with its armed wing YPG declared Rojava, the north part of the country bordering Turkey a federal region.
Russia has a military base in Syria. Iran is providing training and finance to Lebanese Hizbollah to protect the Assad regime. The US, UK, France and other western countries are helping the Kurdish alliance YPD and Arab militia called Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) to weaken the influence of Russia and China and Iran in the Middle East. The US too deployed 2,000 of its own troops to Rojava, the Kurdish dominated northern part of Syria.
The region, especially Syria, is geo-strategically a very important area for the US and its NATO allies for its oil and gas. Again the shipping route through Mediterranean Sea is no less important. On top of that, for the US toppling of Assad is a prerequisite for its long-drawn plan to launch an attack on Iran from the Syrian land. Peace in Syria is eluding its people as the country has been entangled with so many players and stakeholders playing their parts with their own agendas. Had Assad been a democratic ruler and majority support around him he could have fought back. This is a direct clash between the interests of a despotic regime and imperialist states with no solution visible in near future.
The writer is a Senior Sub-Editor of
The Daily Observer