A-Sad Decade For Syria

Civil war in Syria

US imposed severe sanctions on Syria for its human rights violation, which will impact its international standing and economy.

Crux of the Matter

Caesar Act Passed
US President Trump recently imposed Caesar law on Syria which was reported as a measure to stop “brutal acts against the Syrian people by the Assad regime”. The law targets 39 entities/people, which include President Bashar-al-Assad, his wife Asma and several prominent people.

Sequence Of Events
The law is named after photographer Caesar, who delivered 50,000+ pictures of torture occurring inside Syrian prisons. The law reinforces the freezing of assets of Assad and Asma in US. There would be sanctions on outsiders who attempt to support the Syrian govt financially or in technology, and on outsiders who engage in construction deals for areas under Syrian govt.

However, several critics have pointed to further aggravation of the economy ravaged by civil war as well as the Covid-19 pandemic.

Further Family Conflict
Rifaat al-Assad, the uncle of Bashar-al-Assad, was recently sentenced to 4 years imprisonment by the Paris Court of France. He was found guilty of acquiring property worth $113 million in France and €29 million in England using Syrian state’s funds, consequently being ordered to pay €30,000 to anti-corruption agencies. Rifaat has been in exile in France since the 1980s after he attempted to replace Hafez al-Assad, father of Bashar, who was the then Syrian President.

Syrian Civil War – Timeline

  • 2011: Protests start in Syria to remove Al-Assad and install democracy. Eventually, they become violent and civil war ensues
  • 2012: Official condemnation of civil war by UN fails as China and Russia voted against the move
  • 2012: Israel fires shots on Syria in November as mortar shells damaged Israeli army post
  • 2014: US and allies attack ISIS targets there
  • 2016: Russia starts the withdrawal of troops
  • 2019: Turkey launches an attack on it after Trump announces withdrawal from Turkey-Syria border   

US Interventions
US supported the rebel groups against Al-Assad. The major rebel alliance was the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) comprising mainly of the Kurdish people. In 2014, it launched a major attack with its allies on the ISIS groups in Syria. It provided $1 billion to train and equip the rebels. However, President Trump cancelled the deal after annihilation caused by Russian forces.

In 2017, US upped its depredation by attacking the government airfields of Syria. In 2018, Trump partially reversed his decision to withdraw troops. In 2019, Trump withdrew forces from the Turkey-Syria border area while stating that Kurds are “not angels”, which was immediately attacked by Turkey through airstrikes.

Curiopedia
  • Bashar Hafez al-Assad is a Syrian politician who has been the President of Syria since 17 July 2000. In addition, he is the commander-in-chief of the Syrian Armed Forces and Regional Secretary of the Arab Socialist Ba’ath Party’s branch in Syria.
  • Bassel al-Assad was a Syrian engineer, colonel, and politician who was the eldest son of Hafez al-Assad and the older brother of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. It was widely expected that he would succeed his father as President of Syria until he died in a car accident in 1994.
  • The current coat of arms of Syria consists of the Hawk of Quraish supporting a shield bearing the national flag of Syria (in vertical form), and a scroll of the words “Syrian Arab Republic” in Arabic. Since the start of the ongoing Syrian Civil War in March 2011, alternative coats of arms have been created by the Syrian opposition and the Federation of Northern Syria.

Putin's Idlib Game, 2 Losers and A Winner

Amidst the fierce battle between Turkish and Syrian government forces in Syria’s Idlib province, the Turkish and Russian presidents; Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Vladimir Putin met on March 5 in Moscow to discuss a ceasefire deal.

Crux of the Matter

The tussle between Turkey and allied Syrian rebels and Russian-backed Syrian government forces could not be brought to end even after all possible diplomacy efforts.

According to the Syrian civil defense group, Russian airstrikes in Idlib have claimed 16 civilian lives and the Turkish Defence Ministry reported that 184 Syrian government force members were killed in the last 24 hours. Turkey said it has destroyed 3 Syrian planes and has destroyed hundreds of vehicles and equipment killing more than 3,000 soldiers since the operation was launched on February 27. United Nations has called this the worst humanitarian crisis as one million people have fled fighting in Idlib after the Syrian government launched a military assault.

In the past week, Russia-backed Syrian army launched an air attack that killed 33 opponent soldiers; Turkey retaliated with a military operation. The meeting of 2 leaders in Moscow is more crucial as it is a ground for recovering a deteriorating relationship between two economic partners. Before the meet, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that he expects to achieve a ceasefire after the talks with Vladimir Putin. Russia will try and maintain its balance between sparing Turkey and supporting Syria in the meet.

Putin had first turned down the meeting with Erdogan in January 2020. In February, Turkey had announced a four-way meeting on March 5 with France’s Emmanuel Macron, Germany’s Angela Merkel and Vladimir Putin but after 5 days of the announcement, Moscow stated that Putin had ‘other plans’ for March 5. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has hoped that some new agreements will be found in the Sochi framework after this meeting.

The 2018 Sochi Agreement
A ‘de-escalation zone’ with 12 observation towers around Idlib was created which did not prove to be much effective and it did not make any progress over the years. The Russian military accused Turkey of violating international law by sending troops into Idlib to make up a mechanized division. Turkey accused Russia of breaching the ceasefire agreed in 2018 numerous times.

If a solution is not reached at this point the Syrian crisis would get complicated and also harm the economic projects which Russia has invested in Turkey and undertaken projects which include defense system deals and building the Akkuyu Nuclear Plant. Russia may leverage these to pressurize Turkey to negotiate.

Putin just before the meeting, expressed his regret to President Erdogan for loss of 34 Turkish troops in an airstrike, saying the Syrian army had not known of their location. Ahead of the Moscow talks, Idlib residents have reported heavy shelling by Turkish troops and airstrikes by Russian and Syrian forces.

Though Russia has denied targeting civilians, Turkey’s Anadolu news agency reported that the strikes hit civilians.

Syria and its Refugee Crisis
Turkey hosts nearly 3.6 million Syrian refugees and says it cannot absorb more. To extract more funding from Europe, Turkey says it would not abide by the 2016 deal in which it stopped migrants crossing into the European Union in return for billions of euros in aid.

The Turkish President in a warning to Europe said, “Europe must support Turkey’s political and humanitarian solutions in Syria if it wants to avoid a repeat of the 2015 migration crisis.” Thousands of migrants have gathered at the Turkish-Greek border since President Erdogan asked them to try to enter Europe which has lead to clashes with Greek police.

James Jeffrey, the U.S. special representative said, “while the United States supports Turkey, it still has very serious concerns over Ankara’s purchase of Russian S-400 missile defenses last year.”

International Affairs Expert Fyodor Lukyanov said, “Both sides are not linked by mutual interests or trust, but by the impossibility to achieve their goals without the other party’s cooperation.”

Curiopedia

Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is the 12th and current president of the Republic of Turkey. He previously served as Prime Minister of Turkey from 2003 to 2014 and as Mayor of Istanbul from 1994 to 1998. In 1976, Erdoğan engaged in politics by joining the National Turkish Student Union, an anti-communist action group. In the same year, he became the head of the Beyoğlu youth branch of the Islamist National Salvation Party and was later promoted to chair of the Istanbul youth branch of the party. In 1983, Erdoğan followed most of Necmettin Erbakan’s followers into the Islamist Welfare Party. He became the party’s Beyoğlu district chair in 1984, and in 1985 he became the chair of the Istanbul city branch. More Info

The Idlib Demilitarization was an agreement between Turkey and Russia to create a demilitarized zone (DMZ) in Syria’s rebel-held Idlib Governorate, to be patrolled by military forces from Russia and Turkey. On 17 September 2018, the Russian president Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan reached an agreement to create a buffer zone in Idlib. After the deal, on 19 September, the Syrian military attacked positions held by HTS and its allies, in the Hama-Latakia-Idlib axis, stating that it has still not withdrawn its troops from the area. The deal’s terms were never implemented fully. Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) never left the demilitarized zone and, to the contrary, launched a full-scale offensive against the other rebel groups remaining within the rebel-held Idlib Governorate. More Info

USA Retaliates on Iran: Iraqi & Syrian Sites Backed by Iran Attacked

USA, in a retaliation move, attacked five sites in Iraq and Syria of Shiite-Muslim-backed Kataib Hezbollah group, killing 25 people and injuring several others. Attack on these facilities, allegedly backed by Iran, was to cripple the organisation’s capacity to demolish American troops and shelter. Iraqi Prime Minister has termed this as ‘a treacherous stab in the back‘.

Crux of the Matter
  • The retaliation of USA comes after Kataib Hezbollah (KH) bulldozed American military’s facilities and injured their army personnel.
  • Of the five targeted sites of the Shia-backed KH, three were in Iraq and two in Syria. All the sites were being used as weapon storage facilities and as control centres to carry out attacks on coalition forces fighting the IS.
  • The air-strike from the F-15 Strike Eagle jet killed at least 25 and injured several.
  • “Iraq was informed only 30 minutes prior to the attack. These strikes are like a treacherous stab in the back.” said Iraqi spokesman.
  • Prime Minister of Iraq said, “We have already confirmed our rejection of any unilateral action by coalition forces or any other forces inside Iraq. We consider it a violation of Iraq’s sovereignty and a dangerous escalation that threatens the security of Iraq and the region,”.
  • The tense situation between USA and Iran has many a times culminated into drone strikes and attacks from both ends.
Curiopedia

USA – Iran Ties – Tensions between Iran and the United States escalated in May 2019, with the U.S. deploying more military assets to the Persian Gulf region after receiving intelligence reports of an alleged “campaign” by Iran and its “proxies” to threaten U.S. forces and Strait of Hormuz oil shipping. American officials pointed to threats against commercial shipping and potential attacks by militias with Iranian ties on American troops in Iraq while also citing intelligence reports that included photographs of missiles on dhows and other small boats in the Persian Gulf, supposedly put there by Iranian paramilitary forces. More Info