Syrian Conflict

The Syrian War started in 2011 as an uprising and protests against the government of Syria led by Bashar al-Assad. Originally, the rebel forces were known as the Free Syrian Army but later splintered into several different groups, one of which is ISIL (the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant). The conflict is complex, with several internal and external groups and nations fighting for control of Syria and Northern Iraq.

This conflict has grown in complexity with more groups and nations being pulled into it since the beginning in 2011, and all have participated in varying degrees. The major world players are Turkey, Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Israel, Lebanon, Russia and the United States. Some of the major non-state groups involved are; The Free Syrian Army, ISIL, the Kurds, and various other rebel groups.

Developments: Israel has declared the end of the Syrian Civil War this past week as fighting has dwindled down with only small pockets of resistance. In northern Syria, the Kurds are in talks with the Syrian government to reintegrate back into the country.

What to watch: Watch for what happens with the White Helmets, who were recently evacuated from the southern part of Syria, as they settle down in Canada, Great Britain and Germany. Look for negotiations between the Kurds in the north and the Syrian government, especially as the Kurds look to reintegrate back into Syrian society. Many, if not millions of Syrian refugees, will start returning home once stability is brought back to the region. About half of the country is thought to have fled the conflict, creating large populations of refugees in countries such as Germany.

Analysis: The timing of the end of the Syrian War lines up with what took place between President Trump and Vladimir Putin; Israel was also in talks with Russia before the summit in Helsinki. It looks like this civil war, which involved many countries including Russia and the United States, seems to be winding down. Russia, Iran and Assad can claim a win for their interests with a reintegrated Syria, and the mostly Kurdish northern area is apparently coming back under Assad’s rule.


War in Donbass, Ukraine, Ukrainian/Russian conflict

This conflict started in March of 2014 when pro-Russian rebels in the Donbass (Eastern Ukraine) took control of government buildings after the successful annexation of the Crimea near the Black Sea by Russia. This conflict is complex with both Russian and Ukrainian forces involved as well as pro-Russian rebel groups and separatists as well as Ukrainian militia groups involved. The Russian government is also thought to have played a major role in large-scale election meddling and cyber attacks on Ukrainian power grids and infrastructure during this conflict.

Developments: There is an organization known as the Organization for Security and Co-operation of Europe (OSCE), which has monitors who have observed some violations such as explosions and projectiles, and has also reported that over 160 people have been killed since the beginning of the year.