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: Approximately 7,000 children have either been killed or injured, according to a U.N. report which has been ongoing since the start of the war. The Syrian Kurds have reportedly started talks for an eventual decentralized Syria with the Kurds having some autonomy in Northern Syria.

What to watch: There are a few things to look out for in the coming days and weeks with this conflict. Many are left to wonder what will happen to both the “White Helmets” who have left Syria as they flee to countries such as Germany, Britain and Canada as well as the hundreds of white helmet volunteers left to deal with Assad and the Russians who have retaken much of Syria back from the rebels.

The refugees who left Syria may be expected to return, though many will not want to due to possible reprisals from Assad. Russia has called for the return of many of the refugees, and it is not clear what will happen to them.

Analysis: The war itself seems to be winding down, and there is a lot of talk in regards to rebuilding Syria and who gets to rebuild. It is more than likely that Assad will not want much help from Western countries, and that he will prefer help rebuilding from Russia and China — both of which have interests in the Middle East. Russia has a military presence in Syria and they have a strategic reason for wanting Assad to remain in power. China has its reasons for wanting to help build Syria, such as a greater worldwide influence in foreign affairs as well as business aspirations.

With so many refugees coming back to the region, it would most likely be in the interest of the international community to help these displaced people enter back into the workforce and educate them. The alternative is that although badly defeated many times, ISIS is still a threat in that area of the world, and you must offer significant alternatives to keep people from being lured into extremist organizations such as ISIS or like-minded groups. This can create a breeding ground for more extremism with such large populations returning or even being discriminated against.