The Syrian conflict: the start


CC Image courtesy of FreedomHouse on Flickr

CC Image courtesy of FreedomHouse on Flickr

The ongoing conflict in Syria has, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, surpassed the death toll of 100,000. What started with protests around March 2011 has, within the last two years, become a civil war.

Like other countries in the region, a big part of the Syrian population seemed to be grasped by what has come to be known as the Arab spring. But unlike many of these other countries (like Egypt and Tunisia), the protests in Syria did not, in the long run, amount to the resignation of its president Bashar al Assad. The Syrian protests shifted from street protests to street fights after the Syrian army reacted with great force on the protests and send tanks to protest hotspots like Hama. This lead to a great amount of arrest and the first casualties of what has come to be known in the media as: the Syrian war.

The amount of violence has since grown and so has the amount of blood that has been spilled. The conflict has known a violent escalation. At first it resembled the struggle the world had witnessed in Libya and as was the case with Libya the West was quick to verbally express its support for the Syrian People and its hunger for freedom. Unlike the conflict in Libya however, the West did not back these words of understanding and support they spoke with action. No no-fly-zone was imposed and support in the form of arms and other means have been of a slow start. The Syrian army however has won time to regroup itself and develop tactics to react to the public defiance of al Assad. While the Free Syrian Army struggles against the heavier weaponry of a trained military force, begging the West for support by material means. The Syrian army has got unconditional support from Russia, Iran en Hezbollah. Around June 2013 this combination of factors and influences accumulated in the battle for Qusayr near the Lebanese border. The Syrian army backed up by Hezbollah fighters defeated the Free Syrian Army and the other factions that had, by this time, been drawn into the conflict.

The involvement in Syria of many other factions and parties has led to tension not only in Syrian but other countries in the region. Recently violence has also spread across the border to Lebanon and Iraq.

I have been following the conflict for some time now. And it has been interesting and horrifying to see how the conflict has developed. It has raised many questions; why is the West so slow to react? What does the conflict mean for this region and geopolitical tensions? What will be done to solve the conflict and how will it develop itself in the coming time? I will be keep following the conflict closely and I hope to find answers to these questions among others.


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