Middle Eastern news is rarely considered “new” news. The region has been at war, or in some people’s opinion, conflict, since the League of Nations and Great Britain (now the United Kingdom (UK)) tried to organize territories and institute a form of democracy more than half a century ago. Egypt, Libya, Iran, Iraq, and Turkey all have seen casualties brought from the 2010 Arab Spring. Syria’s Civil War is just the most recent example which is discussed in this sample essay.
What is the fighting in Syria about?
Though Syria’s war mimics many recent conflicts, it does have special characteristics caused from recent terrorist group action and international support. Syrian revolutionists, called rebels by the Syrian Government and some international reports, found themselves stuck fighting a war on two fronts. Both the Syrian military and terrorist groups are trying to strong-arm rebel territory. The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) – also named the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) catapulted Syria’s Civil War to a new level when it claimed the region as part of its Islamic caliphate.
A catalyst to civil war: How did the Arab Spring start Syria’s war?
The Arab Spring was a societal, political movement that started December 19, 2010 in Tunisia. A group of Tunisians started a revolutionary wave of demonstrations and protests. These protests often were violent and soon turned to civil war in several countries. The revolutions spread to the Arab League nations and surrounding countries, including Egypt, Libya, Syria, Jordan, Yemen, Bahrain, and Saudi Arabia (SourceWatch). Syria’s Civil war is but one of the examples of flourishing movements still in place.
Syria joined the Arab Spring movement for several reasons. Syria’s part in the Arab Spring started January 26, 2011. It was the direct result of police brutality against an unarmed man in the Damascus region (SourceWatch). Protesters demanded the man’s release from custody and started semi-violent protests.
These protests did not go over well with the government, which responded with extreme measures including the kidnapping, torture and killing of protesters. Government troops began opening fire on civilians, who fired back in response. (Wiersema)
The main starting point of the war began when the government targeted children. Children were arrested for writing defamatory slogans about the government in March 2011 in the southern city of Deraa (SourceWatch). Protesters demanded they leave the children at peace and started demonstrating against the government (Rodgers et al.). Assad’s security forces opened fire on demonstrators, killing and wounding many. Still more demonstrators took to the streets to protest the tyrannical leader.
Official revolutions and civil war was declared July 31, 2011, after the government killed 136 people, marking the highest death toll at the time since the Arab Spring started. Over the course of five years, rebels demanded the resignation of Assad, agreeing to stop the war if he left and an impartial election was maintained. Since then Assad has made no attempt to step down from power. Instead he used extreme force, including traditional and biochemical military attacks, to force the rebels to comply (SourceWatch).
ISIS: Where does the brutal terrorist group fit in to all of this?
Since the Civil War started five years ago, rebellion fighting took on many faces. ISIS was one of those masks. Much of the war started with secular activists aimed on overthrowing Assad. But the president’s forces were too strong and many Islamic forces took to the streets. Sunnis and Shiites started fighting among themselves, and ISIS took advantage of the chaos and placed troops in the region (News.com.au). ISIS took control of huge areas of territory across northern and eastern Syria, as well as neighboring Iraq. This conflict now is called a “war within a war” (News.com.au).
President Barack Obama responded to the threat of ISIS in the area September 2014 and sent a join, U.S.-led military group to Syria. The group launched air strikes inside Syria and offered support to the rebel Kurds (News.com.au). While the joint mission makes every effort to prevent the spread of ISIS-led forces, the tactical situation was not designed to give even side an advantage in the Civil War (News.com.au). The group is careful not to take military action to aid the rebels or give Assad an upper hand (News.com.au).
World Affiliations: How does Syria’s Civil War affect other nations?
While fighting is reserved for the streets of Syria, the war has dealt costly blows to other nations, even as far as Europe and the United States (U.S.). The World Bank reports countries in the Middle East and across the world are suffering from the crisis. One prime example is Lebanon. The World Bank reports:
Lebanon is suffering economic losses as a side-effect of the Syrian crisis, with government revenues expected to fall dramatically because of interrupted trade and the loss of business and consumer confidence. An extra 300,000 Lebanese may lose their jobs this year; about 170,000 may be pushed into extreme poverty.
While this primarily is caused by millions of refugees flooding the region, trade with other countries also effects the region. The war has made it difficult for neighboring countries to conduct traditional trade and compromises key trade routes (The World Bank).
Refugees mentioned earlier hurts more than Lebanon’s fragile economy. European nations are allowing Syrian refugees to enter under asylum protection. Those nations show significant signs of wear. While a recent International Monetary Fund (IMF) study claims refugees will boost to the European economy, the experiences in Turkey and Germany show those gains come after years of extreme pressure on an already fragile system (Goldstein).
As Syria’s neighbor, Turkey received about half of the Syrian refugee, about two million – or 2.5 percent of its national population – since March 2011 (Goldstein). The nation spent nearly $8 billion to house and feed refugees, but refugees have a difficult time stimulating the economy (Goldstein). Under Turkey law, Syrian refugees are only allowed to work in the informal sector (Goldstein). The report shows immigrants earn 20 percent less than natives with similar jobs (Goldstein). Their wages slightly increase each year. The gap increases to near equal with natives within a 20-year span (Goldstein). Turkey must wait 20 years before immigrants make enough money to pay back their assistance (Goldstein).
Safety is of primary concern, both because citizens are concerned about the immigrants flooding their country and ISIS’s retaliation against Europe for its involvement in Syria. ISIS has made several threats and actual violent attacks. Group leaders claim they are retaliating against American and European involvement in the Syrian Civil War (Yourish, et al.). The most recent attack in Brussels was ISIS’s first time to prove it could coordinate advanced attacks inside the West (Yourish, et al.). The group downed a Russian passenger jet – killing all 224 people on board and killed more than 100 people in an attack in Paris (Yourish, et al.).
Syria’s Civil War has many implications. But the most important is the people’s freedom. Syrians grew tired and impatient with a government that represented one side of the coin. Not all citizens were represented equally, and the government used extreme, often violent, measures to control the population. This led to a revolution. The people rebelled and met the governments tyranny with equal force.
Goldstein, Steve. “Here’s the real economic impact refugees make on Europe’s economy.” Market Watch. 22 Jan. 2016. Web. 31 May 2016. http://www.marketwatch.com/story/what-the-turkish-german-experience-says-about-the-economic-impact-from-refugees-2016-01-21.
News.com.au. “10 simple points to help you understand the Syria conflict.” 27 Aug. 2013. Web. 31 May 2016. http://www.news.com.au/world/simple-points-to-help-you-understand-the-syria-conflict/story-fndir2ev-1226705155146.
Rodgers, Lucy, David Gritten, James Offer and Patrick Asare. “Syria: The story of the conflict.” British Broadcasting Channel, (BBC). 11 Apr. 2016. Web. 31 May 2016. http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-26116868.
SourceWatch. “Arab Spring.” The Center for Media and Democracy (CMD). 13 Mar. 2015. Web. 31 May 2016. http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php/Arab_Spring.
Wiersema, Alisa. “Everything You Need to Know About the Syrian Civil War.” ABC News. 31 Aug. 2013. Web. 31 May 2016. http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/syrian-civil-war/story?id=20112311.
The World Bank. “The World Bank and the Impact of the Syrian Crisis.” 17 Mar. 2014. Web. 31 May 2016. http://www.worldbank.org/en/news/feature/2014/03/17/the-world-bank-and-the-impact-of-the-syrian-crisis.
Yourish, Karen, Derek Watkins, and Tom Giratikanon. “Where ISIS Has Directed and Inspired Attacks Around the World.” The New York Times. 22 Mar. 2016. Web. 31 May 2016. http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2015/06/17/world/middleeast/map-isis-attacks-around-the-world.html.