War In Syria

By Naveed Qazi | Editor, Globe Upfront

Syria is in a threatening war. The country has witnessed the most coercive retaliations, in recent times, when Russian airstrikes helped the Syrian army to capture all rebel held territories in Latakia, in August 2013. 

The Syrian army, using Russian armour and tanks, is pushing north, to seal its authority, by coming close to the Turkish border, thereby further increasing enmities, between the two countries. 

However, the Russian foreign ministry has declared, that it ‘has still not received convincing evidence of civilian deaths, as a result of Russian air strikes’.

Three players namely Kurds, Syrians and Turks play a crucial part in the giddy politics, vexing the region. Americans, right now, are tasking themselves as pacifiers, by inviting restraint, for all parties involved.

The escalation between them has also agitated Russia, to the point that many political commentators see these developments, as the beginning of a new cold war, between the Western powers (precisely NATO), and Russia, after the annexation of Crimea, and conflict in eastern Ukraine. 

Russia is trying to flank NATO, which has the authority to launch an offensive, under its charter, and there is also a chance of war, between Turkey and Russia, over the cities of Aleppo and Latakia.

Turkey seems to be currently using ISIS against Kurds. as a strategic resource in Syria. Many analysts believe that Turkey cannot send its troops inside Syria, which almost looks like an offensive.

The invasion of the Kurdish canton of Kobani, where ISIS razed dozens of villages, and executed hundreds of people, resulted in the migration of Kurds, escaping the war, and moving northwards. The pre-war population was 300,000, and after the attack, it swelled to 500,000.

Factually, more than two million Kurds, near the south of Turkey, want to carve out an autonomous state. They have divided their claimed territory into three cantons, which they call 'Rojava,' the Kurdish word for sun. In retaliation, car bombs and suicide attacks by ISIS, have recently plagued the region.

The region has one of the most arable lands. The schools are run, and salaries are given, by the Damascus-based Assad regime.

Medicines are transported amidst hostile territories, from the Syrian capital, and civil aircraft are also controlled from Damascus.

In history, the freedom of Kurds was rejected, by the Arab leaders, after Syria's independence in 1946.

Syrians ‘Arabised’ them. However, the present government in the disputed region is run by the militia, who are currently promoting Kurdish cultural institutions, on TV, and radio stations.

They also take pride, in their secularism, and gender equality. The movement is led by the Kurdish Democratic Union Party, and its military arm, the YPG, in Syria. 

Soviets had supported the Kurdish cause, in northern Iraq, and even in these times, Russia dispatched some two hundred military advisors, to the Syrian city of Qamlishi, in an attempt to secure an airport, for its use. 

Putin, with the help of Russian intelligence, is also trying to reconcile warring Syrian factions, by identifying rebel groups and cutting a deal with them, on which Pentagon spent billions of dollars, and failed.

Kurds were also recently used by Americans, to fight Daesh, with the help of US air support. However, few had predicted, that Kurds would play a double game, by appeasing both the United States and Russia. Saudis have also joined in their goal of freeing the region of ISIS, with US support.

There is an anti-Kurdish panic in Ankara. Quite recently, peace talks between the Riyadh-based opposition, and the Syrian government happened, and Kurds were excluded from the talks, due to vehement Turkish opposition. 

The Turks have said that they want a no-fly zone, to be established, in the very area from Jarabulus to Azaz, that the Kurds want to take from ISIS, and other jihadis.

Turkish officials in Ankara claim that the no-fly scheme would block the Syrian air force, and create a haven for Syrian civilians, escaping Assad’s attacks. The Kurds see the scheme, as a device, to permit the Turks to bomb any YPG fighters, who enter the area.

Turkey always has seen Kurdish nationalists with contempt. Turkish artillery support, in the rebel towns of Allepo and Latakia, has failed strategically, as Syria's army and Lebanon's Hezbollah fighters have been fighting there.

That’s why, in February 2016, the Turkish military and its armoured vehicles, have been seen lingering around the Syrian border, and building trenches, and concrete walls.

The country is also providing military supplies, to anti-Damascus militants, thereby increasing volatility in the region. Even after five years, Syria has experienced war weariness and heightened anxiety in its politics. Only a coherent peace process can help the situation.



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