Update on Syria

TLDR:

The conflict continues and is complicated bc this has turned into a proxy war between USA, Turkey, Russia, Israel, Iran (and maybe Saudi Arabia).

Here’s Syria on a map: It’s bordered by….

Image result for syria map middle east
Most people can’t find Syria on a map. If you were one of them, you aren’t any longer 🙂

Syria’s bordered by (from 12 o’clock, clockwise): Turkey, Iraq, Jordan, Israel, Lebanon, and the Mediterranean Sea.

The Main players:

  • Assad (backed by Russia and Iran, and “Shia” groups)
  • The “Rebels”: have little in common, besides a dislike for Assad. Example groups: Jaysh al Islam and Ahrar al Sham
  • The Kurds (in the north), allied with USA
  • Turkey (fighting Kurds)
  • Israel (in the south, trying to prevent high tech weapons from getting into enemy hands)
  • ISIS (prev. in the south; currently, they’ve lost almost all their territory)

It began like any other civil war: a dictator who wanted to stay in power using any means necessary

Assad is brutal and willing to do ANYTHING to stay in power. The conflict started with peaceful protests in 2011. Assad responded with violence, chemical weapons etc.. He thinks of rebel groups as terrorists.

They’re rebelling for different reasons.

Don’t have much in common besides a dislike for Assad. The Kurds in the north – 20M people – never had own state. Fighting for autonomy and against ISIS.

But the conflict has evolved into something else: a global proxy war. Think Vietnam or Afghanistan in the 80s-90s

The conflict is messy because it’s become a proxy war for international powers. Russia is allied with Assad because it needs Tartus (its only Mediterranean port). Iran is involved to counter the influence of Saudi Arabia. USA and Turkey are somewhat pro-rebels. Turkey takes refugees. The US didn’t act decisively when it could have removed Assad, now nobody seriously considers ousting him. Instead, the US focused on removing ISIS. USA trained the “Syrian Democratic Forces” (mostly Kurds) to fight ISIS. Turkey fears the Kurds because there’s a large Kurdish population in Turkey; so if they get powerful in Syria, they might empower Kurds in Turkey. Hence, Turkey is fighting the Kurds.

Image result for syria map
7 years of war. the civil war has shifted into a global power

Published by

Rishi

Rishi is an MD-PhD Student at USC Keck School of Medicine. He is interested in developing mathematical tools to drive clinical decision making. His current research interests include applying techniques from bayesian statistics, 3D graphics, and bioinformatics to study tumor heterogeneity and microenvironment. In his free time, Rishi enjoys playing the guitar, drinking chai, doing yoga, playing judo, and reading widely about science and innovation.

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