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….
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.