The war that had been going on for more than a decade and has pushed an entire area into famine and chaos is seemingly approaching its end. The ten years-long Syrian civil war is slowly fading from headlines.
But who will be governing the country after the final conclusion of the civil war? What are the stumbling blocks awaiting Syria? And what grim lessons have the world learned for Syria’s decade long war?
10 years of destruction in Syria
With about half a million people dead and 12 million forced to displace, the civil war has made Syria suffer from one of the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. The war tore Syria into two rival parts and is run by different groups which are backed by different local and international actors.
Economic crisis coupled with surging coronavirus cases is further worsening the already dire condition. Syrians who still reside in the country and millions of those who have moved into the neighbouring countries are in dire need of humanitarian aid.
According to Aljazeera, around 6.6 million country’s resident has fled ever since the civil chaos started, whereas 6.1 million were forced to displace to safer areas within Syria. 9.3 million Syrians are currently suffering from food insecurity. The United Nations calls the condition in Syria, ‘the worst man-made disaster‘ post-world war second.
According to the Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic, thousands of Syrians in the Detention sites are subjected to physical abuse, sexual violence and even deaths in captivity. An investigation report examining more than 100 specified detention facilities in Syria will be submitted to the Human Rights Council in Geneva in the coming week.
Who will be leading Syria after the war finally ends?
President Bashar al-Assad’s government backed by Iran and Russia is emerging as the new governing power of the country amongst the divided regions. Though the fighting is not yet fully over as the northwestern region (Idlib) is still out of governmental control. The last attempt by the Russian-backed Syrian army in early 2020 to retake Idlib ended up in clashes with the Turkish forces which was protecting Ankara’s client Militias.
The situation in the North-western region remains volatile as U.S. forces have been removed from the Turkey borders; but Russian, Syrian and Turkish forces still on stand in the region along with the Syrian Kurdish Militias and other proxies. The again surging fightings at Idlib is causing the humanitarian crisis, adding to the war’s already hefty humanitarian cost. The current death toll by officials is 0.4 million, but experts believe the real figures to be much higher.
Awaiting stumbling blocks for Bashar al-Assad
Even once the war comes to an end, Assad will have to face many challenges in rebuilding the country as one; especially in the places where he intentionally deployed chemical weapons on its own citizens. Furthermore, European and Western countries including the US is unwilling to work with the Assad regime.
Post regaining control over the country’s inhabited regions, building the place to be habitable again would be a difficult task to accomplish, neither did he have the money required to do it all. The cost of reconstruction of war-torn areas in Syria is estimated to be $250 billion by the UN and Moscow is unlikely to financially help the country.
Though for after the Islamic State lost its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, it no longer posses much control over any Syrian territory; but it has not been eradicated and still have a considerable number of fighters and could still raise to carry out terror attacks in Syria or somewhere else. Therefore dealing with the Islamic State would still be a challenge for the country.
Moreover, despite the end of the civil war, the humanitarian crisis in Syria is far from over. According to the UN, 13.1 million Syrians are in dire need of assistance and the numbers can still surge if the skirmishes in Idlib is not brought to a halt.
Lastly, the world has not forgotten the century’s greatest war crimes committed by Assad. The terrible systematic torture and atrocities carried out by the Assad regime are slowly coming to light, but the accountability and justice still seem remote.
The grim lessons
The Arab Spring triggered the war in Syria have not just hurt Syria, but the entire world. The unending misery and chaos that cause innumerable to suffer from killings, torture and abuse is something that will stay with in the world’s memory as one of the worst humanitarian crisis of all times. Chemical weapons, impunity, Islamic State (Isis) and the failure of the entire world to stop the war a long time before will be the grim lessons that the world will remember from the decade-log civil war in Syria and in the neighbouring countries.