The war in Syria has been raging for five years. A crisis that began as a local popular uprising turned into a conflict in which players are both inside and outside the country. It has become so difficult to follow.
The American-Russian truce
The truce made by the Russians and the Americans collapsed despite the determination to find a solution to the conflict that has been going on for more than five years.
Over time, the protest movement that started as a shield has turned into a complex conflict, with many players between Syrians and foreigners, each with its own goals and role, at a time when civilians are paying the highest bill for this war.
The result is more than 300,000 dead, thousands missing, millions displaced at home, and refugees abroad. Not to mention massive destruction and a collapsing economy.
What is the role of the Syrian forces?
In contrast to the regime’s forces, several multidirectional armed factions, mostly Islamist, some jihadist, and almost all supported by outside parties.
The Islamic State is exploiting these divisions within the established opposition and controlled large areas of the country.
To counter the expansion of the group, an international coalition set up to conduct airstrikes on specific targets, led by the United States, involving Western powers including France, Middle Eastern actors such as Jordan, and the Kurds.
Where is the conflict now on the ground? Who’s with who? Who against whom? What is Russia’s strategy? What about the international community’s fight against the Islamic State?
The Turkish intervenes in Syria
Ankara has officially committed to fighting the Islamic State in Syria through Operation Euphrates Shield. Turkey’s real goal is to stop the Syrian Kurds taking over more territory.
Turkey announced that the opposition factions it supported would continue to advance south.
“As part of Operation Euphrates Shield, 900 km2 was cleared. We can expand this area to 5,000 km2″. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said.
Ankara relies on groups such as the Zinke and Sultan Murad Brigades, which rely mainly on Turkmen, an ethnic group of Sunni Muslims close to Turkey, and other opposition factions close to the Muslim Brotherhood such as Jayesh al-Islam.
What are the goals of the Kurds?
The Kurds occupy northeastern Syria. Since the start of the Syrian conflict, the Kurdish Democratic Union (KDP), the Syrian branch of the Kurdistan Workers ‘ Party (PKK), which Ankara classifies as a terrorist faction, has been defending the area against any attack, whether by the regime or armed opposition factions.
Since the withdrawal of Syrian regime forces from their territory, the Kurds have been able to regain the independency of their areas. This is what the Damascus government has long rejected in the past.
Given what happened in the city of Haskaah, when fierce fighting broke out between regime and Kurdish factions as they tried to take control of government buildings
On the other hand, fighting the jihadists, the Kurds have managed to control much of the territory and are about to link their three provinces. Afrin, Kobani (Ayn al-Arab), and Jarablus, which has upset Ankara, do not want to create an autonomous Kurdish region in northern Syria near its borders.
Why does Russia support the Kurds?
The Kurds managed to play with two superpowers to make progress towards their goals. They managed to get the Islamic State out of Manbij, despite the fact that the city was outside their areas. And managed to maintain the Azaz crossing where they received Russian support.
According to Fabrice Blanche,
“Putin considers Kurdish nationalism to be the only element capable of bringing about change in the Middle East, essentially weakening Turkey.”
They are able to be effective border guards, to monitor the northern border line through which fighters, jihadists and ammunition enter, thus energizing Syrian and Russian efforts to retake their positions.
Why does the United States support the Kurds?
Washington sees the Kurds as the best ally on the ground against IS, as the Americans have so far failed to rely on opposing factions.
Squad 13 and the Hamza Brigades, supported by Washington at one point, were eliminated by Jabhat al-Nusra, which took control of the Tao missiles that Washington had provided to the opposing factions.
The Israeli conflict with Syria
Some believe that the fall of Assad will weaken Iran, Israel’s number one enemy, but the arrival of Islamists to rule is worrying.
Israel wants to protect the Golan, the Syrian region it annexed in 1981. Since the start of the Syrian conflict, missiles have been dropped from the Syrian interior on the Golan, without the possibility of identifying the shooter, whether the armed opposition or the regime and every time Israel responded by bombing positions in Syria.