Tuesday, July 27

Syria marks ten years of war mired in devastation and economic collapse

Syria This Monday marks ten years since the beginning of a conflict that has devastated the country and caused one of the greatest humanitarian tragedies of this century, an anniversary that comes at a time when Bashar al Assad’s forces are in control of much of the country thanks to Russian and Iranian aid but with the population under great pressure from the deep economic crisis.

The conflict, which It erupted as a result of the repression of pro-democracy demonstrations that began in Daraa after the arrest and torture of several children By some graffiti against the president, it crystallized with the emergence of hundreds of armed groups, some made up of deserters from the Army.

Al Assad, who from the beginning of the war spoke of a campaign against terrorist groups financed from abroad, has managed to hold on in office thanks to the support of Moscow – which intervened in 2015 with air support – and Tehran, which supports various militias and provides economic support.

The Russian intervention has proven to be key to turning the situation around, given that at that time government troops were under great pressure from the rebels, some of them backed by Turkey, the United States and other Western and European countries. Gulf.

The Russian bombings started months after U.S to lead an international coalition to fight against the jihadist group Islamic State, which after taking important territories in Iraq and Syria proceeded to declare a ‘caliphate’ in 2014, opening a new front in the war.

Since then, the authorities have managed to expand their control over most of the country, with the exception of Idlib province, still in the hands of several rebel groups, including Hayat Tahrir al Sham (HTS), and areas of the northeast under control. of the Kurdish authorities, who to date have avoided open conflict with Damascus.

This Kurdish presence in border areas with Turkey has led Ankara since 2016 to launch various offensives against the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), whose main element is the People’s Protection Units (YPG) – with ties to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party. (PKK) -, in which they have had the support of an amalgam of rebel groups of Islamist or Salafist style.

For its part, Israel has proceeded to carry out dozens of bombings against targets of the Syrian Army and the Lebanese Shiite militia-party Hezbollah, in what he describes as a campaign to face the strengthening of Iran in the country and an expansion of the positions in which it faces enemy forces.

This internationalization of the conflict, its serious impact on the population and the region, was reflected in the offensive launched in December 2019 against rebel areas of Idlib, which caused a massive flow of displaced people to the border with Turkey, which responded by opening its doors to that refugees could reach Europe.

In this sense, the Secretary General of the United Nations, António Guterres, stressed this week that the situation in Syria “is a nightmare” and lamented that “after a decade of conflict, in the midst of a pandemic and in the face of the constant flow of new crises, Syria has fallen from the headlines. ”

In fact, the World Food Program (WFP) has warned that “Syrians face the worst humanitarian conditions since the beginning of the crisis, with millions of people falling into famine during the last year”, a situation that puts the population in a situation of greater fragility even than during the worst stages of the conflict.

Economic collapse

A) Yes, the collapse of the Syrian pound since last year and its impact on commodities, As well as the economic crisis in Lebanon and the impact of the pandemic, since the beginning of 2020, the population has seen its already scarce resources fall and food insecurity increases.

WFP itself has said that about 4.5 million people have fallen into hunger and food insecurity in the last year, while 12.4 million people – about 60 percent of the population – suffer from hunger or food insecurity, a figure that is double than in 2018.

The population has faced cuts in fuel and food since March 2020, which has caused them to depend on subsidized products, rationed in the face of price increases and the pressure caused by international sanctions, increased under the Presidency of Donald Trump.

In fact, Damascus has even accused Washington of “behaving like a bandit” for the application of the ‘Caesar Law’ in 2020, contemplates sanctions for the military and those who have supported Al Assad, in addition to expanding the previous regime of sanctions and hit the reconstruction efforts, according to Syria.

The sanctions were announced at a time when the crisis had had a public staging in the dispute between Al Assad and tycoon Rami Majluf -his cousin- for the non-payment of various debts of the Syriatel telecommunications company, of which he is a co-owner, a controversy that erupted after the businessman’s criticism of the Government for its economic measures.

Consequences of the War

The consequences of these ten years of war include more than 380,000 deaths, including about 117,000 civilians -including 22,149 children-, and 2.1 million wounded., according to data from the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, although the balances oscillate due to the difficulty to carry out a reliable count.

The body, based in London and with informants in the Arab country, pointed out that the figures correspond to the data available at the end of 2020 and added that the balance does not include “about 88,000 civilians killed by torture” in prisons. government officials, about 3,200 people in Islamic State detention centers, around 4,100 members of the Army captured and 1,800 people kidnapped by Islamist and jihadist militias.

Likewise, around 5.6 million people are refugees in countries of the region, according to data from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), mainly in Turkey (about 3.6 million), Lebanon (about 865,000) and Jordan (about 664,000).

They are joined by nearly 6.7 million internally displaced persons, bringing the total to just over half the country’s population before the war, with many of them in informal settlements and camps due to homelessness. caused by the enormous destruction of the war.

The situation has led the international community to try to promote a process of dialogue, which has achieved little progress and which has its main hope in the meetings of the constitutional committee, although cross interests have so far prevented tangible progress.

Both the UN and the NGOs have emphasized the need for accountability for crimes committed during the conflict to be a key element in a process of rapprochement and normalization of the situation, due to the great trauma suffered by the population. .

“The parties to the conflict have benefited from the selective intervention and the regrettable negligence of the international community,” criticized in February the president of the commission of inquiry on Syria, Paulo Pinheiro, who accused the parties of serious human rights violations. .

In this sense, efforts to bring the situation before the International Criminal Court (ICC) have failed, also due to the international division on the opposing sides, although the case of Germany, where a court has convicted a former Syrian agent, opens a door to hope.


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