about 5 years ago
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By Ruma Dubey

Syria. The grim picture of a father carrying his two dead twins is his arms, eyes brimming with tears touched hearts across the world. Time and again, we see these sad pictures, where children are usually innocent victims of mindless war. We see, we shed a tear or two, talk about it and forget about it. But life continues to remain a living hell for the Syrians.

Those in the stock markets are looking at Syria not because they care but they are perturbed that the crisis in Syria has torpedoed the ongoing bull run and feeling of “nothing can stop us.” Today, the markets are down because while we were sleeping, USA launched cruise missiles against an airbase in Syria, in retaliation for this week's chemical weapons attack against civilians. This is the first direct U.S. assault on the Syrian government.

So what exactly is happening in Syria. It began six years ago when Syrians complained about usual things bothering almost all countries – high unemployment, corruption and bigger issues unique to many countries in the Middle East - lack of political freedom and state repression under President Bashar al-Assad, who succeeded his father, Hafez, in 2000.

The Arab Spring led to demonstrations across the country in March 2011 and the Govt used deadly force to crush this which in turn led to a nationwide protest, people demanding Assad’s resignation. Soon the crisis deepened, with violence escalating, with many rebel brigades mushrooming to fight Assad’s regime. But what started off as a civil war soon ballooned into a full-fledged war, with world powers intervening – Iran, Russia, Saudi Arabia and United States. These countries had their own political, financial, and military objectives to fulfill and this interference from “outside” has intensified the crisis, turning Syria into a proxy battleground. So Syria has ISIS controlling large parts of North and Est Syria, there are rebel forces, Kurdish militia while facing air strikes from Russia and USA now.

So why are so any countries from outside fighting within Syria? Russia needs to keep Assad alive that its interests in Syria remain intact. Iran too needs Assad as Syria is the main transit point for Iranian weapons shipments to the Lebanese Shia Islamist movement Hezbollah. Saudi Arabia is fighting a Sunni war and its fight is against Iran but in Syria. USA, well, is the savior of the world and has interests all over Middle East; if Russia is a friend then naturally, it is USA’s enemy.

This is a very small synopsis of the ongoing crisis in Syria. The tragedy of human lives there is unimaginable and atrocities only continue. What happens now after the latest chemical attack? The Obama administration had managed to broker a deal with Assad wherein all usage of chemical weapons was stopped but obviously, that promise was broken on 5th April.

Assad is the bad man here but it looks like his power has only grown since the earlier chemical attack in 2013. The West and its allies want to see Assad out of office but nothing concrete seems to have happened in that direction. There is now fear that after yesterday’s air strikes, USA might get into a full blown war, something which the Republicans would gladly like.

Currently, this is unchartered territory and no one knows where this is going to head. Only thing certain – peace seems as elusive as ever for Syria.

No doubt, in the next decade the entire fabric of the Middle East, the way it is presented on geographical maps will undergo a huge change. And Europe might need to redraw the demography of its population.

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