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War has been around for as long as we can remember. Ironically, it is what we do best and
it is what has defined us the most up to this point. So what is it about the Syrian war that
makes it so different? Why is everybody talking about this conflict and how has it affected the

I. The conflicts history.

First of all, for a better understanding, we should go back and look at the beginning of the
war. The conflict is divided between four different sides: the dictator Bashar-al-Assad, ISIS,
the rebels and the Kurds. Each side has different foreign backers, and even those dont get
along. The conflict has its roots in the protests that began in Deraa city in March of 2011, after
some teenagers were arrested and tortured because they had painted revolutionary slogans on
a school wall.

The first shots in Syrias war were fired in March of 2011 by the dictator Bashar-al-Assad
against the peaceful protesters. A few months later (July), the protesters start shooting back
and even some troops from Assads army join them. It was just a step from this to the civil

Extremists from the area joined the protesters. Assad then makes his move and releases
jihadist prisoners, who join forces with the rebels, making it harder for foreign forces to back
them. In 2012, the Kurds also intervene. Iran starts helping Assad by sending troops. At the
same time, the oil rich Arab states in the Persian Gulf start sending weapons to the rebels,
mainly through Turkey, to counter Assads influence.

In mid 2012, Assad steps up his internal influence when Hezbollah, a Shia group backed
by Iran invades to fight alongside Assad. The Gulf states respond by sending more money and
weapons to the rebels.
By 2013, the middle east is generally divided between Sunni powers on one side,
opposing Assad, and Shia powers on the other side, backing him. This is the moment when
the USA steps up, authorising CIA to train and equip the Syrian rebels. The programme
suffered embarrassing setbacks though, with few having even reached the frontline. At the
same time, it urges the Gulf states to stop funding extremists, but their request goes ignored.
And then, as if not enough people had suffered, the Assad regime uses chemical weapons
against the civilians in September of 2013.

Something then happens which totally transforms the war. An Al-Qaeda affiliate breaks
away from the group. The new group calls itself the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria and it
becomes Al-Qaedas enemy. The curious thing is, ISIS does not fight Assad. Instead, it fights
the Kurds and the rebels. The USA intervenes again and sends CIA members to train the
rebels to fight ISIS. Turkey bombs the Kurds, but not ISIS.

All this time, Assad has been losing ground to the rebels, to ISIS, so in September of
2015 Russia intervenes, saying that they plan to bomb ISIS, when in fact they intend to bomb
the anti-Assad rebels who were backed by the USA.

II. Key countries position.

So why are there so many sides? Why cant countries get along and actually do something
to stop the war? In my opinion, this is one of the main reasons why there is practically no end
in sight for the syrian conflict. Lets take a closer look at some of the key countries position
regarding this issue.


Even though president Vladimir Putin has said that only a political solution can end the
conflict, in September of 2015 Russia began launching air strikes against rebels, saying that
the terrorists were the targets. In reality, groups backed by the western states were reported to
have been hit.1

1Lucy Rodgers, David Gritten, James Offer, Patrick Asare, Syria the story of the conflict,,, consultat 02.01.2016.

The US provides military assistance to moderate rebels and as of September of 2014 is

conducting air strikes against ISIS and other jihadist groups in Syria. The Obama
administration has clearly stated that Assads actions against his own people are atrocities and
he must go as soon as possible.


The country ruled by King Abdullah(2005-2015) and now by King Salman is taking part
in the US-led coalition against ISIS, but it also sends money and weapons to the rebels and
even to some Islamists. Saudi Arabia has also called for a no-fly zone to be imposed so that
the civilians can be protected from bombardment by Syrian forces.


Turkey is a key supporter of the Syrian opposition and agreed to let the US-led coalition
against ISIS use their air bases for strikes on Syria. Turkey has been one of the countries that
has criticised the Assad regime from the very beginning. President Erdogan stated that it is
impossible to "accept a dictator who has led to the deaths of up to 350,000 people"2.

III. The wars impact.

So how has this affected the world? The Syrian war is probably one of the hottest topics
nowadays. People are talking about it, but how many actually understand its seriousness? The
Syrian war has given us ISIS. It has given us fear, refugees, racism, contradictions and, most
of all, it has weakened the world peace, which wasnt even that strong to begin with. Russias

2Syria crisis: where key countries stand,,

east-23849587, consultat 04.01.2016.
intervention clearly shocked the Obama administration and its allies and set back any prospect
of productive talks, at least for the moment.

The most worrying aspect of the Syrian war is, undoubtedly, the rise of the Islamic State.
Terrorism is not a recent phenomenon, it is not something we did not know before the 9/11
attacks showed us how cruel can a handful of people be and how little we can actually do to
prevent the attacks - but ISIS has brought upon us a whole new level of fear. They do not have
an army, they surely can not fight against a coalition (if that were the case), and yet they
declared war on Saudi Arabia (december 2015). It makes you wonder, what are they thinking,
what makes them so enraged, and, most important, what makes them think they have the right
to kill other people?

So we obviously ask ourselves, why cant anybody stop them? USAs actions seem to only
make things worse, even though, obviously, they are not meant to cause any more damage.
President Obama recently said in an interview that ISIS leaders cannot hide and our message
to them is simple: you are next3. Despite this, I think USA is afraid, just as we all are, not by
their number, but by their cruelty. So has this war changed us in any way? If it has, is it for the
better or for the worse?

In my opinion, the Syrian war showed us, above all, that we are incapable of working
together to stop the terrorism, or to stop the rise of the Islamic State, because stopping the
terrorism seems like an awful big task for the world right now. The sad truth is that, despite
their actions, despite what they say, the big countries that can actually do something about it
almost always have something else in mind. There are a lot of different groups in Syrias war,
and even allies dont seem to get along. These contradictions are the main reason why, in
Syrias war, there is no end in sight.

3David Smith, Barack Obama warns leaders of Islamic State in speech: 'You are
news/2015/dec/14/obama-fight-against-islamic-state-iraq-syria, consultat

David Smith, Barack Obama warns leaders of Islamic State in speech: 'You are next',,

Lucy Rodgers, David Gritten, James Offer, Patrick Asare, Syria the story of the conflict,,

Max Fisher, Watch: a 5-minute history of Syrias war and the rise of ISIS,,

Syria crisis: where key countries stand,,


Peca Alexandra-Florentina

Anul I, RISE, Grupa A.