Syria has defeated the bulk of Jihadists and rendered ineffective US plans to domesticate it. Now it needs reforms and justice, also for the Kurds. The Syria of 2011 no longer exists.
The Syrian crisis, begun seven years ago, no longer makes the headlines. Nevertheless, Syria continues to be in a difficult situation due to a so-called civil war. The deep roots of the war are connected to Middle Eastern geopolitical dynamics. Today the situation in Syria is certainly less serious than in preceding years marked by terror sown by the Islamic group IS. The extremist Jihadist group, which draws
inspiration from Saudi Wahabism, had as its objective
the elimination of the secular state and the setting up of a reactionary Islamic political regime.
This plan coincided with the geopolitical interests of some world and regional powers that considered Damascus an obstacle to their colonial-hegemony designs in the Middle East. For this reason, terrorism in Syria was never seriously combatted either by the USA or its allies; instead, it was used as an instrument of a proxy war to obtain the political conquest of the country. The Western powers involved in the Syrian crisis, despite solemn declarations in favour of religious freedom and secularism, have tried to ignite inter-confessional conflict between Sunnis and Shiites (which would have also involved the other religious confessions, including Christianity) with the intention of destabilising the country so as to control it.
However, the plan did not work due to the cultural understanding of the vast majority of Syrians (Sunnis) who, while wanting reforms, justice and liberty, believed that the absolute priorities in this stage of their history were the unity and the sovereignty of their nation and the safeguarding of their secular state. Once these corner-stones are assured, political reforms must be the order of the day for the state of Syria, guided by an Alawi/Shiite president who is also head of the armed forces (mostly Sunnis). The regular army played a decisive role – supported especially by Russia and Iran – in defeating the IS and other groups derived from Al-Qaeda. Syria today can no longer be that of 2011. The end has come for the dark era of the single party in power, of the persecution of political opponents and restrictions on press freedom.
Overall, the Syrians have won a great battle for unity and sovereignty but not the war. In the North, in the governorate of Idlib, there is a significant concentration of Jihadists protected by the ambiguous Turkish government. The East is partly occupied by the USA which is using the Kurds to limit the damage of a resounding defeat. If one day Ankara were to return to the Washington fold, breaking with Russia, the Americans would not hesitate to drop the Kurds. There is still much to be done, also regarding the reconstruction of inhabited centre and infrastructure. The seven million displaced people and the four million refugees can only return home if there is a home to go to. This depends on the international investors whom the USA threatens with sanctions to prevent them helping to rebuild Syria.
Mostafa El Ayoub
Middle East Analyst