Is Syria Just Another Proxy War?

Jan 22 2013 / 12:19 am

By Ali Younes

For those who have been following the bloody events in Syria in the past two years, it is clear that there is no doubt that the regime of Bashaar al-Assad is responsible for killing tens of thousands of Syrian citizens and destroying much of the country’s infrastructure. But to say that is to say only part of the story.

The different militant groups of the Syrian opposition, ranging from the Free Syrian Army, which is supported by the US and other western countries, to the Islamic Jihadists and Salafist groups that seek to establish an Islamic state in Syria, share significant responsibility for committing atrocities in the Syrian countryside, according to news reports and eyewitness accounts reported by several international media outlets.

The conflict in Syria where the government troops are fighting a losing battle against rebel groups has destroyed large parts of the modern Syrian state plunging Syrian citizens into a state of destruction and homelessness at home and in neighboring countries.

Casting some blame on the rebel groups, however, has very little traction in the pro-rebels Arabic media outlets which often report on the death and destruction caused by the regime war machine and army troops.

An Arab journalist and analyst based in Washington D.C who declined to use his name in this column, argued to me that the rebel groups that are currently fighting a war of attrition against the regime and particularly those with Jihadist bent represent a worst alternative to Assad’s regime.

Although he is not supportive of Assad’s regime and blames it for its total dependence on foreign diplomatic and military assistance in order to stay in power, he equally, however, blames the militants for their dependence on foreign military and financial assistance.

“Both parties are destroying Syria,” he said.

While the Syrian regime is mainly supported by Iran, China and Russia, the rebels are supported by the Europeans, the US and its Arab allies.

The conflict and later the war in Syria has, in reality, been transformed from peaceful protests for political and economic reform into a proxy war between regional and international powers at the expense of the Syrian people and their country.

Although different Syrian rebel groups claim to have control over large swaths of the country, especially in the countryside, there is little evidence, however, that shows stability or a sense of normalcy in the areas under their control. Life is not going back to normal in those areas according to several Arab and western news reports. Syrian opposition leaders, in addition, have yet to move back to those areas and set up their own government, a clear sign of instability in those areas.

Meanwhile, Zakariya Al Sayed a Syrian opposition activist whom I reached on the phone in Amman Jordan, told me that there is no such thing as “liberated areas” in Syria so-to-speak. This is because, he argued, the regime still maintains its ability to strike against those areas from the air. The situation in those areas is unlike the Kurdish region in northern Iraq during the US invasion of that country or in Benghazi where US and NATO provided no fly zones and air cover.

It is obvious, moreover, that the Syrian regime is still in control of the major urban cities like Damascus, Aleppo, Homs, Hama and Derra where the residents, according to the Arab journalist, worry about what would happen to them should the Jihadists take control of their areas, thus choosing in the meantime Assad’s regime over the rebel groups. This is not to say that Assad or his regime are popular in the cities — he is not, but many prefer it over the possibility of being ruled by radical and jihadist groups and with them the probability of chaos and civil war afterward.

Adding fuel to the fire is the presence of extremist groups like Al Nusra Front, which the United States designated it as a terrorist organization. Al Nusra, which is reportedly an Al Qaida affiliate, might be the best weapon the regime has, not only to scare its citizens of the alternative to its demise but also the West, which is eager not to repeat its mistakes in Iraq or Libya.

It is this quandary that makes the war in Syria very difficult to end without direct foreign military intervention on the side to the rebels, which is highly unlikely at this point, or in the absence of a rebels’ military operation that decapitates the regime without destroying the remaining infrastructure.

Meanwhile, the prevailing public opinion in the Arab World accuses the West and Israel of keeping the Syrian conflict burning this long because, as the opinion goes, keeping Syria weak and unstable will only serve those powers. As for the Syrian people who chose to brave the killing and destruction and stay or those who are living in refugee camps across the borders the future is unpredictable and bleak even when the regime eventually collapses.

– Ali Younes is a writer and analyst based in Washington D.C. He contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com. Contact him at: aliyounes98@gmail.com and on Twitter at @clearali.

image_pdfimage_print
Posted by on Jan 22 2013 . Filed under Articles, Commentary . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 . You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

1 Comment for “Is Syria Just Another Proxy War?”

  1. Mo

    Ali, thank you for a wonderfully objective and informative analysis of the situation and nuances behind the tragedy unfolding daily in Syria. The last paragraph which mentions “the prevailing public opinion in the Arab World” which blames “the West and Israel” is a sad indictment of the mentality which pervades so much of the Arab world.

Leave a Comment

Please insert the correct number.


The Free Zone | Blog

  • February 5, 2016

    Israeli Forces Kill 14-year-old Palestinian Allegedly Throwing Molotov Cocktail

    Israeli soldiers killed a 14-year-old Palestinian and detained another young boy in the occupied West Bank town of Halhul north of Hebron, after the two allegedly tried to throw Molotov cocktails at passing vehicles. - Witnesses told Ma'an that they saw a child lying on the ground after hearing gunshots where Israeli forces were deployed in the al-Hawawer area of Halhul city. One witness told Ma'an that they saw... More →
  • February 5, 2016

    More Than One Third of Syria's Palestinians Have Been Displaced

    More than one third of the 500,000 Palestinian refugees in Syria have been displaced by the ongoing conflict, a new report has revealed. - The Action Group for Palestinian Refugees in Syria said the refugees were displaced after their camps were either subjected to air raids or caught up in clashes. - The semi-annual report said that more than 71,200 Palestinian refugees have reached Europe after Syria’s neighbouring... More →
  • February 4, 2016

    Israel Force-feeds Hunger Striking Al-Qeq (VIDEO)

    Israeli authorities yesterday force-fed Palestinian hunger striking journalist Muhammad Al-Qeq, who has been held under administrative detention since November, Issa Qaraqei, the head of the Prisoners and Ex-Prisoners' Committee, revealed yesterday. - Earlier yesterday, the Israeli ethics committee at Afula hospital, where Al-Qeq is being held, said the journalist was on the verge of death following 71 days on hunger... More →
  • February 4, 2016

    Two Palestinian Girls Detained after Attempted Stabbing Attack in Ramla

    Two Palestinian girls were detained after attempting to attack an Israeli security guard at a bus station in the central Israeli city of Ramla on Thursday, an Israeli police spokesperson said. - Police spokesperson Luba al-Samri identified the two girls as 13-year-olds from the al-Jawarish area of Ramla. - "The two arrived at the central bus station in Ramle, when the security guard asked them to identify themselves... More →
  • February 4, 2016

    Stand in Solidarity with Omar Nayef Zayed, Former Palestinian Prisoner Targeted for Extradition

    The campaign in solidarity with Omar Nayef Zayed issued an urgent call to intensify events, protests and activities of solidarity with the former Palestinian prisoner in the coming days, including protests at Bulgarian embassies and consulates and European Union offices, in order to defend his safety and freedom.Omar Nayef Zayed, who escaped Israeli occupation imprisonment in 1990 after a 40-day hunger strike, has... More →
Support Palestine Chronicle
Support Palestine Chronicle
"The Palestine Chronicle is a beacon. History, witness, analysis and ways forward are here, written with authority and humanity. Long may it publish." — John Pilger.
Subscribe to Newsletter
Enter your email address to subscribe to our mailing list.
Email:

Gaza As Metaphor

separator

Jerusalem Interrupted

Jerusalem Interrupted: Modernity and Colonial Transformation 1917-present

Israel And South Africa

Israel and South Africa: The Many Faces of Apartheid

Vanished

Vanished: The Mysterious Disappearance of Mustafa Ouda
Disclaimer RSS Feed Contact us Donation Popup
© Copyright 1999-2016 PalestineChronicle.com. All rights reserved
Powered By MediaSeniors