Let’s talk about the Syrian civil war and how it has become the potential for a international proxy war.
Unsurprisingly, there is a great deal of confusion about how the Syrian civil war even started. In 2011, Bashar Al-Assad, President of Syria, responded to Arab Spring protests by killing and imprisoning hundreds of demonstrators. Shortly after this event, military defectors announced the formation of the Free Syrian Army, beginning the Syrian civil war. This is where the real confusion begins. Around this time, Syrian Kurds, who have long been seeking autonomy, began fighting back against Assad. To top of the confusion, many extremist groups, such as Al-Qaeda flooded into the region to fight against the Syrian government.
In 2012, this war finally became a proxy war because Iran began sending aid to the Syrian Government and had trained officers on the ground. To combat the rise of Iran in the region, oil-rich gulf states began to send financial aid to Turkey and rebel groups fighting Assad. Hezbollah, a Lebanese militia backed by Iran, then entered into the region to back Assad. To counter the rise of Hezbollah, Gulf States began to send more financial and military aid to the rebels through Jordan.
Then in 2013, President Assad used chemical weapons against Syrian Citizens, sparking an uproar of condemnation by the international community. This caused the U.S. to formally oppose President Assad with Russia supporting his government; this was the beginning of what we know as the Syrian civil war today.
The birth of ISIS made this civil war even more confusing and dangerous. ISIS began fighting Al-Qaeda and other rebel groups, and they finally took over a large portion of Iraq and Syria, which they call their caliphate. To combat the rise of ISIS, the U.S. launched the first strike in Syria. In the beginning, the only attacks made were against ISIS, not the Syrian Government.
We can’t forget about the Kurds. Turkey began to fight against the Kurdish uprising, even though they were also against Assad and ISIS. Turkey, however, did not fight against ISIS like the U.S. does. This goes to show that there is no consistent basis for who our allies oppose. In 2015, Russia sent troops and arms to a Russia Military base in Syrian to fight ISIS, but mostly ended up fighting against rebel groups.
Now we have two major superpowers who support different groups, making this conflict even more complicated than before. In Spring of 2017, President Assad again used chemical weapons against citizens, forcing the U.S. to fire dozens of tomahawk missiles as a response. Just last week, the U.S. launched another missile strike in response to Syrian chemical attacks.
The Syrian civil war is a war full of confusion and suffering for everybody involved. Dozens of different countries and groups are stuck between allies and enemies all fighting for different causes, but all wanting the same outcome. It is essential that Americans are knowledgeable about what’s happening around the world to be informed, voting citizens.