The War of Religion, Power and Opposition: Syria

Sunni population in Syria was constantly repressed at the time of Hafez as well as Bashar, which had infuriated the Sunnis long time ago

Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) fighters hold up their weapons in the north of Raqqa city, Syria. VOA
  • The year 2010 witnessed a massive political upheaval in the Arab world
  • Syria, too like others strived to fight back against the regime of Bashar-al-Assad
  • In 2011, the protestors started showing demonstration against the government which marked the beginning of Syrian civil war

– by Naina Mishra

June 04, 2017: War is a crime paid for by the pain of the defeated. As long as Humanity exists, Hatred will also exist and there can be no peace, only war. The rack of the civilians is nothing in front of the self-centered interest of the 75 rebel groups in Syria. 4 million lives have been lost till now in Syrian War. The number nevertheless just keeps on augmenting every now and then.


The year 2010 witnessed a massive political upheaval in the Arab world, which led to the origination of ‘Arab Spring’. The movement originated in Tunisia dethroning the then dictator, Zine el-Abidine after 24 years in power and spread to Egypt, Libya, Yemen, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Jordan. The Arab Spring saw a huge protest by people against their deep-rooted political masters. Syria, too like others strived to fight back against the regime of Bashar-al-Assad.  However, the term Arab Spring has now been changed to ‘Arab Winters’, the reason being that the phase can not be attributed to a blooming phase rather it is dark and gloomy for Syrian civilians.

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Syria is located in the Middle East and is bordered by Israel, Jordan, Turkey, Iraq and Lebanon. Syria gained independence from France in 1946, which led to political instability for over two decades in the country. Hafez-al-Assad was brought to the presidency in 1971 to bring the much-needed stability in Syria. Soon after he rose to power, all democratic practices were continued to be abandoned under his regime. He condemned dissent and anyone who dared to oppose him was detained capriciously and tortured. He started electing loyalists from his Alawite Shia sect in the security agencies and intelligence bodies. Sunni, a marginalized faction in Syria, which constitute 82 percent of the Syrian population, were denied access to the resources. Hafez formed one of the most oppressive regimes in this world, which was brutal and barbaric in nature.

Enter Bashar-al-Assad 

In 2000, Bashar-al-Assad, the youngest son of Hafez-al-Assad came to power after his father’s death. Bashar was 34 at the time of his father’s death whereas according to the constitution of Syria, the president’s age must be 40 years, which was altered to 34 years for Bashar. Imagine the kind of dominion was about to prevail in Syria which denied the constitutional procedures. One does not expect from a president to turn things into his favor unrighteously.

The Beginning of Syrian Civil War

Sunni population in Syria was constantly repressed at the time of Hafez as well as Bashar, which had infuriated the Sunnis long time ago. The period 2007-2010 faced a severe drought which led to widespread hunger in Syria and food prices inflated by the government. In 2011, the protestors started showing demonstration against the government, which was suppressed by police and army fire over the protestors. This marked the beginning of Civil War in Syria that caused civil unrest among people, and men started defecting from the army to form Free Syrian Army (FSA).

How Civil war veered into Religious war?

In 2012, Jihadist (extremists) stepped into the civil war to join the fight against Bashar government.  The reason was quite obvious — the extremist belonged to the Sunni sect. In January 2012, Jabhat al-Nusra, a segment of Al-Qaeda was formed, which settled in Syria to fulfill their hedonistic intentions. Another group from Al-Qaeda called ISIL (Islamic State of Iraq and Levant) broke away in 2014 and started attacking FSA, sometimes Al Nusra too. They established their caliphate in Raqqa city of Northern Syria, which is now the capital of ISIS ( Islamic State of Iraq and Levant).

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On the other side, Iran, a Shia-majority country started backing the Syrian government and provided military support to Assad. Here too, Iran wanted a Shia government to rule in the Middle East. Hezbollah, a Shia militia based in Lebanon joined to support Assad.

Here the world joins the Syrian War

The ultimate aim of the rebel groups like Jabhat al-Nusra was not only confined to collapse Bashar government but after taking over Syria they wanted to take over the United States. Fearing the 9/11 attack, US approved CIA-backed training to moderate rebel groups, who just wanted a democratic government in Syria. However, it was not successful and till date, the US has not been able to give training to the moderate groups.

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In August 2013, a chemical attack was hailed on civilians in Damascus and more than 700 people died in just one day of the attack. The attack is known to be the deadliest use of chemical weapons since the Iran–Iraq War. There was huge outcry after the chemical attack in the world, and everyone contemplated the fallout of Bashar to be ideal for Syrians. Soon after the attack, Russia rescued Syria and convinced Assad to let the Organizations for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapon (OPCW) dismantle all chemical weapons in Syria to save the government from external threat.

US-led airstrikes against ISIL in 2014 in an international coalition. Assad government started losing ground in Syria as ISIS had captured a major portion of northern Syria by that time. When the Syrian government was on the verge of collapsing, Russia intervened militarily and bombed against ISIL, Nusra and FSA.

It can be inferred that the backing of world powers (US, RUSSIA, CHINA, and IRAN) are only dragging the conflict further.

Syria in Turmoil

The Al-Qaboun neighborhood in rural Damascus is shelled July 15, 2013. VOA

Due to this ongoing civil war, there has been a massive displacement of people. Many countries do not allow refugees from Syria. According to UNHCR, the number of refugees has risen and never have been this much critical after the World War II. Refugees who come from Syria say that ‘Syria can never be the same again’. The quality of life has plummeted in Syria, and health crises have increased tremendously.

Notwithstanding with the current scenario, Bashar-al-Assad may yet survive just another day, a day that shows the triumph of the brutal forces over the naive and innocent people. It is sad to reckon that human loss is so diminutive in today’s world. The thought of waking up tomorrow with a save life is merely a fantasy for these people.

– by Naina Mishra of Newsgram. Twitter: Nainamishr94


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