Monday 23 November 2015

Who really has control of Syria?                  

There are so many factions in Syria, it is currently impossible to determine who really has control of Syria. What follows are the various factions.

Bashar al-Assad

He was born on the 11th of  September 1965 (currently 50) and he is the President of Syria, commander-in-chief of the Syrian Armed Forces, General Secretary of the ruling Ba'ath Party and the Regional Secretary of the party's branch in Syria.  He inherited the presidency from his late father. His presidency was confirmed by the Syrian electorate twice in 2000 and 2007 in referendums that did not include any opposing candidate. The form of government Assad presides over has been designated as an authoritarian regime by political scientists.      In plainer words, he is a cruel dictator.      

At first, he was seen by the domestic and international community as a potential reformer however Assad disappointed those expectations definitively when he ordered mass crackdowns and military sieges on Arab Spring protesters that subsequently led to the Syrian Civil War.                        

During the Syrian Civil War, an inquiry by the United Nations human rights chief found evidence to implicate Assad in war crimes and crimes against humanity. Assad was included in a list of 20 sample war crimes indictments of government officials and rebels handed to the International Criminal Court. If he leaves Syria for any reason whatsoever, he will be arrested and turned over to the Tribunal for trial in The Hague. The FBI has said that at least 10 European citizens were tortured by the Assad regime while detained during the Syrian Civil War, potentially leaving Assad open to prosecution by individual European countries for war crimes committed under his rule. He has also ordered the use of barrel bombs and poisonous gas against his people and many of his people including children have been tortured. He is responsible for as many as a quarter of a million deaths of his own people.

Currently, the only area of Syria he has complete control of is the capital of Syria—Damascus that has a population of about 1, 700,oo0. The city of Damascus comprises of an area that encompasses 105  square kilometres   (41 square miles). It is safe to say that other than Damascus, he really doesn’t rule Syria especially since he is at war with the rest of Syria.

The Iranians

As Syria's war nears the start of its fourth year, Iran has stepped up support on the ground for President Bashar al-Assad, providing elite teams to gather intelligence and train Assad’s troops.

The Russians

Russia intervened in the civil war in Syria after a formal request from the Syrian government. On the 30th of September 2015, Russia started military intervention in the Syrian Civil War, consisting of air strikes primarily in north-western Syria by Russia against militant groups opposed to the Syrian government. They are also bombing ISIS forces. The Russian Air Force had significant ground support from the Syrian military and the Iranian Revolutionary Guards. Their objective is to help the Syrian government retake territory from various opposition groups, including groups backed and armed by the United States.

Free Syrian Army (FSA)

This is a group of Syrian Armed Forces officers and soldiers who defected during the Syrian Civil War on the 29th of July 2011. Its goal is to bring down Assad’s regime.    Its leader is Brigadier General Abdul-Ilah al-Bashir (Chief of Staff from the 16th of February 2014–present) As of 2015, the army comprises of somewhere between 45,000 and 60,000 soldiers.    

On the 23rd of September 2011, the Free Syrian Army merged with the Free Officers Movement. The following forces are also part of the Free Syrian Army—Southern Front, Division 13, Fursan Haqq brigade, 1st Coastal Division, Syria Revolutionaries Front, Jarabulus Brigade, Al-Qassas Army, Dawn of Freedom Brigades, Liwa Thuwwar al-Raqqa, The Revolutionary Army. 90% of the FSA consists of Sunni Muslims. About 15% of FSA units are Kurds. As for further ethnic minorities, a Palestinian rebel commander in the Yarmouk enclave in southern Damascus in 2012 considered his rebel brigade to be part of FSA.

At the outset of the civil war, the FSA operated throughout Syria, both in urban areas and in the countryside.  It also operated in the northwest (Idlib, Aleppo), the central region (Homs, Hama, Al-Rastan), the coast around Latakia, the south (Daraa and Houran), the east (Dayr al-Zawr, Abu Kamal), and the area surrounding Damascus , with their largest concentration of forces, nine battalions or more, in Homs, Hama and surrounding areas. By November 2014, a growing coalition of 58 US-backed groups, the Southern Front of the Free Syrian Army, was gaining territory south of Damascus in southern Syria. While the Southern Front of the Free Syrian Army increased its territorial control in both Daraa and Quneitra governorates in 2015, the FSA brigades in northern Syria supported the Army of Conquest-led offensive that took control of almost all of Idlib governorate, as well as aided the YPG in their approach from the east and west against ISIL-controlled Tell Abyad. The FSA is not only fighting Assad’s forces, they are also fighting ISIS.

Peshmerga (Kurdish)

The Peshmerga (he official security forces of Iraq's autonomous Kurdish region) are foot soldiers who are facing off with the ISIS extremists on a 600-mile long frontline in the Sinjar province. They have the best track record of defeating the militants, but they are massively out-gunned by ISIS. The Kurdish forces say they've clawed back 1,500 square miles of territory from ISIS since December, 2014 and they've done nearly all their fighting relying on small-caliber weapons.

The reason the U.S. has been reluctant to directly equip the Peshmerga is that the Kurdish people want independence. Helping them angers both the Iraqi Turkish governments, where in Turkey, there's a large Kurdish population. The Turks have been fighting with the Kurds for a lo g time.

In November 2014, Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga forces arrived in the Syrian border town of Kobani to help Syrian Kurds battle the ISIS forces.  

The Hezbollah

Since the beginning of 2013, Hezbollah fighters from Lebanon have operated openly and in significant numbers in Syria alongside their Syrian and Iraqi counterparts. They have enabled the Assad regime to regain some control of rebel-held areas in central Syria and have improved the effectiveness of pro-regime forces. The impact of Hezbollah’s involvement in Syria has been felt on the battlefield where the regime now has the same momentum in many areas outside of Damascus.   The leader of Lebanon's Hezbollah said in 2015 that his group is engaged in an existential battle against ISIS across all of Syria.

ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria )

There is no Islamic State. The areas in which ISIS claims as their own, are where thousands of the world's losers have collected and put rags on their heads and who are helping the leaders of ISIS create an Islamic caliphate. At first, they fought the Iraqis in Iraq but later they moved their forces into Syria. As of March 2015, it had control over territory occupied by 10 million people in Iraq and Syria.

Kurdish forces seized a military base from ISIS fighters just 30 miles from the self-declared caliphate's capital city in Syria in November 2015.

In Conclusion 

I believe that with the help from the Americans, Russians and other countries, ISIS forces in Syria will be eradicated. What isn’t known is who is going to finally rule Syria? The Russians and the Iranians want Assad to remain as the president of Syria. Everyone else wants him out of Syria and facing charges as a war criminal.   

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