Al-Assad Regime: Initiation of Syrian Uprising

Background And Causes of Uprising

Syrian civil war‎ is a multi-sided and multi-faceted war which is currently taking place in Syria. The war initiated on March 15, 2011 between Syrian President Bashar-al-Assad and Syrian Arab Republic. This unrest in Syria grew out of peaceful protests against injustice and failures of Bashar-al-Assad in Syria. The demand of these protests was removal of Al Assad. Syrian Army lead by Al Assad attacked dissenters and this conflict surged into an armed conflict i.e. The Syrian Civil War. This war was fought between Syrian Armed forces and free Syrian army (international allies).

Environmental crisis played a bit part in Syrian uprising. Syria from 2006-2010 was hit by a pernicious drought. Farming of the country was destroyed and thousands of families were raised to indigence. It lead to mass migration of families to urban areas.

The Dar’a province of western Syria was highly affected by calamity. First protest took place on March 15, 2011 and a few boys were arrested and maltreated resultantly. People came out on streets for corroboration of political and economical reforms. Security forces unleashed attacks on peaceful dissenters which prefixed thrust to the protests.

As the protests grew in size and mass, more force was used against them even tanks were used. Till the mid of 2011, major world powers diverged into pro-Assad and anti-Assad sets.

Fifty years of Assadist Rule

Hafez-al-Assad was a Syrian politician who remained Prime minister of Syria from 1970-71 and President from 1971-2000. During his thirty years of dictatorship he made sure his son gets a loyal army. Syria, before his era went through 16 devastating coupes out of which 9 were successful. None of the attempt was made to abolish Hafez-al-Assad because of the reason that army was loyal to him. He used Syrian economy to cultivate loyalty for himself. He was the product of military and made sure to the institution remain secular and staunch at the other hand. He made army not only devoted but well equipped to safeguard Assad government in any case. Hafez-al-Assad died in 2000, then came his son. Further, he introduced free market policies.

During the first decade of his rule there was breakdown of economic policies. Free market policies introduced by Hafez-al-Assad soared when Bashar-al-Assad became president. These policies benefited a very few of the population. Unemployment was at peak. This discontent between people and government became the purpose of war.

Syria was hit by a drought from 2006-2011 which deteriorated the economic conditions. Prices of food soared to sky. Human rights were already been slumped there. There was no freedom of expression, freedom of speech even freedom to gather. Only 5 people were allowed to gather at a time. A human rights report which came soon before the uprising stated that the President crashed at dispensing basic human rights.

Involvement of Foreign Forces

The war was mainly fought between Syrian Armed Forces lead by Bashar-al-Assad and Free Syrian army which mainly constituted of civilians. Syrian Democratic forces dominated by Kurds, ISIS.Lebanese Hezbollah, Iran, Russia were the supporters of Syrian government while the rebel groups were supported by U.S, France, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Britain and Netherlands.

United States and Syria

The American-led intercession in the Syrian Civil War refers to the American-led sustenance of Syrian rebels and the  Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) during the  Syrian Civil War. An active military operation was lead by US known as “Operation Inherent Resolve” which was against ISIL (Islamic State of Iraq and Levant) in 2014. US and its allies marked out Syrian government through airstrikes and aircraft shot downs. After the break out of civil war in 2011, US supplied non lethal aid to Syrian rebels and SDF. Later on it began to dispense drilling, money and intelligence to some Syrian Rebel commanders.

Two programs “Pentagon” and “Timber sycamore” were initiated by America, actually by CIA but were exterminated by Russian air bombings and were, later on, cancelled by Trump administration. During Obama administration in 2014, began to scrutinize ISIL locales in Syria.

The United States, Bahrain, Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) began bombing ISIL positions within Syria. The US missile assault on Shayrat Airbase on 7 April 2017 was the first time the US intentionally strafed Syrian government soldiers, and it indicated the beginning of America’s direct military intervention. In order to offset Iran’s influence and depose Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, In 2018, the Trump administration demonstrated its willingness to continue an unfettered presence in Syria. Anyhow, the Trump Administration has authorized the withdrawal of 2000 troops from Syria in 2019.

US Airstrikes

On September 10, 2014, US President Barack Obama declared his intention to attack ISIL facilities in Syria and convened a conference to authorize a programme to train rebels fighting ISIL and Bashar-al-Assad’s army. He authorized attacks in Syria that were opposed by militant organizations. In his address, he stated that we would wipe out whatever group remains in Syria by direct strikes.

Prior to the launch of airstrikes, the US informed Iran, Syria’s regional partner, of the assaults and made certain that no government facilities were targeted. On February 25, 2021, US military airstrikes led by US President Joe Biden shattered a number of potentials associated to pro-Iranian militias.

Turkish Involvement

Initially Turkish intervention in the Syrian civil war commenced diplomatically and later on surged militarily. Turkey convicted Syrian government at the beginning of outbreak of war and joined many other states in demanding abolition of Bashar-al-Assad. It energetically supported Syrian dissidents. Turkish connivance gradually transformed into military boost for free Syrian Army. In 2012 Turkish boost was just involved in border clashes but from 2017-2020 direct military interventions were witnessed. At many fronts Turkey was observed going against ISIS. Through its military operations since 2016, Turkey has occupied northern Syria. Turkey hosted the head of the Free Syrian Army, Colonel Riad-al-Assad. Turkey grew belligerent  to the policies set up by Al-Assad government. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan mentioned his desire to “cultivate a favorable relationship with whatever government would take the place of Assad.”

Russian Involvement

Russia and Syria have vast history of ties. Syria was supporter of Soviet Union. in October 1980, Syria and the Soviet Union signed a twenty-year Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation. Russia remained a firm supporter of Al-Assad government since actuation of Syrian uprising. It provided political and military reinforcement to Syria since 2011. Russia was also involved in direct military interventions. It vetoed western drafts against Syrian government and demand of confiscating the President, being a permanent member of UN security council. In September, 2015 the upper house of Russian Parliament permitted Russia to use force and arms in Syria against dissidents, SDF and free Syrian Army. After that, Russia commenced airstrikes on locales of Islamic State of Iraq and Levant in Syria. Russian airstrikes became a source of continuous debate after being highlighted for ostensibly destroying hospitals and medical centers and killing of thousands of innocent civilians. Because of the specified reasons, Russia lost its seat  at UN Human Rights council in 2016.

Many Russian soldiers lost life during the course of their deployment in Syria. According to Russian officials “ current situation in Syria does no harm to international Peace and security”.

Russia has enhanced its military occupancy in Syria and launched first airstrike on 30th September 2015. Russian airstrikes have not been yet managed. In March 2021, Turkey urged Russia to hold on its airstrikes since these strikes are becoming a source of destruction of hospitals and fuel stations.

Iran and Saudi Arabia; The Shadow War

On the battle grounds of Syria, Iran and Saudi Arabia have been visualized fighting a proxy war which is also reffred as middle eastern cold war. Iran backs Syrian government and Bashar-Al-Assad while this has lead Saudi Arabia to boost Syrian rebels against the government.

This conflict has been influenced by the pursuit of regional hegemony. US supports Saudi Arabia while

Iran gains massive assistance from Russia and allies. The proxy war can be routed back to 1979, the time of “Iranian Revolution”. It was the time when USsubsidized the monarchic  Imperial state of Iran which became Islamic republic after revolution. The revolutionaries demanded to overthrow monarchy and practice the essence of republic.

1978 incident in Mecca, was a clash between Shia pilgrims and  Saudi security forces during the cadence of pilgrimage. It was a lethal eventuality which lead to expiration of four hundred folks. The ongoing proxy war developed on account of past happenings. Both the countries evacuate no possibility to grab each other’s influence in the region and they unleash no occasion to incapacitate one’s interests.

Violent Non-State Actors

Non-state actors having roots from armed and other militias have taken place in order to fill the vacancy left by incompetent regime. Sunni Salafi jihadist groups, Islamic State and the Nusra Front have proven to be the most effective rivals of the regime. They have occupied most of the Syrian territory. Thousands of jihadists from Afghanistan, Hezbollah jihadists came to Syria in support of Bashar-al-Assad. Nevertheless, Syrian regime has survived in hands of Al-Assad but Syria has been destroyed in hands of foreign forces and jihadist groups.

Syrian Peace Process

Syrian peace process is a initiative which embraces the events fabricated to resolve the conflict, which has been on going in Syria since March 2011 and has reached outside the territorial borders involving major world powers. The attempts of International community to bring forth peace between government and rebels, have failed. The moderators of peace process are Arab League, western powers, UN special envoy on the case of Syria and Russia. In 2014 “Geneva conference” took place which was assembled by UN envoy. The United States, the European Union, Russia, China, and numerous regional entities such as Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Turkey, and, for the first time, Iran took part in the “Vienna talks” in 2015. There have been long and long talks since then to resolve the issue but no apparent actions were made to enforce peace in the region. However, elections are going to be held in May, 2021.

Impacts of War on Syria

As per the calculations of 2020  at least 400,000 Syrians have lost their right to survival, and 5.6 million refugees out of a pre-war population of 22 million were supersede from Syria. Syria has lost more than 50% of its military force. The United Nations, in the first instance described the Syrian conflict as the “worst man-made disaster the world has caught sight of since World War”, phrases can no longer delineate the crisis Syria has faced. Syrian uprising lead to widespread consequence, mass moving of refugees and slaughter of mankind. Even many countries were not willing to accept them. France accommodated a very large number of Syrian refugees. Health care facilities have been destroyed, people have lost access to treatments of diseases. And now this pandemic has hit the country and there is no sign of removal of al-Assads government.


From peaceful protests to civil war, Syria has become a battleground for different countries of the world. US shows support against Bashar-al-Assad while Iran displays affection with Bashar-al-Assad along with Russia while Turkey and Saudi

Arabia stand in opposition. Many foreign agents have been visualized in Syria fighting against their own specific targets. But one thing that I have noticed is that ISIL or ISIS has remained the target of every country seated in Syria. Saudi and Iran are fighting their proxy war in Syria as well as in Yemen.

According to UN Syrian uprising is the biggest conflict world has witnessed after world war 2. Wars are never favorable, outcomes of war are never joyous. Young children have lost their national identity, they were not supposed to see what they saw all because of Al-Assads arrogance. World has never seen such an impotent leader before who has failed, failed inadequately to fulfil needs of the people. He broke down at providing youth with a convalescent future.

Ayesha Shukhat
Ayesha Shukhat
Student of Social Sciences National Defence University Islamabad, Pakistan