When protests broke out in Syria in early 2011, the demonstrators demanded the end of the national emergency law—in place for over 40 years—, and other basic democratic reforms. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad paid lip service to all of these demands well before 2011 so, in light of protests sweeping the Arab World, demonstrators must have felt that such requests were not especially outlandish.
As the women’s national soccer teams battled it out for the World Cup title in early July, another clash was taking place in the political realm between the Americans and the Dutch over the latter’s military contribution in Syria. The recent visit by Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte to the White House demonstrates that despite increased pressure––mainly exerted by US Ambassador Pete Hoekstra––the Netherlands is unlikely to offer the desired level of military support in the near future due to internal political concerns, military ennui, and diverging perspectives on Middle East policy.
The indiscriminate bombings on Idlib pushed Mohammad Bayour, 20, to make a treacherous journey to Turkey. “I wanted to escape this misery—the war, poverty, everything. I wanted to live in peace and security,” Mohammad explained. Yet the journey is fraught with danger that doesn’t end at the border. If anything, the border itself is the most dangerous part of the journey with Turkish border guards known as “Jandarma,” who frequently capture, beat, and steal from Syrian refugees only to send them back into Syria.
Lost in non-stop, explosive domestic American political dysfunction and controversy was a July 16, 2019 statement by President Donald Trump reiterating his December 19, 2018 determination to quit Syria quickly and completely. Here are the precise words, spoken at the White House:
We did a great job. As Mike [Secretary of State Michael Pompeo] said, we did a great job with the [ISIS] caliphate. We have 100 percent of the caliphate, and we’re rapidly pulling out of Syria. We’ll be out of there pretty soon. And let them handle their own problems. Syria can handle their own problems—along with Iran, along with Russia, along with Iraq, along with Turkey. We’re 7,000 miles away.
Read in Arabic here. Despite the lack of focus on the Syrian Arab tribes’ social and political roles, they continue to be an important player between the conflicting parties in Syria, especially the Euphrates region and in northern Syria. At times, they have been able to change the balance of the conflict in various areas. During the past eight years, tribes have changed their allegiances by supporting the dominant power who can protect their interests.
In Idlib, Syria, where villages are being razed and hospitals mercilessly targeted by Syrian and Russian forces, children who have been displaced several times over are showing signs of severe psychosocial distress, crying and screaming as they watch their world once again collapse before their eyes. To the northeast, the al-Hol camp houses 43,500 children under the age of twelve, 480 of them unaccompanied. After being born into extreme violence and trauma under the rule of the Islamic State (ISIS), the children now lack regular access to the most basic healthcare and education, and they continue to fester in sordid conditions as their home countries decide whether to take them in.
The United States has invested nearly 5 years and tens of billions of dollars in northeastern Syria to terminate the terrorist “caliphate” of the so-called Islamic State (ISIS, ISIL, Daesh, IS). The battle against thousands of at-large ISIL operatives continues. But for how long?
The worldwide security consequences of Syrian state terror have been clear to two American presidents. But what to do? How might the West defend Syrians and itself from this ongoing scourge?
The tactic of placing civilians on the bullseye has sent shock waves of destabilization radiating well beyond Syria, thereby placing the national security of the United States and its allies at risk. This deliberate targeting—by the Assad regime, Russia, and Iran—continues. The threat it presents to Western security endures. There is no end in sight.
Read in Arabic here. Back in June 2014, at the al-Nuri Mosque in Mosul, Iraq; Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi declared the establishment of an Islamic State (ISIS) and named himself its caliph. Over the subsequent years, the Islamic State quickly managed to control wide swaths of territory in Iraq and Syria, until it became so dangerous it took an international coalition of eighty states and unions to cripple it.