Imagine living in a country in which men from one family have ruled strictly for more than forty years. The same country where if one were to speak up for their rights, they would be arrested or beaten. This is the current situation that Syrians were tackling for the last four decades. Syria is an ancient, Middle Eastern country that consists of fertile plains, high mountains and deserts with a population of approximately 21.1 million. Syria which is known as the Syrian Arab Republic is a founding member of United Nations. The country gained its independence from France in 1956, but has survived through periods of political instability driven by the conflicting interests of its huge diversity of ethnic and religious groups living there (Aita, 2014) It is home to Kurds, Armenians, Assyrians, Christians, Druze, Alawite Shia and Arab Sunnis (Kannike, 2018). The conflicts and tensions between these groups play a significant role in the war and help explain the challenges that the country faces.
Politics in the Syrian Arab Republic takes place in the basis of a semi-presidential republic that includes a multiparty representation (Issa, 2016). The President of Syria, Bashar al-Assad and his Arab Socialist Ba’ath Party have remained dominant forces in the country’s politic since a 1970 coup (Holodny, 2016). After Assad became president, he quickly dashed all hopes of reorganization and improvement. As power remained in the ruling family for decades, the one-party system left few channels for political opposition, which was most likely repressed. Civil society activism and media freedom were harshly condensed which potentially killed the hopes of political openness for Syrians. Anti-government protests began in March 2011, as part of the Arab Spring (Lehnardt, 2017). Yet, the peaceful protests intensified the government’s violent attack, and armed opposition groups began fighting back. By July 2012, a group of army rebels had organized the Free Syrian Army and many civilian Syrians took up arms to join the opposition (Issa, 2016). There were divisions between irreligious and religious fighters, and between ethnic groups, that continued to complicate the politics of the conflict (Kannike, 2018). There was also an “uneven economy” factor that attributed to the uprising in Syria. Cautious reform of the remnants of socialism opened the door to private investment, triggering an explosion of consumerism among the urban upper-middle classes (Issa, 2016). Though, privatization only was in favour for the wealthy, privileged families with ties to the government. On the other hand, the country became the center of the revolt, raged with anger as living costs ascended, jobs remained infrequent and the inequality between different religions took its toll.
Moreover, the uprising of Syrians turned into violence. Security forces opened fire on several teenagers who painted revolutionary slogans on a school wall (Ali, 2017). As protests were demanding President Assad’s resignation, the conflict was triggered nationwide. The government’s use of force to crush the opposition simply increased the protester’s determination. Opposition supporters eventually began to take up arms, first to defend themselves and later to expel security forces from their local areas (Issa, 2016). In a matter of time, the violence accelerated and the country fell into civil war as rebellious bridges were formed to help battle government forces for the control of cities, towns and the countryside. By June 2013, United Nations said that more than ninety thousand civilians had been killed in the conflict. By August 2015, the number increased to two-hundred and fifty thousand according to the activists and the UN (Ali, 2017). However, the conflict started to become more than just a battle between those against President Assad and his family, it has acquired religious overtones, pitching the country’s Sunni majority against the Shia people, and drawn in regional and world powers.
Furthermore, the Syrian Civil War is an continuing multi-sided armed battle in Syria, fought mostly between the government of President Assad, along with his allies, and many forces opposing the government. The war began by many factors; the Syrian government and its allies, a alliance of Sunni Arab rebel groups, the majority-Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces, Salafi jihadist groups and the Islamic State of Iraq (Lehnardt, 2017). International organizations have alleged that the Syrian government, the Islamic State of Iraq and the rebel groups have made many human rights violations and numerous massacres. Over the course of the war several peace initiatives have been launched, including the March 2017 Geneva peace talks on Syria which were peace negotiations between the Syrian government and the Syrian opposition (Aita, 2014). This took place between February 23rd and March 3rd, 2017, trying to resolve the Syrian Civil War (Aita, 2014). However, the fighting continued.
There are several impacts that were caused because the Civil War. Some of the major impacts include the increasingly causalities of civilians and foreigners, the impact of Syrian refugees, and the falling economy.
Estimates of deaths in the Syrian Civil War, vary between 346,612 and 481,612 (Leharndt, 2017). By February of 2012, The United Nations Children’s Fund reported that over 500 children had been killed (Ali, 2017). On April 23rd, 2016th, the UN revealed an estimate figure of 400,000 Syrians that had die in the war. Before July 2017, the number of children killed in the conflict had risen to 19,116 while 12,041 women were also killed (Leharndt, 2017). An additional 400 children were reportedly arrested and tortured in Syrian prisons (Leharndt, 2017). Furthermore, over 600 political prisoners died under torture by the start of 2012. By February 2017, a London-based non-governmental organization focused on human rights called the Amnesty International estimated up to 13,00 people had been executed in government prisons because of this conflict (Aita, 2014). From 2011 to 2017, the death toll for pro-government forces were about 118,141, anti-government forces were 121,241, and civilians were 101,429 which gave a grand total of 344,989 individuals who have been killed over the past 6 years because of the Syrian Civil War (Aita, 2014).
Moving on, the Syrian Civil War has created a Syrian refugee crisis. The Syrian crisis has been recognized internationally, as the largest refugee crisis of our time (Rodgers, 2016). About 11 million Syrians have fled the country as refugees since the outburst of the Civil War in March 2011 (Ali, 2017). According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, 4.8 million Syrian refugees have fled to Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt and Iraq, and 6.6 million were internally displaced within Syria (Issa, 2016). While the Syrian conflict has been pursuing since early 2011, Canada’s response to the refugee crisis was muted at first (Leharndt, 2017). This is all however changed in the fall of the 2015 with the intense photo of a three-year old’s body name Alan Kurdish, lying on a Turkish beach (StatCanada, 2017). The photograph sent shocks through the Canadian public and around the world. After the media and public outcry following the publication of Alan’s image, the remaining members of the Kurdi family were offered resettlement to Canada (StatCanada, 2017). As of January 29, 2017, there were about 40,081 Syrian refugees that settled in Canada (StatCanada, 2017). Syrian refugees hit a figure of 110,000 in United States with the Obama administration (Rodgers, 2016). However, with President Trump, there was a suspension on Syrian refugee admission.
Continuing, the collapse of the Syrian economy has been stated that it is worse than Germany after World War II. The International Monetary Fund estimates more than 75% of the Syrian economy has been destroyed between 2010 and 2015 (Holodny, 2016). Unemployment in Syria is estimated to be as high as 60%, and those living in absolute poverty was around 85% in 2014 (Haddad, 2015). Most Syrians are finding difficulties meeting their basic needs. According to the World Bank, the main reasons for poverty in Syria are the loss of property and employment, the inability to access public services, including health care and clean drinking water, and rising food prices (Holodny, 2016). The Syrian Civil War has damaged and demolished large numbers of public and private facilities, including hospitals, schools, water and sewage systems, agriculture, transportation, housing, and infrastructure.
In conclusion although the Syrian Civil War is still occurring, it has been stated hypothetically that the post-conflict rebuilding period will begin in 2018 for Syria (Issa, 2016). Even though, it would be very difficult for Syria to come back from all the disasters and challenges it faced. Since, it has been proved that the Syrian Civil War has set Syria’s national standard of living back by decades – destroying health care systems, schools and water and sanitation facilities. Syria has faced many challenges because of the Syrian Civil War which created a ripple affect globally due to Syrian refugees, the falling economy, and increasingly casualties.