How will the Syrian war end?
A hardened diplomat is not impressed, no matter how cruel and bloody the photos and videos are. Wassili Nebensja, who represents Moscow at the United Nations in New York, describes the reports that have been coming in for days about the great deaths in the Syrian rebel stronghold of East Ghouta and the photos of the women and children killed in air strikes "as coordinated rumors and propaganda catastrophe scenarios ". Basta.
Or he speaks of the "delusions" of the world public. Russia's new "Mister Njet" in the UN Security Council did not want to hear anything about the fact that civilians were mainly dying in the fighting of the Assad regime against the rural rebel stronghold on the outskirts of Damascus, even before the next Syria vote by the most important body of the world organization apparently even clinics are being bombed in a targeted manner. Original sound from Nebensja: "It gives the impression that the entire Eastern Ghouta consists of hospitals, and that's exactly where the Syrian army shoots." According to the Moscow diplomat, this is known as "information warfare" for him.
The bloodbath that Syria's ruler Bashar al-Assad is wreaking in front of the gates of his capital and as the crow flies less than ten kilometers from his palace on a ridge has been reported for days. Far more than 400 people are said to have been killed and countless injured this week alone. Chancellor Angela Merkel spoke of a "massacre" and the "fight of a regime not against terrorists, but against its own people". That hits the situation: Syrian and allegedly Russian jets and helicopters are bombing from the air, while on the ground the regime's artillery is shooting the wildly towering towns in Eastern Ghouta ready for storm.
A ground offensive is to follow. Assad's "Tiger" Division, a notorious elite army unit, rallies; a Tiger General, also known for his brutality, has announced that he will teach the people in the rebel area "a lesson they will never forget". The fact that the officer only means the rebels entrenched in Eastern Ghouta, most of whom are tough Islamists, must be doubted: the regime does not differentiate between fighters and civilians, between supporters of the rebels and those who cannot defend themselves against the army or the rebels .
This is the starting point in which the UN Security Council tried again on Friday evening to enforce at least a 30-day ceasefire for Eastern Ghouta. Then injured people could be brought to safety and starving civilians supplied with food while diplomats inside and outside the Security Council seek solutions.
There are many smaller conflicts that are hidden in the one great war
Only - that won't bring peace to Syria after seven years. It is not just about the fate of the 400,000 people in Eastern Ghouta, the Syrian war will not end with the foreseeable fall of the rebel stronghold. It is also about the besieged bastions of the rebels in the Idlib province on the border with Turkey, where hundreds of thousands of refugees live among the rebels. It's about the Deraa rebel base on the border with Jordan.
It is about the contested Kurdish region of Afrin, in which the Turkish army is now also bombing; Hundreds of elite Turkish police officers are said to be deployed there in the city of Afrin in house-to-house fighting against the Kurds. "God willing, you will fulfill your duties and return home safe and sound," a senior Turkish police officer said goodbye to around 150 men in Ankara, at least the newspaper reports Hürriyet on-line.
In short: there are many smaller conflicts that hide, overlap and fuel each other in the one great war. Which statesman, which power or which supranational organization could make peace in Syria in the foreseeable future? Will this war end in one, five, or ten years? Fighting has been going on in Afghanistan for four decades. The civil war in Lebanon only came to an end after 15 years without ever actually ending: The old conflicts between ethnic and religious groups determine and paralyze Lebanese politics to this day.
According to estimates by the human rights organization Human Rights Watch, the war in Syria has cost at least the cost since the fighting broke out in spring 2011. Others assume half a million victims. In the first half of this week alone, doctors documented more than 300 civilian victims in the rebel enclave of Eastern Ghouta near Damascus.
Such wars can be ended all the less because so many civil structures break down in the conflicts. In this way the state becomes an empty shell in which various groups pursue their political, economic and military interests.
The civil war in Syria began in spring 2011 after the initially peaceful demonstrations in the wake of the Arab Spring as a rebellion against Assad. After hundreds of thousands of deaths and millions of displaced persons, it is far more than the struggle between an unloved ruler and discontented sections of his people. It has turned into a regionally radiating conflict between entire population and religious groups. At the same time, state actors such as the Assad regime and non-state forces and groups such as the terrorist organizations al-Qaeda, the Islamic State or non-state militias such as the Syrian Kurds and their YPG troops are fighting each other.
It is all the more disastrous that some of these forces are alternately opponents or followers of powerful neighboring states such as Turkey, Israel, Iran or even of great powers such as the USA and Russia (see below). The situation between the neighboring countries involved or the regional and major powers involved could soon escalate: Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu recently threatened Iran with war; An Israeli fighter plane had previously been shot down during an Israeli air strike on an Iranian position in Syria.
Israel does not want to tolerate the arch enemies Iran and Hezbollah creating another base and a deployment area in Syria after Lebanon. Iran, in turn, is resolutely building a land bridge between the Islamic Republic itself and Iraq, Syria and Lebanon: Tehran will not be so easily dissuaded from strengthening its leverage in the direction of Israel. Turkey, on the other hand, does not tolerate a strengthening of Kurdish autonomy in the neighboring country because it has a highly explosive Kurdish problem at home. That is why she is now at war in Syria.
Assad will wage war until he controls every inch of the country again
Even heavier outsiders are shooting too: up to 100 fighters from the Russian mercenary army "Wagner" are said to have died in a US air raid near the city of Deir al-Sour; this is fighting on the unofficial Kremlin order against Kurdish units and against IS. The fact that the Americans arm the YPG Kurds and put 2,000 US soldiers at their side does not serve to improve the American-Russian relationship. Officially, their presence is justified with the fight against the "Islamic State". The US troops are clearly also an instrument against the growing influence of Iran.
In Syria, the law of the fittest has counted for seven years. And recently the Assad regime, nurtured by the Russians and Iranians, has been stronger. It has cornered the rebels more and more over the past few months. But they are far from defeated, there are too many interests of other powers for that. A formula would have to be found with which the interests of the warring parties could somehow be brought to a status quo.
But how? A solution is still a long way off. How far is shown by the fact that to this day Assad has simply insulted all rebels as "terrorists". In his presidential palace he shouts that he will wage war until he has brought "every inch" of the country back under his rule - a monstrous indication that the killing could go on for years.
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