There are numerous factions, both foreign and domestic, involved in the Syrian civil war. These can be divided in four main groups. It borders with Iraq from East, Turkey from North, Lebanon and Mediterranean Sea from West, Israel and Jordan from South. What made this war into the monstrosity that it is today was Syria’s foreign policy, including its relationship with Hezbollah and its animosity for the Muslim Brotherhood. Iran has been openly supporting the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assadfor some time now (much of that through its proxy Hezbollah), while Israel has tried to generally steer clear of the Syrian quagmire, at least publicly. As the proxy war lumbers on, ... Syria is thus a global proxy battleground in a larger series of events that now directly threatens the entire Middle East, and possibly beyond. 1 Proxy War in Syria The Proxy War in Syria Nasir Javaid May 05, 2014 2 Proxy War in Syria The Proxy War in Syria Introduction: Syria is situated in South-West rim of Middle-East. But with the breach of Israeli airspace by perennial foe Iran, Israel was forced t… We explain how and why the country has recruited an army of its own people to help prop up President Assad. The Assad regime managed to survive this country’s internal conflict by aligning itself with a strong power- Iran. 6 Min Read. In 2005, Russia canceled 73 percent of Syria's debt with Russia to reaffirm their cooperation which encouraged Syria to support the Russian intervention in Georgia in 2008. This paper aims to draw a picture of why and how proxy warfare occurred in Syria. From Civil To Proxy War: How Syria Became Iran And Israel's Battlefield. – As if the Syrian Conflict couldn’t get any more complicated, a new proxy war is brewing between several foreign powers in the northern part of the country. Turkey’s proxy war in Syria Turkey did not have previous experience in conducting proxy wars. The United States, Turkey, and Qatar also have varying degrees of involvement in the conflict. In addition to these factors, the participation of foreign actors was another central issue that allowed for the civil war to develop into today’s highly destructive proxy war. Over the weekend, Israel intercepted an Iranian drone that had flown into Israeli airspace from neighboring Syria through Jordan. "In my view, the term 'proxy war' overstates U.S.-Russian strains over Syria. Iran and Syria had been strong allies since they collaborated to repel Iraq during the Iran-Iraq War in the 1980s. Find out more about how we use your information in our Privacy Policy and Cookie Policy. Nevertheless, labeling can be viewed as an attempt to clarify the relation between power and accountability. Syria’s suspension from the Arab League in 2011 was the final straw in eliminating all of Syria's potential support in preventing the imminent proxy war. The coalitions of powerful states caused to change the map of Syria again and again over the last few years. Given the Assad regime’s long history of committing human rights abuses, gaining international credibility with the United States or UN seems very challenging, but if Syria could rejoin the Arab League, then they could gain regional partners who want to end the war and invest in reconstructing and stabilizing the region. It is quite visible, the US does not even Without the support of its Arab neighbors, the United States, and the rest of the international community, Syria's only remaining allies included Russia and Iran. HuffPost is part of Verizon Media. However, without the involvement of several key international actors, the interests of the proxy nations will clash, hindering the ability for the Syrian conflict to be resolved as quickly as needed. Turkey maintains authority over its proxy in the use of force in military action. The Proxy War Problem. The situation has been even more complicated when the civil war turned a proxy warfare led by the most powerful countries in the world. Therefore, the Syrian regime needs to work with other Arab countries like the UAE to constructively rebuild Syria in a way that benefits the Arab world at large, eventually convincing the rest of the Arab League that Syria is no longer a regional threat. "In my view, the term 'proxy war' overstates U.S.-Russian strains over Syria. Indeed, it is hardly an exaggeration to say that all of today’s major wars are in essence proxy wars. However, following the assassination of Rafik Hariri in 2005, the international community became skeptical of the continued Syrian military presence in Lebanon. There will be soon a new proxy war in the middle east. The idea of how once-bustling souks and ornate mosques became just piles of grey rubble is difficult to comprehend. Ongoing violence and proxy conflicts could also facilitate the resurgence of terrorist groups. We and our partners will store and/or access information on your device through the use of cookies and similar technologies, to display personalised ads and content, for ad and content measurement, audience insights and product development. Improving the deteriorating relations between Syria and the international community will be an important step in helping Syria move forward after the war. Second, the opposition composed from the Turkish-backed Free Syrian Army, the Free Syrian Army and the jihadi Hayat Tahrir al-Sham. By Paul Taylor. In the early stages of the conflict, the misunderstanding of events in Syria influenced even some committed Muslims. The Syrian government, the opposition and the SDF have all received support, militarily and di… US-Russian Proxy War in Syria. Syria, the proxy war. Bashar al-Assad, who is set to remain in power, has become an international pariah and Saudi Arabia and Qatar, both major powers in the Arab League, have refused to recognize Syria under his control. If anything, the Syrian civil war is a typical example of a proxy war, with the Syrians themselves getting increasingly irrelevant to how the conflict would play out. However, other Arab League member states wanted Syria to be held responsible for its attacks on protestors by security forces during the Arab Spring. These foreign machinations helped open the door for the terrorist Islamic State group to threaten the region. Speaking from Damascus on the condition of anonymity, a government source told Al-Masdar that two new alliances have emerged in northern Syria, with one led by Iran and Turkey and the other Saudi Arabia and Russia. The networks in Syria are amorphous and perpetually in flux. However, the USSR did not support U.S.-Syrian collaboration during the First Gulf War, jeopardizing their alliance. In addition to these factors, the participation of foreign actors was another central issue that allowed for the civil war to develop into today’s highly destructive proxy war. The fighters’ salaries, training, and supervision in battle are also provided by Turk ey. Iran and the GCC states have provided varying degrees of military and financial support to opposing sides, with Iran backing the government and Saudi Arabia supporting rebel militants. Third, the Kurdish-dominated Syrian Democratic Forces. The Turkish Defense Ministry reports that at the start of this week, Turkey destroyed 82 Syrian targets, including nine tanks, two Howitzer mortars, six rocket launchers and two military vehicles, and also killed 299 Syrian soldiers. If we were to compare Syria’s condition ten years ago to its current state, one would be shocked at the stark contrast. The proxy war in the Middle East between Saudi Arabia and Iran is another example of the destructive impact of proxy wars. When the proxy-war on Iran was launched throughout Syria in 2011, most Muslims influenced by the propaganda of the corporate media and Western political establishment immediately adopted their narrative. Second, civil war in Syria has not played out as an intra‐state conflict neatly contained within national borders. Olivia Giles is a former intern for the Middle East Studies Program at the Center for the National Interest. Proxy war or not, the bulk of the fighting in Syria is not about the regional balance of power.Most fighters (ISIS excluded) are driven by parochial—even personal—issues. Since 2003, more than 800,000 have died in Iraq. This put Syria on the same level as countries like Cuba, Libya, Iraq, Iran, and North Korea. The Proxy War Problem In Syria, both the Bosnia and Iraq analogies should point us toward a greater understanding of the proxy war problem in modern civil wars. ISTANBUL The squabbling factions that make up the Syrian “moderate opposition” should get their act together. How do I know, did I take over Crete's oracle? Senior Saudi and Iranian figures clashed behind closed doors at a private meeting convened by the World Economic Forum in Davos this week to try to promote peace in Syria, participants said. In 2005, Syria became isolated not only from the United States, but also from the rest of the international community after the ratification of UN resolution 1559. For example, according to recent survey work, the University of Maryland researcher Vera Mironova and High Point University’s Sam Whitt found that rebels were motivated primarily by revenge and regime change, not … The conflict in Syria is being shaped by the strategic rivalry between Saudi Arabia and Iran. Alerts. To enable Verizon Media and our partners to process your personal data select 'I agree', or select 'Manage settings' for more information and to manage your choices. This resolution called for all foreign troops to leave Lebanon, but it was mainly targeted at Syria after its invasion of Lebanon during the 1975–1990 Civil War. A. If you've been listening just to the Kremlin and the Pentagon, you probably didn't know that Russia attacked American forces and their allies in Syria last week, suffering heavy casualties. That being said, Syria's first goal should be to try and rejoin the Arab League. This is by far the worst war in modern Syrian history with over 550,000 people believed to be dead and twelve million people displaced. It also invited U.S. sanctions to prevent the financing of weapons projects, which were expanded in 2010. NO! Under Nejad and then Rouhani rule, Iran aided the regime in Damascus by all means, including logistical, military, and financial support. Syria’s experience is not uncommon. Syria has been decimated by conflict, so the sooner the war ends the better. These sanctions and Syria’s actions to undermine the U.S. effort in Iraq left the United States unwilling to aid the Assad regime in 2011. The US-Russia Proxy War in Syria. R… Turkish-backed fighters north of the Syrian town of Azaz, near the border Ankara today announced its first two combat deaths in Turkey’s clash with US … The US-Russia Proxy War in Syria ... And so, an unholy alliance of Turkey, Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states continues to fuel the war in Syria while Obama pretends that his giant coalition is really doing the job of taking on many of those same jihadists. Here's a breakdown of what the term … Fourth, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. Monday, 19 February, 2018 - 09:15 Eli Lake A. [96] [97] The talks however were promptly followed by an exchange of sharp rebukes between Iran's and Saudi Arabia's top officials … Therefore, Syria needs to look to other countries to help end the war through negotiations and by pressuring Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Russia to deescalate their actions in the conflict. First, on August 19, U.S. troops came under fire from Syrian warships in Northern Syria. A few months ago, in a remote town in Idlib province, northern Syria, an unusual foreign militant presence alarmed Syrian locals. In Syria, both the Bosnia and Iraq analogies should point us toward a greater understanding of the proxy war problem in modern civil … Syria became a pariah state because of its authoritarian policies and its increasing friendliness with radical groups and countries such as Iran. For Syria, Iraq, and Turkey, this is more a war than a … However, in 2002, foreign affairs between the United States and Syria quickly began to break down when Syria was added to the United States' Axis of Evil list for its efforts to obtain weapons of mass destruction in the form of chemical and biological weapons. The first step to achieving this goal will be improving bilateral relations between Syria and its Arab neighbors, such as the UAE. Information about your device and internet connection, including your IP address, Browsing and search activity while using Verizon Media websites and apps. Progressing to a violent armed revolt and the formation of the Free Syrian Army later that year, a civil war officially began. A PROXY war is a tremendously old concept that has been commonplace in international relations for centuries. Since Russia and Iran both had a long history of a preexisting alliance with Syria, and Syria lacked any other means of assistance, the Assad regime was willing to ally with these two countries despite the threat of a proxy war. The Proxy War Problem. However, now having lasted for longer than World War II, this war in Syria has gone beyond its borders. Therefore, the UN ratified this resolution as a way to demonstrate the international community’s displeasure with Syrian foreign policy, simultaneously distancing themselves from the country. EnglishThe civil war in Syria has become a classic example of proxy war, in which different regional and global powers defend their interests through third parties. This conflict has resulted in, among other things, the Syrian Civil War, the rise of ISIL, the current civil war in Yemen, and the reemergence of the Taliban [citation needed]. Syria has been a major theater in the proxy conflict throughout its ongoing civil war, which began in 2011. The Syrian Civil War became so vulnerable to foreign interference because of the gradual isolation that Syria faced from the international community beginning shortly after 9/11. January 2, 2021. See More Alerts. War and Proxy War: Players and State of Play Now that it is evident that the Russians value outcome of the Syrian war highly, and that they have good reasons for doing so, let us run through the basic state of play. There is a strong internal dimension to the war in Syria but it has been obscured by various layers and dimensions of outside intervention and agendas. Calling a conflict like the one in Syria a civil war or a proxy war won’t change the fact that this ongoing conflict is both an unjust and unjustified bloodshed. The Syrian regime wants to stay in power at any cost while there was certainly a civil popular opposition in Syria when the uprising first began. Why is Iran involved in a proxy war in Syria? By one count, there have been over 150 Israeli strikes in Syria stretching all the way back to 2012. It has unlocked the cravings of Syria’s closest neighbors – Iran, Israel, Turkey – and those from further away. While it is quite unlikely that Additionally, in light of the immense help that these countries have, in fact, provided to the Assad regime, Syria is still unwilling to refuse the continued support of these countries regardless of the destruction caused by their military involvement and their attempts to negotiate with other countries without Syrian support. The U.S. responded by warning their Russian and Syrian counterparts to stay clear of the territories they are operating in or risk being shot down. – As if the Syrian Conflict couldn’t get any more complicated, a new proxy war is brewing between several foreign powers in the northern part of the country. This is not the end of Syria’s efforts to restore its international credibility, but it would be a strong first step that could enable willingness on the part of other countries to negotiate. In 1971, the USSR was able to establish its first military foothold in the Middle East via the construction of a naval base in the Syrian port city of Tartus. © Copyright 2021 Center for the National Interest All Rights Reserved. The main international players in the proxy war are Saudi Arabia, who is supporting the Sunni rebels, and Russia and Iran, who are allying with the Assad regime. But so should the foreign nations — such as the United States, Turkey, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Jordan — that have been funding the chaotic melange of fighters inside Syria. The talks for the first time brought Iran to the negotiating table with Saudi Arabia, which are said to be engaged in a proxy war in Syria. Yet, unlike in the original Cold War, which was mostly a war by proxy, the new confrontation is a more direct engagement. And what's the cost? Syria remained in Lebanon long after the signing of the 1989 Taif Accords that ended Lebanon’s fifteen-year-long civil war. She is a senior at Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine where she is majoring in Government and Legal Studies with a concentration in comparative politics in the Middle East and Africa. Exclusive: Saudi-Iranian proxy war over Syria spreads to Davos. A huge array of actors are now involved on the ground and from afar, and many increasingly view the conflict as an existential struggle. During the Lebanese Civil War, the Maronites requested Syrian assistance in suppressing the rise of a Muslim socialist movement, which Syria agreed would destabilize the region. But as Syria fragmented, it soon became an internationalised civil war with different major powers supporting different sides in a proxy war for influence in the Middle East. Syria and Russia, on the other hand, have had a much rockier friendship. It is a proxy war that has become intensely transnational, with high levels of regional spillover and engagement by regional and international actors, both state and non‐state actors alike. The Syrian war is not only a proxy war. The Turkish target bank in Syria’s Idlib province is steadily expanding. As a result, no other country was willing or able to step in to prevent Saudi Arabia and Iran from resolving their political differences on the Syrian battlefield. However, Turkey was relatively quick to adapt to the realities on the ground in Syria and rather successful in forming an army from the diverse groups of Islamist fighters despite the fact that it had no history of resorting proxy wars. In Syria, both the Bosnia and Iraq analogies should point us toward a greater understanding of the proxy war problem in modern civil wars. Syria has always had a controversial foreign policy with Israel and Lebanon, but countries like the United States had been able to see that long-term animosity was not in their favor. Iran has been able to stand against Western pressure, and could offer the Assad regime the support needed to maintain its position in Syria, despite national and international threats. The Arab League had repeatedly supported Syria, and despite Syria's controversial alliance with Iran, the Arab League had strongly advocated for their participation in the 2007 Annapolis Conference. First, the Syrian Armed Forces and its allies. The risk of Syria becoming a proxy war between the U.S. and Russia became real last week when Turkey and Syrian jihadists used U.S.-supplied weaponry to shoot down a Russian warplane and rescue helicopter, killing two Russians, a danger that ex-CIA analyst Ray McGovern explores. Therefore, Syria should work to rebuild trust with its former partners by rejoining international organizations to garner support for ending the war without becoming further entangled in the conditionality of proxy warfare. A peaceful uprising against the president of Syria almost eight years ago turned into a full-scale civil war. Civil wars like the one in Syria between the Assad regime and Sunni rebels are destructive, but the intensity of this conflict is unparalleled in the contemporary period, save for the disaster in Yemen. You can change your choices at any time by visiting Your Privacy Controls. Be an important step in helping Syria move forward after the signing of 1989! 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