Arab Spring in Syria -The Nation

Spread the word

The Arab Spring was a series of popular pro-democracy uprisings that enveloped several largely Muslim countries. The events began in the spring of 2011. However, the political and social impact of these popular uprisings remains significant today.

The term “Spring” refers to the Revolutions of 1848, also known as the “people’s spring” when political upheavals swept Europe. Ever since spring has been used to describe movements toward democracy. Western media began popularising the term “Arab Spring” after successful uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt—it also gave hope to Syrian pro-democracy activists.

The movement started in March 2011 when a peaceful protest erupted in Syria after 15 boys were detained and tortured for writing graffiti in support of the Arab Spring. One of the boys, a 13-year-old, was killed after having been brutally tortured. The Syrian government, led by President Bashar al-Assad, responded to the protests by killing hundreds of demonstrators and imprisoning many more. The event caused the situation to develop into a full-blown civil war.

Foreign backing and open intervention have played a big role in Syria’s war. Russia entered the conflict in 2015 and has been the Assad government’s main ally since then. Since 2016, Turkish troops have launched several operations against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) near its borders, as well as against Kurdish groups armed by the United States. The US has armed anti-Assad rebel groups and led an international coalition bombing ISIL targets since 2014. Israel carried out air raids inside Syria, reportedly targeting Hezbollah and pro-government fighters and facilities. The first time Syrian air defences shot down an Israeli warplane was in February 2018.

The US-led international coalition continues to carry out military strikes against the Islamic State and provides support to the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and internal security forces. The pullout of U.S. troops has increased uncertainty around the role of other external parties to the conflict including Iran, Israel, Russia, and Turkey as well as the future of internal actors.

On the other side, peace negotiations have been ongoing between the Syrian government and the opposition to achieve a military ceasefire and political transition in Syria, but the main sticking point has been the fate of Assad. In January 2018, Russia sponsored talks over the future of Syria in the Black Sea city of Sochi, but the opposition bloc boycotted the conference, claiming it was an attempt to undercut the UN effort to broker a deal.

Since the war officially began March 15, 2011, families have suffered under a brutal conflict that has killed hundreds of thousands of people, torn the nation apart, and set back the standard of living by decades. About 5.6 million Syrians are refugees, and another 6.2 million people are displaced within Syria. Nearly 12 million people in Syria need humanitarian assistance. At least half of the people affected by the Syrian refugee crisis are children.

According to the United Nations (UN), more than five million Syrians have had to leave the country. Many have gone to neighbouring countries, like Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey or Iraq. More than six million more people have tried to find safety elsewhere in Syria. Turkey is the largest host country of registered refugees with over 3.6 million Syrian refugees living in the country. In February 2020 About 900,000 people in northwest Syria have fled further north, toward the Turkey border, since conflict increased in December 2019.

Many are living in extreme cold and out-of-doors as schools and hospitals are targeted with bombardment. The only possible solution to end the war is through a political solution in which influential states can take its part by doing negotiation rather than taking sides in the war.