Beirut: In a world gripped by a pandemic, global unrest and a fast-moving news cycle, it can be difficult to remember that the war in Syria is still happening.
Even before the coronavirus outbreak took over daily lives around the globe, the conflict, which began in early 2011, had largely fallen off the world’s collective radars — reduced to a never-ending fight involving an ever-more complex web of players and refugees that few remember once lived in a country they called home.
But as it enters its tenth year, the war — which gave rise to the Islamic State group and triggered the worst humanitarian catastrophe of the 21st century — has shown it is still creating new tragedies that can have an outsized impact on global politics.
Earlier this month, Turkish and Syrian troops were clashing in Syria’s northwest. That brought NATO-member Turkey and Russia, which back opposing sides of the war, to the brink of direct confrontation, and produced an unprecedented wave of displaced people. Arguing that it faces a potential new influx of refugees from Syria, Turkey announced it would no longer stop its vast migrant and refugee population from illegally entering Greece, touching off a new crisis for the European Union.
More than half of Syria’s pre-war population of 23 million people have been driven from their homes, and a staggering 80% of the population live beneath the poverty line, according to the United Nations. Half the country lies in ruins. A political process does not exist. Contrary to what some may hope, the Syrian war is nowhere near its end-game.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an opposition war monitoring group, said 217 people have been killed in violence in Daraa over the past months, including 45 civilians, 113 soldiers and pro-government gunmen, and 37 rebels who signed deals with the state in 2018.
“The growing insurgency in Daraa and the poor economic situation in Damascus is evidence that the war will not abruptly end, and in fact the socio-political and military circumstances are present to indicate that this will rumble on for many years to come,” Makki said....