Browse through any television channel or open a newspaper anywhere in the world, the most talked about global crisis currently is the on-going conflict in Syria.
The recent direct involvement of the United States seems to have only complicated the issue further.
Last week the US attacked Syrian military base with missiles, killing 6 personnel. It justified its action by stating that the attack was in response to the Syrian government’s use of chemical weapons against civilians that had resulted in more than 80 deaths.
As was expected, following US intervention, the world quickly divided itself into two camps with Saudi Arab, Japan, Turkey and Britain siding with America while China, Iran and Russia condemning the attack.
The Roots of the Syrian Conflict
The Syrian conflict as we know it today began in 2011 when a faction of the Syrian people formed a militia group, “Free Syrian Army” to bring down the dictatorship of Bashar ul Asaad. Asaad retaliated with force to curb the rebellion. The violence quickly escalated and led to the beginning of the Syrian civil war.
Middle East has forever been a battlefield for powerful countries to flex their military muscle and push their foreign policy agendas. Accordingly, soon after the commencement of the civil war, the United States and Russia became remotely involved in the conflict by providing funds and arms to militants and the Asaad-led regime respectively. This then changed the nature of the conflict from a civil to a proxy war.
Non-state actors including Al-Qaida, ISIS(Daish), Al-Nusra, Kurds and Hezbollah (again funded by one of the two camps) also soon became parties to the war.
The Sectarian Element
The uprising and consequent hostilities in Syria also divided the Muslim world on sectarian lines. Sunni-led governments endorsed the rebels while Shia-led regimes put their support behind Bashar ul Asaad.
Once again, in a bid to push their sectarian agendas foreign governments furnished non-state actors with weapons and military training.
Consequences of the Proxy War in Syria
The involvement of foreign countries in Syria has not only complicated the nature of this conflict but has also resulted in unthinkable hardships for the civilians. In the last six years, about 300,000 Syrians have lost their lives because of the on-going war.
Whether its powerful countries such as the United States and Russia or Muslim countries with sectarian interests, the fact of the matter is that death and destruction in Syria is being allowed complete impunity.
At this point the reason that led to the civil war in Syria seems to have become irrelevant and the most pressing concern is the cessation of hostilities to prevent further loss of life.
As a global citizen I plead to the superpowers to adhere to the many human rights conventions that they claim to abide by and take mercy on the innocent Syrians rather than treating them as collateral damage.
As a Muslim, I urge all Muslim states to look beyond their sect and ethnicity and find common ground to work with each other to save valuable Syrian lives rather than working against each other to kill unarmed civilians.