The Ripple Effects of Arab Spring (Part I)

Disclaimer: The following article is based on my own interpretation of the said events. Any material borrowed from published and unpublished sources has been appropriately referenced. I will bear the sole responsibility for anything that is found to have been copied or misappropriated or misrepresented in the following post.

Piyush Sharma, MBA 2015-17, Vinod Gupta School of Management, IIT Kharagpur

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Part I: “Syria – Way to a Rogue Nation”

Syria lies near the junction of Asia, Europe and Africa along the eastern Mediterranean shores. It has flourished in trade and became major trading point for centuries. It had been under various rules since the Persian occupation in 6st century BC to the latest of ISIS or Daesh. ISIS is a militant group of Islamic fundamentalist and believes in Wahhabi doctrine of Sunni Islam. ISIS wants to establish an Islamic Caliphate. ISIS can into headlines because of unique barbarian ways of torturing and killing innocents. ISIS has taken thousands of lives till now.

Current crisis in Syria can be attributed to 2 major factors: Arab Spring, Unstable Iraq. Arab Spring, a democratic uprising against the rulers and their policies, started from Tunisia and spread across Middle East and North Africa. Bashar al-Assad, President of Syria in 2011, tries to crush the uprising by force and even used chemical weapons. This led to massive violent protest by public and attracted a lot of economic and political sanctions by the International community and left Assad with his trusted all weather allies Russia and Iran. US started to fund these protesters and asked Assad to resign from the post of President. Due to protests, the governmental control over various parts of Syria got restricted and this allows various fringe elements to challenge government.

On the other hand, US invasion of Iraq dubbed as “Operation Iraqi Freedom” based on WMD (Weapons of Mass Destruction) only served the purpose of Arms manufacturers. US disbanded the Iraqi army and left majority of army personnel unemployed. After a decade, US left Iraq with weak economy, leadership vacuum and an untrained army. IS got hold of some of these army veterans, newly recruited fighters and bound them together with own interpretation of Islamic State and Sharia law. Without any concrete defence and lack of willingness of western world to enter another battle, Iraqi army lost control a major part of Iraq to ISIS. This major portion includes some small oil refineries of al-qaim, a small town near Syrian border, which later became the revenue source of ISIS to recruit more fighters.

Within months, ISIS got hold of nearly half of each Iraq and Syria and established its own Islamic State. To sustain such large land, money and power plays critical role. ISIS’s main funding is coming from selling oil to other neighbouring countries at discounted rate. Recapturing these oil lines and cutting its funding is the only solution to contain ISIS. ISIS should die a “Natural Death” because Extremist views cannot die by bombing or raiding. They only flourish by these acts. It is essential to target the root that is extremism and not the chosen branches. Modernization of every religion (Including Islam) is the only way forward in this globalized world.

As of today, Syria is fragmented in dozens of self-ruling ethnic group which are fighting with each other. This is having a heavy toll on normal Syrian population. A large portion of the population is internally displaced. Some has taken asylum in Europe and neighbouring countries such as Lebanon, Jordon and Turkey. We will look at it in detail in Part II “Syria – Greatest Migration Crisis of Modern Times”.

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