Syria. The fighting from 2011 developed during the year into a full-scale civil war with often over 100 casualties daily. The regime under Bashar al-Assad became increasingly crowded and responded with mindless aerial and artillery attacks against the rebels in the so-called Free Syrian Army (FSA), something that severely affected civilians.
The regime committed several regular massacres. In the village of Taldou near the town of Hula, the UN reported that 108 residents, including 49 children, were killed May 25 by artillery fire and by the merciless Shabi militia who went door-to-door with knives and firearms. During the year, several reports followed on how the regime’s forces tortured and massacred, among other things. children.
Exactly how the control over the country was distributed between the regime and the FSA was difficult to determine as the fighting raged back and forth. But it was clear that there were battles throughout the country, from July even in Damascus and in the three million city Aleppo in the north. In Aleppo, the rebels made progress, but with fighter jets, attack helicopters and armored infantry, the regime took control of the central part of the city. Tough fighting also raged over supply routes to the border with Turkey.
- AbbreviationFinder.org: Provides most commonly used acronyms and abbreviations for Syria. Also includes location map, major cities, and country overview.
On several occasions, the major cities were shaken by bomb attacks, the most powerful July 18 when the Security Service headquarters in Damascus exploded and four of al-Assad’s closest men were killed. The Jihadist group Liwa al-Islam, which is a member of the FSA, assumed responsibility for that act.
At the beginning of the year, al-Assad tried to bring about political reform. In a referendum on February 26, they gave voting clear signs for a new constitution that contained some marginal improvements. The new parliamentary election held on May 7 was between members of al-Assad’s Bath Party and Bath Loyal non-party members. After the election, al-Assad appointed Minister of Agriculture Riyad Hijab as new prime minister, but he resigned to the opposition in August and was replaced by Health Minister Wael al-Halqi.
Many other heavy members of the regime also dropped out during the year, often to the FSA. But within the opposition there were also a growing number of jihadists from other Arab countries. At the political level, the dominant opposition Syrian National Council (SNC) in November joined the newly formed National Coalition for Syria’s revolutionary and opposition forces. This also included the FSA and said one Sunni Muslim, Alawite, Christian, Kurdish and secular force. The US, EU, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar were among those supporting the new coalition.
Otherwise, the world community was closest to action paralysis. Syria’s strong armed forces deterred. The Russian Federation, with interests in Syria, provided arms to al-Assad and together with China blocked several UN resolutions aimed at pushing the regime to a ceasefire. In January, the Arab League called home the observer force it had held in place since 2011. The UN appointed a special envoy for Syria, the former Secretary-General Kofi Annan, who was assisted by a UN force with 300 observers. Others became increasingly frustrated and handed over their assignment to veteran diplomat Lakhdar Brahimi in August at the same time as the UN force left Syria, citing that the terms of the mission were not fulfilled. Assessors believed that diplomacy had thus lost its relevance. A large number of countries closed their embassies in Damascus,
In February, a UN commission ruled that the regime’s abuse of the population involved crimes against humanity. In December, the UN reported that 59,648 people had been killed since the uprising began in spring 2011. The organization Avaaz reported that 18,000 missing persons were also identified. About 500,000 were estimated to have moved abroad, most to neighboring countries. 2.5 million were internally displaced. Even those who avoided the direct battles struggled with water shortages, power outages, extensive unemployment and large price increases on food and fuel.
Syria Neighboring countries
Israel: Syria’s relations with Israel dominated foreign policy as early as the first Arab-Israeli war in 1948. Israel then became a leading dimension in Syrian politics from the1967 Six-Day War, when the Golan Heights were occupied by Israel. There is still a formal war between the two countries after a ceasefire was signed in 1949, monitored by the United Nations United Nations Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO).
Through the 1991 Madrid process, Syria entered into negotiations with Israel. They stopped when Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated in 1995, when the parties were near a settlement. They were later, and without solution, led in 1999–2000 and 2004–2006; then, and with Turkey as an intermediary, in 2008.
The war in Syria after 2011 has changed the relationship between Syria and Israel. Israeli bomb attacks in Syria have essentially aimed to weaken Iran’s position in the country, and not as an engagement in the war against the Syrian regime. Israel has also attacked the Lebanese Hezbollah in Syria. In addition, the war has led Syria as a functioning state far away, and thus also the stability previously found in this part of the Middle East.
Lebanon: The relationship with Lebanon is historically and politically special. Syria regards the neighboring country as part of a culturally large Syrian area, and to belong to its security policy sphere of interest. This has led to widespread Syrian interference with, and partial domination of, Lebanese politics, especially since 1976. Syria then deployed military forces in Lebanon, formally as part of an Arab peacekeeping force, following the outbreak of the civil war there.
Syria’s Lebanese policy is strategically conditioned by Syrian security interests, and pragmatically put to life by supporting those actors in Lebanon who can contribute to a Lebanese political order that serves Syria’s interests. Syria has therefore supported various groups in the Lebanese conflict.
The Syria-Israel confrontation in Lebanon reached its peak during Israel’s invasion in June 1982, when Israeli forces defeated the Syrian air defense and reached the main road between Damascus and Beirut. When Syrian forces moved into West Beirut again in 1986, it was at the request of Sunni leaders who wanted help to stop fighting between Shiite, Drusian and Palestinian guerrillas.
Syria’s dominant role in Lebanese politics was challenged in 1989–1990 by General Michel Aoun, who went to war to liberate the country from the Syrian military presence. When Syria and its Lebanese allies won, in 1991 a friendship and cooperation agreement was signed between Lebanon and Syria.
Syria’s influence helped change the constitutional framework and the distribution of power between the confessional groups in Lebanon – both through the 1975 Damascus Agreement and the Taif Agreement of 1989. Through the Taif Agreement, Syria gained international acceptance for its special role in Lebanon, including continued deployment of Lebanon. troops in parts of the country. Syrian forces remained as an experienced occupation force in Lebanon until 2005. After Syria was accused of being behind the assassination of Lebanon’s former prime minister Rafiq al-Hariri in 2005, the country, through the so-called Cedar Revolution, was pressured to withdraw altogether.
Full diplomatic relations with Lebanon were first established in 2008.
Egypt: Syria’s relationship with Egypt has been changeable, from close cooperation to strong contradictions. Syria entered into a union with Egypt (United Arab Republic) from 1958 to 1961, originating in the Pan- Arabian vision, and the two joined forces in wars against Israel in 1967 and 1973. The defeat in the October war in 1973 led Egypt’s President Anwar al-Sadat changed strategy, and entered into a peace treaty in 1979. Thus, Syria severed relations with Egypt. Relations with Egypt were resumed in 1989.
The war in Syria after 2011 has changed relations between the two countries, when President Mohamed Morsi broke ties with Syria in 2011. After he was deposed in 2013, diplomatic relations were restored.
Iran: Syria’s relations with Iran are an important dimension both in Syrian foreign policy and in regional relations, with Syria breaking with the Arab world and ally with Iran over Iraq when the two countries went to war in 1980 – despite the fact that Iran did not is an Arab state and that it is Islamist, as opposed to secular Syria. The reason was that after the Islamic revolution in 1979, Iran turned away from the West and toward Israel, while the Baath regime in Baghdad was in opposition to the Baath leadership in Damascus – and also an opponent of the West.
For Syria, the strategic alliance with the Iran Baath regime provided strategic depth, and an ally against Israel as well as Iraq and Turkey. Alongside the security policy sides, which also include access to weapons systems, the alliance has provided Syria with economic benefits, including Iranian oil at a subsidized price. Through Syria, Iran has gained access to the Mediterranean, and close access to Israel’s foremost non-state opponents, Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza, as well as a place in Arab politics. The alliance with Syria has also prevented a united Arab front against Iran.
The war in Syria after 2011 strengthened relations between the two countries, as Iran became Syria’s leading supporter in the fight against the rebels. Iran provided weapons as well as advisors and soldiers who participated in the government forces – and with weapons to its ally Hezbollah, which also fought in Syria.
Iraq: Syria’s relationship with Iraq was early interchangeable, characterized by rivalry between the two parts of the Baath Party, as well as Syria’s alliance with Iran during and after the first Gulf War, 1980–88. After Iraq mobilized for support for Syria during the October war, Iraq criticized Syria for entering into a ceasefire with Israel following the defeat. Subsequently, rivalries between the two countries’ leaders, Hafez al-Assad and Saddam Hussein, also characterized relations.
When Syria chose to support Iran in the Gulf War in 1980, it led Syria to become a strategic ally in Iran while weakening its rival in Iraq. During the 1991 Gulf War, Syria joined the coalition that attacked Iraq. Syria, on the other hand, refused to take part in the US-led attack on Iraq in 2003.
The border with Iraq was opened in 1997 after being closed for 15 years and economic relations resumed. In 2000, Syria and Iraq established the first diplomatic relations in two decades (with full relations from 2006). Following the invasion of Iraq in 2003, Syria was accused by the United States of opening the border with Iraq for the transportation of capital and weapons, in support of Hussein’s supporters. Several wanted members of the Iraqi Baath regime sought refuge in Syria. In doing so, Syria also helped to build an Islamist and jihadist movement in Iraq – and then to spread to Syria, and to a significant extent contribute to the war there after 2011.
The war in Syria after 2011 is closely linked to developments in Iraq – and vice versa. This is particularly true of the rise of the leading jihadist groups – Jabhat al-Nusra and the Islamic State (IS), both of which originate in al-Qaeda in Iraq. IS utilized the war in Syria, where it established a base area to attack Iraq, and take over areas there.
The second dimension of the war that touches Syria-Iraq relations is the Kurdish question. The Syrian-Kurdish militia People’s Protection Units (YPG), which has become a major factor in the war, has close ties to the Iraqi-Kurdish Peshmerga force.
Turkey: Syria’s relations with Turkey have been most strained. This is due to both historical reasons and disagreement over the management of the common Euphrates water resources, and the military cooperation between Turkey and Israel in the mid-1990s. Turkey, in turn, has protested Syria’s support for the guerrilla in Turkish Kurdistan. A major cause of a persistent difficult relationship lies in the French mandate’s surrender of the Syrian area Alexandretta to Turkey in 1939. During the Cold War, Turkey’s membership of NATO and Syria’s close relations with the Soviet Unionto the contradictions. After a period of sharp enmity, at the border of war in summer 1996 and again in 1998.
The war in Syria after 2011 has significantly worsened relations between the Syrian government and Turkey. The Syrian opposition, both political and military, sought refuge in Turkey and was allowed to operate from there from the start of the war. This enabled a build-up, and brought weapons and foreign warriors into Syria. The Turkish government also assisted the Free Syrian Army (FSA) with intelligence, weapons, training and hangouts. Turkey is also accused of supporting jihadist groups by letting them pass into Syria.
The situation was sharpened after Syria shot down a Turkish fighter plane in 2012. Turkey repeatedly targeted targets in Syria, and several times sent forces into the country. Especially from 2014/15, Turkey has used the war to attack the PKK. Turkey has also targeted its allies in Syria: People’s Protection Units (YPG). In 2019, Turkey invaded northern Syria, taking control of an area along the border, along with Russian forces. Turkey is the country that has received the most Syrian refugees, and one objective of the occupation was to establish an area where refugees could be sent back to.
Jordan: Syria’s relationship with Jordan has been characterized by Syria having viewed the country, like Lebanon, as part of historic Syria. Conversely, Jordan’s King Abdullah, the founder of Transjordan, had the same approach, but with himself as a rallying point. With his death in 1951, the relationship entered a phase of ordinary relationships. The relationship deteriorated from 1957, with a closed border and broken diplomatic relations; further deteriorated when Syria entered the union with Egypt the following year. Armed groups trained in Syria infiltrated Jordan to undermine the monarchy. The gap increased as a result of Baath the regime’s takeover of Syria in 1963. In 1970, Syrian forces entered Jordan in support of the PLO during the conflict between the Palestinians and the Jordanian regime (Black September), and Syria broke new diplomatic relations the following year.
In 1975-76, the two countries were close to forming a union before the situation deteriorated again. Jordan supported the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood during the Islamic uprising in Syria in 1979. After defeating it, Syria sent forces to the Jordanian border in 1980, and there was fear of war. Jordan’s close relationship with Iraq, with its support for Iraq during the first Gulf War, contributed to the poor relations between Syria and Jordan; so did Jordan’s signing of a bilateral peace agreement with Israel in 1994. There has also been disagreement over the right to water resources from the Jarmuk River.
The war in Syria after 2011 has changed the relationship between the two countries, and Jordan is among the states that have supported the Syrian opposition’s demand for a regime change. Jordan also participates in the military coalition that in both Iraq and Syria fights jihadists; Operation Inherent Resolve (OIR). Jordan is used as one of the base areas, and countries in the Gulf have brought supplies to the Syrian opposition through Jordan. In 2011, Jordan opened the border for refugees from Syria in 2011, and is one of the countries that has received the most Syrian refugees.
Saudi Arabia: Syria’s relations with Saudi Arabia worsened as Syria took Iran’s side in the war against Iraq in the first Gulf War in 1980, but improved as Syria joined the US / Saudi-led coalition as in 1991 attack Iraq to free Kuwait. Relations were weakened as a result of the assassination of Lebanon’s former prime minister Rafiq al-Hariri in 2005, who had close relations with Saudi Arabia. The situation improved in the 2000s.
The war in Syria after 2011 has completely changed relations, and Saudi Arabia has been one of the foremost supporters of the Syrian opposition from the outset, with political, economic and military support to several groups, probably also Islamist ones. Saudi Arabia participates in the coalition behind Operation Inherent Resolve (OIR).
Palestine: Syria’s relationship with the liberation movement, and later the Palestinian autonomy, has been characterized by attempts to control the Palestinian liberation struggle, and eventually a bad relationship between Hafez al-Assad and PLO leader Yasir Arafat.
Syria supported the Palestinian liberation struggle, politically, principally and practically, but sought to control it. Syria supported several organizations that fought Arafat and his, in Syria’s view, for moderate line. This was especially done by allowing more radical, extreme Palestinian groups to be arrested in Syria, partly by interfering directly with internal Palestinian affairs in Lebanon – where Syrian forces were deployed against Palestinian guerrillas. Syria also had control over Palestinian military units, including a unit in the Palestine Liberation Army (PLA), which was part of the Syrian army. While Syria joined Jordan in 1970 to support the PLO in the fight against the Jordanian government, Syria went against the PLO during the Lebanese civil war in 1976. The Egyptian-Israeli peace process of 1977 brought Syria and the PLO back together, but Syria did not support the PLO when Israel invaded Lebanon in 1978, then in 1982. Syria contributed in 1983 to the rest of the Palestinian guerrilla having to leave Lebanon, after supporting an uprising against Arafat’s management.
Syria did not participate in the Oslo Canal and spoke out against the agreements concluded between the PLO and Israel – and encouraged the Palestinian groups that opposed them.
The war in Syria after 2011 has not significantly changed the relationship between Syria and the Palestinians, but the war has affected the Palestinian refugees in Syria. Members of Palestinian groups have participated in the war on the part of the Syrian government.
According to countryaah, the population of Syria in 2012 was 17,997,297, ranking number 61 in the world. The population growth rate was -3.370% yearly, and the population density was 98.0091 people per km2.