Sample Political Science Paper on The Conflict Over Syria

The Conflict Over Syria


The conflict being experienced in Syria escalated in 2011 and has claimed more than 250 000 lives so far. More than 4 million Syrians refugees are in neighboring nations, for instance, Turkey, Jordan, Iraq, Egypt, Lebanon and parts of Europe. There are also many internally displaced persons in Syria. The emergence of the of ISIL/Da’esh among other jihadist terror groups in Syria has worsened the state of affairs. Nevertheless, regardless of the philanthropic and security crisis, development towards negotiating a peace deal in Syria’s conflict has been very slow. This aspect has been attributed to the different players’ agenda in the nation, including the Americans, regional nations, Russia and the independent organizations like the Islamic State.

The conflict in Syria is a war that has been built upon security and development issues in the country, which has affected billions of people. Violence in the Syrian war is enhanced when these stress factors are combined with weak aptitude and absence of lawfulness of crucial state institutions. The unrest in Syria began as local anti-governmental protest on social media in Daara city in 2011, which was triggered by the Arab Spring. These demonstrations grew to national wide protests in main cities, for instance, Homs, Hama, Damascus, Aleppo and Adlib among other urban metropolis (Sharp 10). This process attracted a brutal response from the President, Bashar al-Assad. The brutal responses from the Bashar regime include arrests, executions, torture and depriving the protesting regions essential services like electricity and food among other cruel actions. The president also resorted to using chemical weapons to the protestors and in 2013, the conflicts had escalated to a fully blown civil war, leading to a huge humanitarian crisis. The war in Syria has made many serious Syrians to be displaced and others have fled the nation, an aspect that has led to the rise of terror groups in the nation. The war in Syria has taken a wide dimension, with different actors from the international community taking part in it. This essay provides an analysis of the Syrian war, looking first at the history of the Arab Spring and Syria and the current situation in the nation with regard to all actors in the conflict.

The History of the Arab Spring

The Arab Spring involved a sequence of anti-government demonstrations, rebellions and fortified uprisings that were rampant in the Middle East in early 2011 (Dodge 64). Nevertheless, the purpose of these revolts and their success have never been clear in the Arab nations. The name “Arab Spring” was propagated by the Western media in 2011, when the positive rebellion in Tunisia against its former leader Zine El Abidine Ben Ali encouraged parallel anti-government demonstrations in many Arab nations. The name initially referred to the chaos in Eastern Europe in 1989, when apparently invincible Communist administrations began falling as a result of pressure from rebellions. This led to many nations in the earlier Communist bloc to adopt representative political systems and a market economy. Nevertheless, the actions in the Middle East did not follow the same direction as in Europe. For instance, Egypt, Tunisia and Yemen entered an indeterminate evolution period, while Syria and Libya have been drawn into unending conflict and war. The affluent dominions in the Persian Gulf have not been moved by the events. Therefore, the use of the word “Arab Spring” has since been disparaged because of the ineffectiveness of the what it was meant to mean.

The main reason for the Arab Spring movements of 2011 was a form of expression of inherent dislike at the Arab dictatorships regimes, irritation at the cruelty of security gears, redundancy, increasing bills and fraud in the nations, especially after privatization of the state’s assets, like in Syria. However, there was no accord on the political and economic ideals in the Arab Spring nations, which would ensure a smooth transition to replace the existing ones. For instance, people in antimonarchist administrations like Egypt and Tunisia sought to overthrow the president, but apart from free elections, they had no idea on what to do next. The Arab Spring was, thus, a failure since there were no strategies to remove the authoritarian administrations and substitute them with unwavering self-ruled systems in the region (Dodge 64). The rebellions have also not succeeded in eradicating corrupt rulers, which could enhance the living standards of people. The prolonged instability in the nations have added pressure on the struggling local national economies, widened the gap between the Islamists and secular Arabs and led to the wars that are being witnessed like the Syrian case.

The History of Syria

Syria, as legitimately called the Syrian Arab Republic, is located in the Asian Continent. It borders Lebanon, Turkey, Iraq, Jordan and Israel. The nation’s capital is Damascus, which is the largest city. Socially, Syria entails a young and swiftly rising populace. Many people in the nation are of Arab origin and communicate in Arabic, which is the nation’s formal language. French and English language are understood by several people. Kurdish, Aramaic, Armenian and Circassian are also spoken in particular regions.

The chief marginal groups in Syria are the Kurds, Turkomans, Armenians, Assyrians and Circassians. Nearly 75% of the nation’s residents are Sunni Muslims (Pierret 1). Others are Alawite Muslims found in Jabal al-Nusayriyah, Druze located in the South, and other minor Muslim sects, which embrace a minority of the nation’s population. In Syria, the main Christian groups: Armenian Orthodox, Greek Orthodox as well as Syrian Orthodox, consist of almost 10% of the population. Initially, Syria was also made up of the Jewish community, but it left the nation after expatriation restraints were lifted. Politically, Syria is administered by the President, under a constitution. The president is ratified by a popular referendum to hold office for seven-year term and is limited for two terms, which was effected from 2014. The government, on the other hand, is controlled by the prime minister who is selected by the president.

Economically, Syria was a tremendously agricultural nation until 1960s when industrialization commenced (Sarris).  Since 1974, oil has also been Syria’s most significant source of revenue (Almohamad 1). The skirmish in Syria is believed to be partially caused by the operational and economic glitches that were prevalent in the nation in the early 2000s. Prior to the ferocious rebellion of 2011, the nations of the greater Fertile Crescent had undergone one of the starkest droughts. This disaster affected many populations, especially in of Eastern Syria. Thousands of families in the nation lost almost their whole livelihoods and faced extreme adversity. The income of the affected households also reduced thereby compromising their assets as a source of livelihood. This triggered a far-reaching migration from the affected areas to cities in search for better lives. During this time, the international community did not promptly respond to the needs of the people through donor organizations. The mass migration of farming households to metropolitan centers and mounting disparities among populations ultimately triggered the political discontent, causing unrest in the nation. The intensification of the war in Syria has further affected the economic situation in the nation and shielded the development chances for years to come. The skirmishes in Syria have enhanced the reorganization of resources and capital to the martial has enhanced black markets and lawlessness, thus, growing dependency on external support.

The Current Situation in Syria

The current war in Syria has taken a new shape with different national, regional and international actors being involved in the conflict. The external participation in the Syrian war denotes the partisan, martial and operational backing to parties engaged in the current war in Syria. Many of the parties taking part in the conflict receive different sorts of backing from foreign nations and other organs that are outside Syria. Therefore, the fragmentary war in Syria is commonly labelled as a run of corresponding proxy combats among regional and world powers, mainly between the U.S. and Iran vs Saudi Arabia (Barnard].

The Syrian administration is managerially and militarily backed by Iran and Russia (Barnes-Dacey 25). Ba’athist administration is also fully supported by the Lebanese Hezbollah party and by Palestinian group PFLP-GC among other groups. On the contrary, the Syrian opposition, which is represented under the Syrian National Coalition, receives monetary, logistical, civil and, in some instances, military backing from main Sunni states in the Middle East connected to the U.S. They include Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey. From the onset of the conflict in Syria, key Western nations, for instance, the U.S, France and the U.K. have offered backing to the opposition and other dissident groups in Syria, which are not terror associated. These include the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), which the predominant fortified service of the Kurdish Supreme Committee has received martial and logistic backing from Iraqi Kurdistan and air support from the U.S., Canada, French and British air force. One of the predominant groups that are participating in the conflict in Syria is the Islamic State of Syria and Iraq (ISIS). This is a Levant and radicalized jihadist group that receives support from numerous non-state organizations from in the Muslim world. The ISIS has claimed a noteworthy terrain in Syria′s territory since 2014 and has been acknowledged globally as a terror organization. Several Western and other nations like the U.S., Russia and France, have engaged the group in direct military action in their regions of Syria. In return, the group has carried out retaliatory terror attacks in their home nations, leaving many people dead. The recent attack took place recently in France and left 84 civilians dead in Bastille Day.

Russia represents the only foreign nation with martial assets amenably installed in Syria, which are used to attack the ISIS as well as other anti-government forces in Syria that were requested by the Syrian government. Nevertheless, the military actions of Russia in Syria have received numerous censure, especially from the U.S. and other regional allies, such as Turkey. Russia has overstretched its mandate in a number of ways. In November 2015, one of its military jets clashed with a Turkish jet in the Turkish territory, thus, showing its violation of airspace rules. Russia′s attacks on Syria have also not been genuine, since they have bombed several areas under the anti-government forces, which are backed by Turkey, particularly in the Bayırbucak region.

International Involvement


Russia has been a military partner of Syria since 1956. In the ongoing war in Syria, the nation continues to provide Assad’s led administration with weaponries, conveyance military and methodological gurus to train Syrian militaries and use Russian-prepared arms. Russia also assists the government led forces in fixing and preserving Syrian weapons. Inquiries by correspondents has discovered that Russia is keen on keeping the Syrian economy awash by conveying several banknotes into the nation by air. Russia has obstructed different resolves serious to President Assad at the UN Security Council and has been persistent to provide arms to the Syrian martial in spite of international reproach. Russia also has its forces at Latakia airbase, which is the heartland of President Assad’s Shia.

United States

The U.S. has not supported the reigning government of President Assad. It has, in most occasions, accused President Assad for the extensive outrages in Syria and has insisted that he should leave office. Nevertheless, the U.S. also agrees on the need for a negotiated settlement to put to an end the conflict in Syria as well as the creation of a transitional government (Kinninmont 48). In the conflicts, the U.S. has continued to support Syria’s leading antagonism alliance, the National Coalition, by offering its military backing to moderate the rebels group. Furthermore, the U.S. also began conducting aerial strikes on the Islamic State (IS) jihadist terror group in Syria since September 2014. This was part of the transnational alliance that was to face off the jihadist group. Nevertheless, the U.S. has tried at all costs to avert any attacks that seem beneficial to President Assad’s forces or mediating on any wars between his government and the rebels. Initially, the U.S. initiated a program meant to train and arm 5,000 Syrian rebels so that they could tackle the IS on the ground. However, this program did not sail through due to a poor response from the Syrian rebels. This made the U.S. to focus on the main leaders of the rebel groups.

Regional Involvement

Saudi Arabia

According to the Sunni-ruled Gulf kingdom, President Assad is unfit to offer a solution in the ongoing conflict and insists he must resign and hand over power to a transitional government or be removed by force. Saudi Kingdom is among the major powers that are backing several rebel groups to the Asaad’s government through provision of military and financial powers, for instance, those with Islamist philosophies (Kinninmont 48). The kingdom has also demanded for a no-fly zone to be enforced in Syria to guard citizens from assaults being orchestrated by the Syrian government forces. Nevertheless, Saudi leaders were infuriated by the U.S.: Obama administration’s resolution not to intercede in Syria after a 2013 chemical assault believed to have been coordinated by Mr. Assad’s forces. However, they later decided to be part of the U.S.-led alliance air operation against IS. This was triggered by the concerns about the group, which was advancing and its popularity escalating among a marginal groups of Saudis.


Iran is understood to be using billions of dollars each year to support President Assad and his Alawite-controlled government. Iran is believed to provide martial consultants and fund armaments, in addition to lines of credit and oil transfers to the government of Syria under Mr. Assad.

Mr Assad is also believed to be a close ally of Iran in the whole of the Arab region. Furthermore, Syria represents the main transportation point for Iranian weaponries consignments to the Lebanese Shia Islamist society, Hezbollah. Iran is also assumed to have played a critical role in influencing Hezbollah’s resolution to send troops to western Syria to help Assad backed forces. Other militiamen originating from Iran and Iraq claiming to be defending Shia holy locations are also engaged in battles with the Syrian troops in support of the government. Iran has also come out clear to support a nonviolent change of power in Syria that would end in free, multi-party elections. When the world powers met in Vienna in pursuit for a peace dialogue over Syria, Iran was also involved.


Qatar is believed to be backing a number of insurgent groups fighting against the Syrian government (Kinninmont 48). The nation has openly opposed Mr. Assad and the Syrian administration. Alongside other Persian Gulf nations, Qatar has funded insurgents battling against Mr. Assad and also provided them with armaments and training. For instance, in 2013, Qatar offered the rebels with shoulder-fired artilleries, disregarding the American representatives’ caution that the weaponries could at one time be in the hands of terrorist organizations. Qatar also provides a home to the military partnership’s key air center of operations at Al Udeid Air Base. This is the center where the American-led air operations against the Islamic State is coordinated.


The Turkish government has remained to be a constant opponent of Mr. Assad’s administration from the time when the rebellion in Syria began (Kinninmont 48). The Turkish President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, maintained that the conflict in Syria was as a result of Syrians failure to accept an autocrat who has led to the loss of many deaths in one nation. Turkey is a vital supporter of the Syrian antagonism and has encountered the pressure of hosting millions of refugees from Syria. Nevertheless, Turkish policy to permit rebel battalions, weapons consignments and expatriates to pass through its larger border with Syria has been abused by external jihadists who join the IS to escalate the conflict in Syria.

Furthermore, Turkey also approved the US-led alliance counter to IS to use its military air bases in their assaults on IS bomb attacks. Nevertheless, Turkey has also been a critical supporter of the Syrian Kurdish Popular Protection Units (YPG), which is believed by the Western nations to be an associate of the debarred Turkish Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) terrorist group.

Non State Actors

There are a number of other extraneous fighters who have joined the Syrian Civil War in opposition to Assad and for other reasons. Some of these groups are jihadists while others are have come to assist the Syrian rebels. Numerous groups, for instance, the Abdullah Azzam Shaheed Brigade, Fatah al-Islam and the al-Nusra Front have claimed to have taken part in operations in Syria. Jihadist frontrunners and intelligence sources have claimed that foreign units started entering Syria in February 2012 from other parts of the world. Some of the non-state actors in the Syrian conflict include the Islamic State (ISIS), YPG, Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, Hezbolla, Ahrar al-Sham, Jahbat al- Nusra and the Jaysh al-Islam among others. Among these groups, the ISIS, which supports the Levant, has emerged as the fiercest jihadist group that has caused tension across the whole world. The organization has made its intensions clear: to get territorial control in the nation and apply the extreme Islamic law in Syria and other parts. ISIS began in Iraq and has now spread over Syria.

The terror group has inflicted high class executions on Christians and other western persons in Syria, which has triggered attacks from the international community powers. Nonetheless, the ISIS has also hit back at the Western nations by committing terror attacks in their nations that have left several people dead and others injured. The ability of the ISIS to carry out attacks outside Syria and Iraq is because of its aptitude to recruit and train fighters from different nations, and upon returning to their nations, they easily execute their attacks (Ashour 3). Due to its extensive network and effects, some other jihadist groups across the globe have begun pledging allegiance to the terror group, for instance, the book haram and al Shahab in Western and Eastern Africa respectively.


The battle in Syria and the grief of the Syrian citizens has no indication of ending anytime soon. The gauge of the calamity is still being felt, having caused thousands deaths, other people have been injured and displaced to neighboring nations. Syria currently represents the world’s largest philanthropic calamity. As the crisis exaggerates, it is important to find a permanent solution that will end the conflict. A Syrian-led political process will lead to a nonviolent and all-encompassing transition, founded on the ideologies of the Geneva communiqué of 30 June 2012, which will stabilize the situation in Syria. This will enhance the peace and reconciliation process and establish an environment that will incorporate all the fighting units to end the tensions in the nation. Furthermore, there cannot be peace in Syria under the current governance, which is being accused.


Works Cited

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Ashour, Omar. “Why Does the “Islamic State” Endure and Expand?” (2015). Web. 19 July 2016.

Barnard, Anne, and Karam Shoumali. “US Weaponry Is Turning Syria into Proxy War with Russia.” New York Times (2015). Web. 19 July 2016.

Barnes-Dacey, Julien, and Daniel Levy, eds. The Regional Struggle for Syria. European Council on Foreign Relations, 2013.

Dodge, Toby. “Conclusion: The Middle East after the Arab Spring.” After the Arab Spring: Power Shift in the Middle East (2012): 64-68.

Kinninmont, Jane, and London House. “The Syria Conflict and the Geopolitics of the Region.” IEMed Mediterranean Yearbook (2014).

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