Syria’s nightmare

Published February 23, 2018

EVEN after seven years of a brutal civil war, there appears to be no light on the horizon for the Syrian people.

Over the past few months, it seemed as if the levels of violence had dipped following ‘de-escalation’ efforts and parallel peace parleys backed by different world powers and the UN.

However, the lull was illusory as over the past few days, there has been a serious uptick in bloodshed in the Arab country.

In the Eastern Ghouta suburbs of Damascus, the Syrian government has been carrying out a relentless assault to recapture one of the last major areas held by the rebels.

Though Bashar al-Assad’s regime, aided by Russian airpower, says it is battling ‘terrorists’, the assault has taken an unacceptably high civilian toll.

The UN secretary general has termed Eastern Ghouta “hell on earth”, with over 300 civilian casualties.

Elsewhere, in Afrin near the Turkish border, the situation is equally critical, as Turkish troops have crossed the border to battle Syrian Kurdish militants.

The Kurds have called upon the Syrian government to help repel the Turks, and in the past few days, there has been plenty of tough talk from both Ankara and Damascus.

Meanwhile, earlier this month, Israel — long a destabilising force in the region — attacked multiple targets in Syria after one of its jets was shot down by Damascus for violating Syrian airspace.

It would not be an exaggeration to say Syria is one of the most volatile and complicated regions in the world today.

It was long feared that the civil war — which from the very start featured heavy external involvement — would expand into a larger regional conflict.

Today, it seems we have reached that grim stage; as the Iranian deputy foreign minister told the BBC on Thursday, fears of a regional conflagration sparked by the Syrian conflict are very real.

With the international order in disarray and multilateral diplomacy lacking impact, is it only a matter of time before a new regional conflict in the Middle East materialises?

Published in Dawn, February 23rd, 2018

Opinion

Editorial

Digital growth
Updated 25 Apr, 2024

Digital growth

Democratising digital development will catalyse a rapid, if not immediate, improvement in human development indicators for the underserved segments of the Pakistani citizenry.
Nikah rights
25 Apr, 2024

Nikah rights

THE Supreme Court recently delivered a judgement championing the rights of women within a marriage. The ruling...
Campus crackdowns
25 Apr, 2024

Campus crackdowns

WHILE most Western governments have either been gladly facilitating Israel’s genocidal war in Gaza, or meekly...
Ties with Tehran
Updated 24 Apr, 2024

Ties with Tehran

Tomorrow, if ties between Washington and Beijing nosedive, and the US asks Pakistan to reconsider CPEC, will we comply?
Working together
24 Apr, 2024

Working together

PAKISTAN’S democracy seems adrift, and no one understands this better than our politicians. The system has gone...
Farmers’ anxiety
24 Apr, 2024

Farmers’ anxiety

WHEAT prices in Punjab have plummeted far below the minimum support price owing to a bumper harvest, reckless...