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Syria's Civil War, 2011-ongoing World

Discussion in 'Politics Forum' started by Wharf Rat, Apr 9, 2017.

  1. Wharf Rat Apr 9, 2017
    (Last edited: Jul 23, 2017)
    Wharf Rat

    alligator runnin round my door Prestigious

    Sup y'all. UN ambassador Nikki Haley says Assad will have to be removed in power, but Secretary of State Rex Tillerson indicates otherwise. So we might be doin' a regime change! Or, not! But are you wondering who the hell Assad is, who is he fighting, what is the US doing? Who fuckin knows! But check some resources about it:

    Reddit's /r/syriancivilwar is, compared to both most reddit subs and most other platforms for discussing the war, very very good. It has a sidebar and FAQ that will explain a lot to you and you'll see the latest important news. In general, leans pro-regime and pro-SDF. /r/syrianrebels exists as well, in an attempt to counteract the pro-regime leanings of the other one. That one's just okay in terms of discussion, traffic, etc, but is good to check during important times to understand rebel supporters' positions. syria.liveuamap.com and syriancivilwarmap.com are good sources for updates on all kinds of developments in the war and for maps of it.

    Ok but who is the regime, the rebels, SDF? First of all, wikipedia is actually a pretty good source for the basics, and relatively unbiased. So if you want to find out more about something specific, head there. I'm going to go through some major players, but most of the information will not be original content by me. I'm going to straight up steal it from various other places, word for word, but will link to the place where the quote came from, probably mostly the subreddit. I am an amateur at following this, I'd just like to talk about it here with folks here, so am compiling for y'alls sake. Again, all credit for information, research, knowledge goes to whoever actually wrote the words, not me. I don't know shit. What I'm doing is trying to weed out/update the out of date information to give a more current picture, as well as leave out some of the less important characters who belong in a comprehensive overview, which this is definitely not.

    Government-aligned forces:
    • The regime, the government, Assad: The secularist Arab nationalist Ba'athist government has been headed by Bashar al-Assad since mid-2000.[1] Before, it was his father Hafez al-Assad. Assad is a follower of the Alawi branch of Shia Islam, but most Syrians are Sunni Muslim.
    • Syrian Arab Army (SAA): The army of Assad's government.
    • Hezbollah: Lebanese Shia Islamist political party and militia. Designated by Canada, EU, US, and the UK as a terrorist organization. Operates in Lebanon, Syria, and Iraq.[1]
    • Iran: Shia Islamist democratic republic. Headed by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and lead by President Hassan Rouhani.[1]
    • Russia: Russia. We all know Russia. They are government aligned for sure, but are also working with the SDF in a lesser capacity and does not share the government's hostility towards them. But, we'll get to what they are later.
    • There are many, many other militias and political parties supporting or fighting for Assad, but these are the major ones.
    Syrian Rebels:
    • The Free Syrian Army (FSA): The original rebels. Now, very small players. Backed in the past by US & its allies in the middle east. Originally a group of Syrian Army officer defectors, it quickly became a catch-all coalition for mostly democratic, mostly moderate Islamist* groups. Once upon a time allied with both jihadist* Al Qaeda adjacent groups and democratic SDF/YPG forces, now officially aligned with neither and loosely aligned with some jihadist groups.[2] The officers defected in 2011 in response to violent repression of peaceful protest, but by 2012 or 2013 infighting had weakened the coalition and the anti-Assad rebels became dominated by totally not Al Qaeda groups[3], such as...
    • Ahrar al-Sham (AaS): A Salafi Jihadist rebel group.[2] Adjacent in ideology to Al-Qaeda and its affiliates in the region, like HTS. The main difference between AaS and HTS besides official connections to AQ is that AaS is open to working with groups which don't share its hardline ideology, while HTS is not.[4] Formerly a member of coalitions like the Syrian Islamic Front and the Islamic Front, but the group is powerful enough in numbers and equipment that it is now an entity all its own. Designated a terrorist group by regime aligned actors, generally not designated as such by US-aligned actors.[5]
    • Tahrir al-Sham (HTS): A Salafi Jihadist terrorist rebel group formed out of a merger between AQ affiliates Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, formerly Jabhat al-Nusra aka Al-Nusra Front, and 3 or 4 other similar groups.[6] In contrast with AaS, completely opposed to working with groups with ideological differences, and has in the past bragged about killing Shi'ite or Alawi women and children, while AaS denied claims that they had done so.[4]
    • AaS and HTS have a tenuous relationship, but in general have worked together and are not hostile.[6] Update: now they hate each other again and HTS has been steamrolling AaShrar
    • Some have claimed[6.1] that as early as 2013, there were mass defections from FSA to Nusra and other groups, but that rebels tried to stay associated with the FSA moniker to continue to receive US support.
    • Euphrates Shield/Turkey (ES): Turkey launched its military intervention in the Syrian Civil War in August 2016. ES is made up of many groups, mostly under the FSA moniker, and operates only in the small zone of Syria north of Aleppo which is occupied by Turkey. Hostile to both the government and Kurdish-aligned forces.[4] Turkey, a US ally, has strained its relationship with the US by attacking US-backed SDF forces, and with Russia by attacking the regime.
    • Source [4] lists other, minor rebel groups.
    Kurdish/Kurdish-Aligned rebels:
    • Democratic Union Party (PYD): Left-wing Kurdish party in Northern Syria. Subscribes to the ideology of Democratic Confederalism, a libertarian socialist (anarchist) political ideology created by Murray Bookchin.[7] Democratic Confederalism, or "Communalism," holds important values of democratic socialism, gender equality, and sustainability.[8] The dominant political party in Rojava.[7]
    • Rojava, or Western or Syrian Kurdistan, or the Democratic Federal System of Northern Syria: A de-facto autonomous region run by and controlled by the PYD in northern Syria, along the Turkish and Iraqi borders. Not recognized as a legitimate government by any important entity. Has no desire to conquer the entire state of Syria, but sees its constitution as a possible model for a federated Syria in the future. While mostly Kurdish, Rojava is also populated with Arab, Assyrian, Turkmen, and many other ethnicities. Its constitution attempts to allow those groups self-determination.[8]
    • Peoples Protection Units (YPG): The military wing of the PYD. Mostly Kurdish, but also includes Arabs, Assyrians, and foreign volunteers. Primarily fights against ISIS, but has fought against rebels in the past, and very rarely and very early on against government-aligned forces. Receives substantial air support, and as of recently ground support in the form of special forces units, from the United States and the anti-ISIS coalition it leads. Also receives a fairly significant amount of support from Russia. The dominant faction in the Syrian Democratic Forces.[9]
    • Women's Protection Units (YPJ): The PYD's women's militias.[9]
    • Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF): Formed by the YPG, the SDF is a broad multi-ethnic and multi-religious alliance of ethnic militias formed mostly within Rojavan territory. Their goal is to form a secular, democratic Syrian state along the lines of the Rojavan constitution, but is not currently hostile to the government of Syria. Fights ISIS mostly, but also various Jihadi rebel groups.[10]
    • Kurdistan Worker's Party (PKK): Left-wing Kurdish party operating primarily in Turkey. Has been engaged in armed struggle against the Turkish government for Kurdish independence from Turkey since the 1980s. Formerly a Marxist-Leninist group, now follows the same Communalist ideology as the PYD. This switch was prompted by the group's leader, Abdullah Öcalan, abandoning Marxism-Leninism for Bookchin's communalism. Öcalan inspires the PYD as well. Designated a terrorist group by the US and many of its allies, but not by the UN.[11] Because of this designation, the PYD distances itself from the PKK, but they are sister organizations.[12]
    • Islamic State, or Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, or Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or Da'esh (ISIS): Well, ISIS. Formerly Al-Qaeda in Iraq, and many other things over the years, they split from Al Qaeda in 2014 after invading Syria from Iraq. ISIS' leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, then declared himself Caliph of a world Caliphate, which further alienated virtually all other groups, including other Salafi-Jihadi groups. ISIS is of course considered a terrorist group by almost all nations and the UN, though there have been many, many accusations of it receiving support from the likes of Saudi Arabia and Qatar. Has no allies in Syria, is hostile towards virtually all other operating groups in the country.[13]

    *See this comment for some information on the distinction between Islamism, Salafism, and Jihadism.

    Current (4/9/17) map of Syria by who controls what, from syriancivilwarmap.com:
    Red = Regime, Green = Rebels, Blue = Euphrates Shield, Yellow = SDF, Black = ISIS
  2. Leftandleaving

    wow! Supporter

    Wharf rat...thank you

    For real tho
    Wharf Rat likes this.
  3. Wharf Rat Apr 9, 2017
    (Last edited: Apr 9, 2017)
    Wharf Rat

    alligator runnin round my door Prestigious

    If you're looking for a long ass read about the internal politics of a particular rebel enclave, The Eastern Ghouta, which has so far been the most successful "state-building" exercise in Syria by a rebel group, this article fucking kills it. Really good read and some absolutely incredible research gone into it. Not an intro read by any means but not unreadable. Also goes into the history of Damascus in general. Highly Rec.

    Into the Tunnels
  4. Wharf Rat

    alligator runnin round my door Prestigious

  5. armistice

    Captain Vietnam: Bestower of Tumors

    Can't have cruise missiles without sanctions. Military terrorism gets pouty when it goes too long without seeing economic terrorism.
  6. dadbolt

    the sun is yellow and the ground is moving Supporter

    @Wharf Rat thanks for all the write-ups you've done on this. They've helped my understanding of the various conflicts at play immensely.
    Robk, Wharf Rat and iCarly Rae Jepsen like this.
  7. Wharf Rat

    alligator runnin round my door Prestigious

    It's not my work! At most I've compiled, but I'm glad its helped
    dadbolt likes this.
  8. Wharf Rat

    alligator runnin round my door Prestigious

    SDF has surrounded Taqba, near Raqqa, now. Taqba is a big city in itself and how much time and manpower it takes could influence the eventually attacking of Raqqa.
    dadbolt likes this.
  9. ellie117

    south jersey. Supporter

    Hello. I am far too ignorant on this topic. Subbing to thread to lurk, won't contribute much because it's such a complicated situation. Thanks for all your input, and for having me.
    Wharf Rat likes this.
  10. Wharf Rat

    alligator runnin round my door Prestigious

  11. Wharf Rat

    alligator runnin round my door Prestigious

  12. David87

    Trusted Prestigious


    Who are the SRG? Is that Kurdish/Kurdish aligned fighters?
  13. Wharf Rat

    alligator runnin round my door Prestigious

    David87 likes this.
  14. Dominick

    Prestigious Supporter

    "The bombing in Syria is not a significant departure from existing policy. That is because Trump's policy is the one left by the Obama administration. When he came to office, bragging that he had a great plan to destroy ISIS, what he meant was that he would tax the generals with producing one, and would support it. The plan they gave him, within his 30 day deadline, was one devised by the previous administration, and included a number of lines of escalation and expansion within the terms of the existing strategy.

    That strategy, with regard to Daesh, can be summarised as: medium footprint, with aerial bombardment supporting local auxiliary forces. In relation to Syria, the Obama policy was what the 'Realists' of the Pentagon would call offshore balancing. In this context, it means supporting the weaker side just enough to prevent it from collapsing, thus allowing both sides to bleed one another to death. It also means, of course, tolerating Russian support for the regime, which may be the only thing keeping it alive. And in the context of the rise of Daesh as a parasitic factor on the military stalemate, it means a de facto military alliance with Russia, a multilateral bombing campaign targeting Daesh (and also Jaish al-Nusra). Thus, the Syrian revolution has been drowned in blood and reduced to brutal struggle for survival led by reactionaries, but Assad's army has also been decimated, and is almost entirely dependent on outside forces. Trump hasn't broken with either, thus far.

    The only major difference is that Trump has relaxed the fairly exacting political oversight exercised by the Obama administration on the military's actions. He has loosened constraints on targeting, which were already abysmal, with the recent major bloodshed in Al-Yakla, Mosul and Raqqa being notable byproducts. He has expanded the war along lines indicated by his predecessor, in Somalia and Yemen, and has changed the rules of engagement so that parts of these countries are deemed 'war zones' which can be targeted under the laws of war."

    LENIN'S TOMB: The multilateral bombing of Syria
    Wharf Rat likes this.
  15. Wharf Rat

    alligator runnin round my door Prestigious


    The red arrow from Aleppo is (roughly) what was just announced. The arrows in Hama, Damascus, Daraa and Palmyra (not labelled, Palmyra is where the red has jutted into the black) are ongoing offensives. The lines w/o arrows are the presumed next steps.

    So, the government is launching the westward offensive from Aleppo to weaken the rebels in Idlib while they have the chance. They're already attacking the same enclave from the south, as you can see. They're not as worried about the line between Aleppo and Taqba (Taqba is within the encircled yellow) because the US has closed off the road between there and Aleppo, so they can take that area slowly as a lesser priority without worrying about an ISIS offensive. Essentially, Aleppo has become more or less safe from the east, so they are advancing against rebels to the west.

    The offensive from Palmyra isn't heavily manned, but they are moving slowly through the desert to capture some strategic points in the area. They probably are hoping to have the offensive in northern Hama done as quickly as possible so they can relocate some of those troops to Palmyra, and attempt to link up with government forces in Deir ez-Zor, or DeZ, an important strategic position the government has been sieging for quite some time. Its disconnected from everything else, as you can see, so relieving it is important. Putting pressure on the rebels from the Aleppo side should help the Hama offensive finish quicker so they can then go do that. After that, they will probably want to advance toward the Iraqi border, which will be important strategic position not just for the obvious reasons but also because there's oil fields there. (Also, that would be the regime's only presence in that part of Syria, which is important.)

    ISIS is essentially collapsing, and the government is gearing up to land grab. The offensive from Aleppo might help the Hama soldiers finish up quicker, so they can quickly relocate to Palmyra and launch a bigger offensive toward DeZ and eventually the Iraqi border.

    [Stolen From]
    David87 likes this.
  16. aranea

    Trusted Prestigious

    hope this is ok to post - it's relevant to how media is reacting to this:
  17. aranea

    Trusted Prestigious

  18. Wharf Rat

    alligator runnin round my door Prestigious

    Assad/Putin have now claimed that the attack didn't happen at all, that it was a false flag by Nusra, and that the SyAAF accidentally bombed a facility the rebels were using. The idiots should stick to one story. No good guys in this conflict, even fewer smart guys
  19. Wharf Rat

    alligator runnin round my door Prestigious

    armistice and lightning13 like this.
  20. Wharf Rat

    alligator runnin round my door Prestigious

    US/SDF have taken districts within Taqba city. They're making moves quite quickly now
    armistice and Dominick like this.
  21. armistice

    Captain Vietnam: Bestower of Tumors

    Seeing claims that they were luring the children to the bus with food. Also I think the consensus is a Nusra affiliate being responsible.

    edit: also there's a more recent update that says 100+ killed and 55 wounded, but the pictures in that tweet are really, really horrible. TW if you're going to look through his feed.
    Dominick likes this.
  22. Wharf Rat

    alligator runnin round my door Prestigious

    Looks like Turkish backed rebels are starting to attack SDF and government positions along the border. Erdogan is emboldened I guess
    Dominick likes this.
  23. armistice

    Captain Vietnam: Bestower of Tumors

    right, because he would definitely repeat (if the first one was him) something that resulted in an airstrike which the western media ate up and got white dudes quoting fuckin Cohen.
  24. Wharf Rat

    alligator runnin round my door Prestigious

    Weird, haven't heard that anywhere else
  25. armistice

    Captain Vietnam: Bestower of Tumors