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8 years of war in Syria

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Syrie, le désastre sans fin d’un pays exsangue par huit années de guerre

Editorial. Dévastée humainement et économiquement, la Syrie est méconnaissable. Et Bachar Al-Assad, le dictateur contre lequel une partie de la population s’est insurgée, est toujours là.

Huit ans de guerre et un bilan que l’on ose à peine écrire : la Syrie de 2019 est un pays amputé de près de la moitié de sa population valide. Sur les 21 millions d’habitants qu’elle comptait début 2011, entre 300 000 et 500 000 ont été tués et 1,5 million sont invalides. Quelque 6 millions de personnes ont fui à l’étranger et 6,6 autres millions sont déplacées à l’intérieur du pays, vivant le plus souvent dans des conditions très précaires.

Exsangue humainement, la Syrie l’est aussi économiquement. Elle a perdu les trois quarts de son produit intérieur brut, passé de 60 milliards de dollars (53 milliards d’euros) en 2010 à environ 15 milliards aujourd’hui. Un tiers de ses immeubles et des habitations ont été détruits ou endommagés. Le secteur agricole produit moins qu’il y a trente ans. Trois millions d’enfants ne sont pas scolarisés. La Syrie est méconnaissable.

Aussi terribles soient-ils, les chiffres ne donnent pas toute la mesure du désastre. Car le soulèvement qui a entraîné cette guerre et ses ravages a échoué. Bachar Al-Assad, le dictateur contre lequel une partie de la population s’est insurgée, est toujours là. Son régime s’affaire à consolider le camp loyaliste autour de lui, en s’appuyant sur l’armée qui, contrairement à de nombreuses prédictions, ne s’est pas effondrée. Certains experts décrivent une force en cours de restructuration, sous perfusion russe et iranienne, après avoir perdu la moitié de ses effectifs, mais dont le commandement a tenu bon, permettant l’émergence d’un nouvel ordre militaire et sécuritaire. L’emprise de la communauté alaouite, celle du clan Assad, s’est accrue sur la hiérarchie.

Un bilan diplomatique guère plus brillant

L’opposition est anéantie. La chute d’Alep, en décembre 2016, a brisé son rêve de renverser le régime Assad. Plaque tournante de l’opposition syrienne au plus fort du conflit, la ville turque de Gaziantep, de l’autre côté de la frontière, où vivent 400 000 Syriens, est devenue pour eux une ville fantôme, que désertent peu à peu ONG, consultants et chefs rebelles, à mesure que le régime Assad enchaîne les victoires. Les formations rebelles encore présentes sont passées sous la coupe d’Ankara. La révolution n’est plus qu’un douloureux souvenir.

Le bilan diplomatique n’est guère plus brillant. Usant et abusant de son pouvoir de veto, la Russie a paralysé l’action du Conseil de sécurité de l’ONU sur la Syrie. Si Bachar Al-Assad a survécu, ce n’est grâce ni à ses talents de stratège ni à son assise politique. Son salut, il le doit essentiellement à l’aviation russe, dont l’entrée en scène, à la fin de l’été 2015, a été déterminante, avec l’appui des forces iraniennes au sol. Sous un déluge de bombes, la rébellion a fini par abandonner ses positions après avoir tenu pendant un an. Aujourd’hui, Moscou, Téhéran et, d’une manière plus complexe, Ankara, sont maîtres du jeu.

Les Etats-Unis et l’Europe, pour leur part, ont concentré leur intervention sur la lutte contre l’Etat islamique. Le succès militaire contre le « califat », cependant, ne doit illusionner personne : le combat peut ressurgir à tout moment, sous une autre forme.

Comment envisager la reconstruction, dans ces conditions ? Son coût est estimé entre 200 milliards et 400 milliards de dollars. Ce ne sont ni Moscou ni Téhéran qui rebâtiront les écoles et les hôpitaux. L’absence d’alternative politique n’incite pas les Occidentaux à payer pour conforter Assad, ni les réfugiés à rentrer. Reconstruire le pays est la nouvelle bataille de Syrie.

Le Monde

Civil War in Syria

Civil War in Syria (CFR)

Recent Developments

In December 2018, President Donald J. Trump announced a decision to withdraw the roughly two thousand U.S. troops remaining in Syria. On January 16, 2019, an attack in Manbij claimed by the self-proclaimed Islamic State killed at least nineteen people, including four Americans. Prior to that attack, only two Americans had been killed in action in Syria since the U.S.-led campaign began. The U.S.-led international coalition continues to carry out military strikes against the Islamic State and provides support to the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and internal security forces.

The pullout of U.S. troops has increased uncertainty around the role of other external parties to the conflict—including Iran, Israel, Russia, and Turkey—as well as the future of internal actors.

Background

What began as protests against President Assad’s regime in 2011 quickly escalated into a full-scale war between the Syrian government—backed by Russia and Iran—and anti-government rebel groups—backed by the United States, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and others in the region. Three campaigns drive the conflict: coalition efforts to defeat the Islamic State, violence between the Syrian government and opposition forces, and military operations against Syrian Kurds by Turkish forces.

The Islamic State began seizing control of territory in Syria in 2013. After a series of terrorist attacks coordinated by the Islamic State across Europe in 2015, the United States, the United Kingdom, and France—with the support of Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and other Arab partners—expanded their air campaign in Iraq to include Syria. Together, these nations have conducted over eleven thousand air strikes against Islamic State targets in Syria, while the U.S.-led coalition has continued its support for ground operations by the SDF. Turkish troops have been involved in ground operations against the Islamic State since 2016, and have launched attacks against armed Kurdish groups in Syria.

Meanwhile, at the request of the Syrian government in September 2015, Russia began launching air strikes against what it claimed were Islamic State targets, while Syrian government forces achieved several notable victories over the Islamic State, including the reclamation of Palmyra. According to the U.S.-led coalition against the Islamic State, 98 percent of the territory formerly held by the group in Iraq and Syria, including Raqqa and Deir al-Zour, has been reclaimed by Iraqi security forces and the SDF.

With Russian and Iranian support, the Syrian government has steadily regained control of territory from opposition forces, including the opposition’s stronghold in Aleppo in 2016. The regime has been accused of using chemical weapons numerous times over the course of the conflict, resulting in international condemnation in 20132017, and 2018. Opposition forces have maintained limited control in Idlib, in northwestern Syria, and on the Iraq-Syria border.

…MORE

W460

via Naharnet

Eight years of war in Syria have left more than 370,000 people dead including 112,000 civilians, a monitor said Friday.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which has a network of sources across the country, said more than 21,000 children and 13,000 women were among the dead.

The conflict flared after unprecedented anti-government protests in the southern city of Daraa on March 15, 2011.

Demonstrations spread across Syria and were brutally suppressed by the regime, triggering a multi-front armed conflict that has drawn in foreign powers and militant groups.

The Britain-based Observatory’s last casualty toll on the Syrian conflict, issued in September, stood at more than 360,000 dead.

Over 125,000 Syrian government soldiers and pro-regime fighters figured in the latest toll, the monitoring group said.

It said other fighters, including rebels and Kurds, accounted for 67,000 of those killed.

Almost 66,000 were jihadists, mainly from the Islamist State (IS) group and Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), dominated by Al-Qaeda’s former affiliate in Syria.

The devastating conflict has displaced or sent into exile around 13 million Syrians, causing billions of dollars-worth of destruction.

With the support of powerful allies Russia and Iran, President Bashar al-Assad has won his war for political survival but his country is fractured and cash-strapped.

Having reversed rebel gains with a massive Russian intervention, Assad now controls almost two-thirds of Syria’s territory.

But key areas remain beyond regime control, including a swathe of the oil-rich northeast held by Kurdish-led fighters.

Washington backs the Syrian Democratic Forces, which are spearheading an anti-IS campaign, which is drawing to a close near the Iraqi border.

Idlib in northwestern Syria, held by HTS, is protected by a ceasefire deal between Ankara and Moscow which has seen Turkish troops deployed to the area.

Syria’s conflict is estimated to have set its economy back three decades, destroying infrastructure and paralysing the production of electricity and oil.

Assad, however, has regained control of key commercial arteries and started a tentative comeback on the Arab diplomatic scene.

Several countries have called for Syria to be reintegrated into the Arab League, from which it was suspended as the death toll from the uprising mounted in 2011.

photo Credit: AP Images

After more than seven years of civil war that gutted Syria, the endgame is here. But there are more questions than ever. What does victory on President Bashar al-Assad’s brutal terms look like? How has the rise and fall of the Islamic State changed Syria’s political map? And what about reconstruction, let alone reconciliation?
Over 80 percent of the population is living below the poverty line in Syria and over two million children are out of school. Surviving the war was only chapter 1 for Syrian families. Now they must rebuild their lives. Photo: Dania Kareh/Oxfam
Over 80 percent of the population is living below the poverty line in Syria and over two million children are out of school. Surviving the war was only chapter 1 for Syrian families. Now they must rebuild their lives. Photo: Dania Kareh/Oxfam
The crisis in Syria continues to cause tremendous human suffering to people both inside and outside the country. The conflict is driving the largest refugee crisis in the world. Nearly 12 million people – 2 in 3 Syrians – are still dependent on humanitarian aid. They need your help.
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