Building peace in Syria as difficult as ending war – analyst

The war in Syria remains unmanageable and peace unattainable, due to the involvement of a large number of outside participants and the different versions of the war being fought, wrote Ora Szekely, associate professor at Clark University’s department of political science.

Each of the groups involved in the conflict, including President Bashar Assad’s government, the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD), Islamic State (ISIS) and the constantly shifting array of armed groups comprising “the opposition”, have their own objectives, Szekely wrote in news and analysis site, the Conversation.

The conflict, which is now in its ninth year, has been devastating for the Syrian people with an estimated 380,000 killed, including more than 115,000 civilians, according to war monitor the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. 

Nearly half the country’s pre-war population has been displaced with almost a million people fleeing toward the now-sealed Turkish border due to an offensive by Russian-backed Syrian government forces on the country’s last rebel-held province of Idlib.

What appears as a single war, Szekely wrote, is in fact a collection of subconflicts, wherein “ the Kurds and the Islamic State group were (and are) fighting to carve out entirely new territories with new boundaries and new forms of government.”

The infighting and complexity of the conflict threatens any settlement that fails to satisfy all the parties involved, thereby leaving them with an incentive to keep fighting, the article said.

The emergence of the deadly coronavirus, which has brought the world a standstill, also looms as another threat over Syria, Szekely said.

COVID-19 “poses a devastating threat to the displacement camps jammed with people fleeing the conflict, who have no opportunity to practice social distancing – or even wash their hands,” the article said.

As of Monday, Syria confirmed 10 cases of the deadly coronavirus, which is just the tip of the iceberg, according to U.N. humanitarian chief Mark Lowcock.

Efforts to prevent and combat the virus are impeded by Syria’s fragile healthcare system and high levels of population movement, Lowcock said on Monday.