More than two years into Syria’s deadly war, the geopolitical game is in full swing with players from the region and the West hustling to secure their interests in Syria and the greater Middle East.
In its latest move, long-time political ally - Iran, has further extended its economic aid to the Syrian Regime by finalizing a $3.6 billion credit line that will facilitate Syria with the import of oil. This helping hand is crucial for the strength and survival of the Syrian government in the war against rebels because the country is reportedly short of fuel for its army as well as the economy.
But economic aid is not the only support Iran has been extending to Assad. Frequent reports of western official salleging that Iran has been exporting weapons to Syria, via Iraq, have raised red flags in the international community. While Iran continues to deny violating the U.N. arms embargo, it is clear that it is trying to secure its vital interests in Syria by protecting Assad’s government.
Iran is not the only player in the battle for political power in Syria. The US recently announced its plan to arm Syrian rebels - citing that Assad’s government was using chemical weapons against its citizens - while Russia continues to supply the Syrian regime with military and economic aid.
Lebanon’s Hezbollah is more notably one of the most active of Assad’s regional allies on the ground with militants from the Shiite-guerrilla organization violently engaging with Syrian rebels. Hezbollah, which is now an official political organization in Lebanon, was originally set up by Iran in the 1980s to fight Israeli forces in Southern Lebanon.
The list of geopolitical players goes on with China, Jordan, Iraq, Libya, Qatar and Saudia Arabia all playing a role in fueling the conflict in one way or the other. But to what end?
The violence on the ground continues to take Syrian lives while destroying the lives of those who survive. The UN has announced that the death toll has reached 100, 000 and the conflict has lead to the worst refugee crisis the world has seen in two decades.
How can Syrians work towards peace when the powers controlling the battle go beyond their borders?