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A guide to factions of the Syria conflict: 2018

Updated: Sep 11, 2018

By SETH J. FRANTZMAN


As the Syrian conflict moves into its seventh year, a new guide to the factions in the conflict this year and different issues facing them, as well as their roots and origins.


The Syrian civil war is often characterized a complex conflict with so many sides and players that it is impossible to understand who is who. This cliché clouds our understanding of a conflict that, at its heart, is not that complex. In 2011, it began as an outgrowth of the Arab Spring with a populist, mostly Sunni Arab, uprising against the ruling dictator, Bashar Assad. Since then it has gone through several phases of greater foreign involvement.

Like the Thirty Years War that rocked Europe in the 17th century, the foreign involvement has transformed the region. The war can be divided into several phases that blend together: A phase of protest in 2011. A phase of armed rebellion in 2012. A phase of brutal regime suppression, including chemical weapons attacks in 2013. The rise of Islamic State and the greater Islamification of the rebellion in 2014. The intervention of Russia in 2015. The intervention of the United States and Turkey in 2016. The defeat of ISIS in 2017.


So what does 2018 hold? The slow consolidation of regime gains. The defeat of the Syrian rebels and their becoming clients of Turkey and Jordan. The cementing of the US presence in the east. The occupation of Afrin by Turkey and some of the Kurds being forced to seek a deal with the regime.


Read the full piece at The Jerusalem Post

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