The Syrian Civil War: By now we are all familiar with the term, but how much to we really know? First, there are the mind-numbing statistics: since the war first began in March 2011, as part of the ‘Arab Spring,’ 250,000 people have been killed, 7.6 million have been internally displaced (40% of the population), and another 4.4 million have registered as refugees outside of Syria. While Angela Merkel and Germany receive attention (and applause) for taking in 1.1 million migrants (not all are refugees from Syria), Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, and even Iraq, have 3.6 million UN-registered Syrian refugees.
Then there are peace talks in Geneva. Oh, good, we think, perhaps this wretched situation may be winding down.
Not so fast. Let’s take a closer look.
First, it has long ceased to be a ‘Syrian Civil War,’ because as you will see below, it has become a regional war.
Syria Rebels: The Syrian civil war first began when peaceful protesters in the southern Syrian city of Duraa were brutally suppressed by the Baathist Party (a strange combination of socialism, fascism, and Arab nationalism) al Assad regime. Having overcome their fear of al Assad’s police state, the people fought back by various rebel groups.
The goal of the Syrian Rebels: Get rid of the al Assad dynasty, which has been ruling Syria since 1970. Here is the ‘civil war’ stage.
Sunni nations step in: After this, the waters got muddied. Though most Syrians are Sunni Muslim, the al Assad regime is Alawite, an offshoot of Shia Islam. This is one of the reasons the regime aligned with the Shia-power, Iran. Sunni Muslim regimes like Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar, decided to get involved by funding Sunni rebel groups.
The goal of the Sunni nations: Get rid of al Assad and install a Sunni regime. The result is that the ‘civil war’ is now a ‘regional conflict.’
Assad’s Allies Respond: Remember Newton’s law? For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction? Al Assad’s allies - Iran, Russia, and the Shia-militia Hizballah in Lebanon, watched these events with alarm and decided to support the Syrian government forces. Hizballah went one step further and got involved militarily, fighting along side Assad’s troops.
The goal of al Assad’s allies: Preserve the status quo by keeping him in power.
Terrorist haven: The chaos in Syria has been a fertile field for terrorist groups to extend their tentacles. This includes al Nusra-Front, the al Qaeda affiliate in Syria, and the so-called Islamic State, an offshoot of al Qaeda, which was expelled by the latter in February 2014 for being ‘too brutal.’ Both groups occupy Syrian territory, including the archaeological site of Palmyra, and even territory close to Damascus.
What does it all mean? What started off as a rebellion against the al-Assad regime has turned into a regional conflict and a proxy war between Sunnis and Shia. The terrorist occupation of part of Syria further complicates an already complex and combustable situation.
The Syrian civil war is arguably the worse conflict and humanitarian crisis since the end of the Second World War in 1945. It’s potential for morphing from a regional conflict to a world war is greater than anything we have seen until now.
Enter the Russians: Westerners may not realise that Russia has had a long-term interest in the Middle East. Some of it is geo-political and some of it theological - Mother Russia wants to save the world. Russian pilgrims have been trekking to the holy land for decades, where they had their own compound in Jerusalem, complete with hospice, cathedral, and even hospital. In 2015, Russia became militarily involved by firing rockets into Syria. Iran, newly-freed from sanctions imposed because of its nuclear program, is playing ‘catch-up’ in terms of business deals, weapons acquisition, and exerting influence in the region.
Along with the Hizballah militia, the balance of power is changing in favour of al-Assad and the Syrian government. There is a real chance that they can retake Syria’s largest city, Aleppo, and this would help wind down the war.
Sunni Invasion: Turkey, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia view the potential of al-Assad’s survival with great dismay. Russia, Iran, and Hizballah are changing the game and they must not be allowed to succeed.
The solution? An ground invasion of Syria by a Sunni coalition. According to an article by Michael Snyder, the largest military exercise in the history of the ‘war-torn’ Middle East is being planned. The statistics are staggering: a coalition of Turkey, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Jordan, Bahrain, Sudan, Kuwait, Morocco, Pakistan, Oman, Qatar, Tunisia (even Malaysia), will contribute 350,000 soldiers, 20,000 tanks, 2,450 planes, and 460 helicopters to an 18 day operation called ‘Northern Thunder.’ The goal is to replace al Assad with a Sunni-regime in Syria.
(Michael Synder, ‘World War 3 Could Start This Month: 350,000 Soldiers In Saudi Arabia Stand Ready To Invade Syria’ accessed 20 February 2016). Shockingly, the mainstream media is silent about all this.
The key players are America’s allies and Turkey is a NATO member. US President Barack Obama, who has worked hard to militarily detach the US from the Middle East, and constantly pledged ‘no (American) boots on the ground’ in any conflict, would have to give the nod.
If such a ground invasion of Syria were to occur, it would have to be soon. Would Russia, Iran, and Hizballah stand idly by as their significant gains in Syria come under threat? Would NATO have to get involved to defend its ally Turkey (that’s part of the deal - all NATO members must come to rescue of any member)? Could we be seeing the unthinkable - the beginning of World War III.
On the other hand, Saudi Arabia and some of these other countries have an untested military, Turkey
For all praying people, this is a good time to go to work. And while you’re praying, remember the long-suffering Christian population in Iraq and Syria, who have been the focus of severe persecution by rebel and terrorist groups.
More than nukes and conventional arms, prayer is the greatest weapon of all.
‘Blessed are the peacemakers: For they shall be called the children of God’ — Matthew 5:9