One of the most notable conflicts in the Middle East in recent times is the Syrian civil war. As with many such internal rifts, there is not one identifiable cause but rather multiple, integrated factors that have contributed to this conflict. To understand how such a war has come about, it is important to appreciate a handful of the primary contributing causes.
The Arab Spring
Perhaps the most pertinent factor is the Arab Spring revolutions that have occurred throughout the region in the last three years. Many see the Syrian civil war as resulting from the brutal dictatorial leadership of president Bashar al-Assad. When his regime took power in 2000, there was little room for minority or political dissent. This set the stage for social frustration.
A Crippled Economy
As with most uprisings, the Syrian civil war is also due largely in part to economic discontent. Privatisation has always favoured families and businesses with personal ties to al-Assad. Thus, this conflict has also been caused by a disenfranchised and discontent lower middle class.
Syria has been experiencing one of the worst droughts in recent memory. This has caused tens of thousands of farmers to flock into urban areas in search of work. Their anger at a lack of government intervention and aid has further fueled the Syrian civil war. It’s also called the Syrian Uprising.
As with most repressive regimes, the Syrian government used a secret police force to regularly patrol and even terrorise those that they feel are not loyal to the al-Assad regime. The result was a growing discontent by the people themselves. As word of such violence spread in the wake of the Arab Spring, the masses began to revolt in protest and indignation.
The introduction of foreign fighters, like the Hezbollah, from such states as Iran and Lebanon has further incensed the already high tensions. As these fighters are currently to be found on both sides, the damage they have caused further hampers any efforts to bring the Syrian civil war to the negotiating table.
Another key factor that served to birth the Syrian civil war is the fact that a growing number of youths now have access to mainstream social media sites. The result is that dissidents are more readily able to communicate with one another and news broadcasts from the outside world (as opposed to state-sponsored Syrian television) have shed light on the situation.
To review, some of the main causes of the ongoing Syrian civil war are:
- Economic downturn.
- State-sponsored violence.
- External fighters such as those from Hezbollah.
- Access to social media.