*MAJOR* Security Council Update!

By: Victor Frunza

Security Council Update

In the past few weeks, the Situation in South Sudan has changed dramatically. Peace talks have begun, and some portions of the ceasefire have been introduced successfully. The rebel leader, Manchar, will be reinstated as Vice President, and a new security situation has been established with the support of IGAD and the AU. Problems and barriers still exist, but the Conflict in South Sudan may be entering a new phase, a phase that the Security Council may be taking a less involved role in. Because of this, we have decided to change our Security Council topic.

INTRODUCING ... The Situation in Syria!

In 2011 during the Arab Spring, protests started in Syria against the dictator Bashar al-Assad. These protests quickly escalated into a full civil war after the government opened fire on protesters to quell the unrest. Syria, backed by Iran and Russia, began a brutal campaign against the rebels. Rebels in turn, where backed by Saudi Arabia and the United States, among others.

The power vacuum left in Syria by the civil war allowed for the establishment of ISIL (or ISIS), a terrorist branch related to al-Qaeda. Almost all factions in Syria deemed this group a terrorist group and began fighting them immediately. Starting in 2017, they slowly started to lose territory and influence in the region.

In the same power vacuum, the Kurds, an ethnic group in the region, began seizing territory in northeastern Syria and have started a new democratic state, Rojava. They have been allied with the US to combat ISIS.

The initial years of the war were marked by a massive outpouring of refugees into surrounding countries. Currently, 5.6 million refugees have left Syria while another 6.5 million are internally displaced.

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Attempts at peace talks have been made and most have failed. The Assad regime refuses to allow ceasefires, claiming that they will allow his enemies to regroup. In 2017, Russian-led peace talks were quickly violated when Assad restarted his attack on rebel positions.

The US and their coalition have retaliated against chemical weapons use twice; once in 2017, and again in 2018 by striking Syrian government military installations with long-range missiles. They have also continued to support the PYD (the Kurds) with arms and training. Turkey has invaded Syria in an attempt to destroy the PYD.

Iran has moved into Syria. Reports show that in as of late 2017, Iran was building military bases in Syria and had sent in 8,000 Hezbollah fighters and 30,000 other troops. Israel has viewed this as an attempted Iranian foothold near its border and has launched bombing runs and missiles to destroy Iranian infrastructure and personnel in Syria. Iran retaliated by sending 20 missiles into the Golan Heights. In response, Israel sent missiles at “dozens of targets inside Syria”. They have since been using chaos in the region to attack their enemies in Syria.

Looking Forward

Peace talks have yet to be successful, with most parties having major distrust towards each other. The US and Russia have been at odds diplomatically and have attempted to stay out of each other’s way rather than negotiate or work together.

US-Iran relations have also been strained due to Trump's cancellation of the JCPOA (the Iran Deal) that prevented Iran from developing nuclear weapons in exchange for reduced sanctions. It is unknown how Iran will respond over the long term. However, the missile exchange between Iran and Israel happened one day after the treaty’s cancellation and has continued since.

The proxy war status of Syria has turned a civil war into an unending conflict where multiple factions fight over control of any bit of territory they can take.

Photo Credit: https://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/interactive/2015/05/syria-country-divided-150529144229467.html

Victor Frunza