Internationalism of the Syrian conflict, Syrianizing the world
“When our uprising started we chanted (Syria is for All) meaning that it’s for all Syrians, but it became for all the people around the globe! Mostly the bad ones too, they misunderstood us” Ahed Festuk told me, she is a 28 years old pioneer activist who has been working in rebel held side of Aleppo city for more than 5 years.
There is no accurate statistics about the number of foreign fighters who invaded Syria in the last 6 years, the assessments though are more than 50 thousands total, fighting on all sides.
Yazan, an activist from Edlib wrote on his Facebook page recently:
“6 years ago, if I found a foreigner visiting my town I would have taken a picture with him as a souvenir! Now foreigners are the ones who should be taking pictures with me because I am the only Syrian in my neighbor!”,
Yazan lives in a neighbor that is mostly inhabitants by the international jihadists and their families.
It is estimated that between 27,000 and 31,000 foreign fighters have been flocking to Iraq and Syria since the uprising started in 2011.
Data provided by the Soufan Group in 2014 expected that the identifiable number of foreign fighters was approximately 12,000 from 81 countries.
As the boarder between the troubled countries have been removed it’s difficult to tell how they are being distributed between the two.
Still, in Syria, most of those joined ISIL and are living with their families in its territories in eastern Syria and northern suburb of Aleppo.
But those are not the only newcomers storming Syria; the regime allies’ militias are mostly foreigners too.
A head of one of the rebel groups told me last year after their battle against the regime in Retian in northern Aleppo: “To call what is going on in Syria a civil war, aren’t we supposed to be fighting other fellow Syrians? Well, in this battle only, we have captured 10 fighters attacking our city! None of them was Syrian! They are Afghan refugees in Iran and Lebanese fighters.
New research conducted by Vincent Beshara and Cody Roche concluded that: 53 foreign militias are fighting on the regime side, mostly Shiite, Iran on its own commands a force of around 25,000 Shi’ite Muslim militants in Syria, mostly made up of recruits from Afghanistan and Pakistan.
While 61% of Syria’s population ran away from their war-torn homes, thousand immigrated to theirs from Iran, Pakistan, Golf States, Iraq, Russia, Chechen, Turkistan, Afghanistan, Lebanon, Turkey, Jordan, Tunisia, Europe, United States and United Kingdom.
Syria hasn’t had that verity of nationalities in its peak tourism seasons. It’s regular news now to report that some US soldiers have been killed while doing their “consultancy” work in the Kurdish areas in northern Syria, or see videos of Turkish flag and soldiers as well in other rebel held areas in their operation “Euphrates Shied”.
In Syria now there are tens of one-nationality militias that don’t allow Syrians to join and are using their own flags, leaders, territories and bases.
In these closed multi-international communities, nothing is being exchanged by hatred and isolations.
There are too many conquerors now, that Syrians can’t keep up with their languages and cultures, and they can hardly coordinate and follow a central leadership.
Suddenly we started getting our local news from Russian media and agencies, the Russian defense minister is declaring the details of how Aleppo forced-evacuation deal is happening, the president of Russia is speaking on behalf of the Syrian army and state, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Commander Qassem Soleimani is a sample of victory of the Syrian Arab Army.
“I passed the Russian checkpoint, in front of me is the bad Lebanese Shiites’ one then the Iranians, both are moody and not respecting the deal, so I am still terrified” Ola, an activist from Aleppo, wrote to her sister when she was in one of the buses being evacuated out of their home in Aleppo city to the suburb in Dec. 2016.
Despite reaching an agreement with the Russians, Iranian and Lebanese militias had attacked the first convoy trying to leave the city and halted the process for couple of days until applying their own conditions.
Russia, the grantor of the deal, has even announced that they’ll be firing back on any source targeting the convoys, and they were live streaming the process with their drones.
We, the ones who lived in rebel held areas, without a state or a united authority among chaotic armed groups, know very well, that being unified for one goal is not an enough reason for unity. Defeating opposition has aggregated them, but after taking the lands back, what would do?
During the truces when the regime’s troops reduced its attacks on the opposition held areas, it was a must that we’ll be witnessing internal fights between armed groups. Then as small dispute as checking the car of another armed person could turn into a fierce street fight leaving casualties.
The Syrian black hummer didn’t only stimulate what turned into international local troubles in their ground, but also their national sky, that has been turned into a crowded high way.
“Ok guys, it’s time now to have a dedicated traffic officer in the Syrian sky to organize the movement of the fight jets hanging out up there”, a post shared by activists after Turkey’s downing of Russian warplane in Nov. 2015.
In another common joke shared by Syrians mainly coming from the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant occupied territories, is “If Theresa May had a fight with her neighbor, British force will bomb Syria, if Holland’s wife broke up with him, French air force will defiantly bomb Syria as a revenge, so please pray for nothing to go wrong with any powerful ones that have an air-force so they won’t take it on us”.
Syria didn’t only become the land of the international complications; Syrians carried away these tribulations to the rest of the world too.
According to the United Nation High Commissioner for Refugees UNHCR 4.8 million Syrians have fled to Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt and Iraq, about one million have requested asylum to Europe.
Germany, with more than 300,000 cumulated applications, and Sweden with 100,000, are EU’s top receiving countries.
This number excluding all the family-reunion applications that allow the minor, one parent to bring the rest of his/her family to join them there.
The worst humanitarian crisis of our time has contributed to the raise of extremism from all parts in the world, we are rarely being left out of any western Parliamentary discussions, Syria is also there in all elections’ debates, it’s being used by the left and the right parties to frightened the others who are not supporting them.
Some analysts even referred to our crisis as the reason behind the Brexit, Russian raising international power.
“We have wrecked the world” I wrote after the Brexit referendum, and a British friend of mind replied “This is how I would define our Karma for leaving Syrians to suffer alone for 6 years, being killed in all kind of internationally forbidden weapons, breaking every single decree in the international human law, we Europeans are paying the price”.
This article is written in Jan 2017 for
And published in April