The Real Syrian Enemy

By RASHI NARAYAN

Syria has been a hot topic in the news for numerous years as Assad and ISIS have created atrocities in the area. However, people seem to have forgotten that the Assad regime is still an evil destructive entity that is the root of the instability and extremism in the region. People have been caught up with the attention catching vulgarity of ISIS. Despite this, Assad’s regime has been murdering civilians on a daily basis and aiding in the instability in the region, which leads to the popularity and strength of the strong extremist groups. The real problem in Syria is the lack a stable and humane regime, which provides services to the people.

In March 2013, the Islamic State was founded as a terrorist organization to help recreate a Muslim caliphate. Taking root in Syria’s power vacuum, the organization quickly gained momentum—taking over Raqqa, Mosul, and even coming closing to taking Baghdad. The group has wreaked havoc on the area. They have enslaved and raped the women they captured and have a penchant for brutally murdering innocent civilians.  In the past two years, the Islamic State has carried out numerous terrorist attacks. The group has garnered support from all over the world with allegiances from Nigeria, Libya, and Afghanistan. Even American and European citizens are flocking to the call of jihad. This trend of Westerners leaving their lives to become jihadists has sparked concerns that ISIS is still growing and strong. However, this is not the case and ISIS is nowhere close to being the biggest threat in the region.

First and foremost, ISIS is not as strong as the public has perceived it to be. According the Department of Defense, the United States has spent over $1 billion on air strikes and attacks in order to combat the terrorist organization. Additionally, the Kurdish military forces have also been working to defend themselves, and OPEC has sacrificed vast sums of money keeping oil prices low in order to combat potential profits from ISIS’s illicit supply. These efforts have not been unsuccessful. According to reports, the Kurdish fighters have pushed ISIS back once more and the organization has lost a quarter of the territory it held at its peak. The organization has lost as much as 75 percent of its profits and seems to be on the decline.

In the 4 years of the Syrian conflict, over 206,603 people have died, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. This number includes the over 76,000 people who died in 2014 alone. The Syrian Network for Human Rights documented around 1,232 in December 2014, with 1,049 civilians killed by regime forces. ISIS was only responsible for 5 percent of deaths. While ISIS publicizes their mass killings, the Assad regime is silently striking and wreaking havoc on its citizens. Obviously, ISIS is still a threat, but it pales in comparison to the Assad regime. Moreover, the civil war in Syria has created a power vacuum where extremist organizations are able to set up shop and grow. Without any stable regime in the area, the country remain the perfect breeding ground for extremist organizations.

In the growing violence, there needs to be a way to save the Syrian citizens and protect them from their own government as well as the terrorist organizations. The best solution would have been an intervention before the area and the rebel groups had fractured and radicalized. At this point in the conflict, there are few options in stabilizing the region. The efforts to weaken and dismantle ISIS should continue, but there need to be increased pressures on the Assad regime to stop killing citizens and institute reforms. Only when there is a stable government—who doesn’t kill citizens—will the extremist groups die out.

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