Does the UN have its own security forces

The Syrian Civil War and the UN

How did the conflict arise?

The Syrian branch of the pan-Arab, socialist Ba'ath Party has ruled the Syrian Arab Republic since it came to power in 1963. From 1970 Hafiz al-Assad led the country as president after he had prevailed in intra-party power struggles. In 2000 his son Bashar al-Assad took power. Just like his father, he developed a personality cult around himself. The political system in Syria can be classified as autocratic. Civil liberties were and are severely restricted. Nevertheless, like many other autocracies in the Arab world, the country was relatively stable for a long time. That changed in the course of the Arab Spring.

At the end of 2010, people in many Arab countries began to rebel against their autocratic leadership. In some states, the change of power took place relatively peacefully and quickly - also due to the influence of the West. In Syria, however, that was not the case. Here the protests began comparatively late; the first demonstrations for more freedom took place in January and February 2011. As a result, the situation quickly escalated. There were first deaths at gatherings as a result of aggressive attempts to break up by the Syrian security forces. The demonstrators also began to arm themselves - initially for self-defense, soon to push the government back out of areas. In the summer of 2011, deserted soldiers formed the Free Syrian Army (FSA) with the aim of protecting the civilian population from government troops. The opposition are also accused of violating human rights. The confrontation quickly turned into a bloody civil war.

Lines of conflict and actors involved

Various groups emerged from the demonstrators, who joined the armed struggle against the government and soon also among themselves. The most important factions can be roughly grouped according to their ethnic and religious groups. On the part of the government, alongside the regular army, it is mainly Shiite militias, such as the Lebanese Hezbollah, who sympathize with Assad because of his membership of the Shiite Alevite sect. These are in turn supported by Iran, which is waging a proxy war on Syrian territory for supremacy as a regional power against Saudi Arabia. Various Sunni groups are fighting against the government with Saudi support. Sunnis make up the majority of the population in Syria. Among the Sunni groups there are more moderate rebels but also radical groups.

In addition, the so-called Islamic State (IS) succeeded in bringing large parts of Syria under its control in the course of the civil war. The Islamist terrorist organization came into being in Iraq and pursued the goal of establishing a caliphate in the Arab region. In recent years, IS fighters have committed brutal mass murders, torture and other war crimes in Syria and Iraq. The jihadists have now been driven from most of Syria and Iraq by the government army and the international anti-IS coalition led by the USA.

Another group in the civil war are Kurdish fighters. They fought primarily against the Islamic State and received support from Western states. At the same time, however, the Kurdish militias are in conflict with Turkey, which is also part of the western IS alliance. The reason is the Kurds' aspirations for autonomy. Turkey is taking military action against the Kurds in northern Syria. Many observers see this as an attack contrary to international law.

At the international level, the US and its allies mainly support groups fighting ISIS, but they are critical of the Syrian government. Russia, on the other hand, is providing military assistance to the government under President Assad and also advocating the Syrian president's retention of power at the UN level.