While Mosul (Iraq) celebrated Wednesday, July 10, the two years of his liberation from the yoke of the Islamic State (IS), the conflict in Syria is not over yet, after 9 years of clashes and 370,000 deaths.
To try to better understand the current issues of this civil war, we interviewed Agnès Levallois, head of the Arab and Persian world office at the Delegation for Strategic Affairs at the Ministry of Defense.
Today, the EI group has disappeared?
He disappeared as a proto-state entity that had a draft caliphate on Syrian-Iraqi territory since the battle of Baghouz (Syria). This does not mean that the organization has completely disappeared because they remain fighters who have dissolved in nature. Some nuisance operations can be carried out by people who claim them while others can be opportunistically recovered.
The priority now for Iraq is to rebuild the country, restore a state with infrastructure and an army to prevent a phenomenon such as Daech can reappear.
In Syria, the Daesh issue has polluted the perception of the situation. We have forgotten the origins of the Syrian conflict, which was that of a population that rose peacefully against an authoritarian regime. Now that the problem of Daesh is settled, we think that the war is over and we are no longer interested in what is happening in Syria. This is dramatic for the Syrian people who feel abandoned.
Can we say today that Bashar al-Assad won the war in Syria?
I protest against this expression because I think it makes no sense. If you mean to win the fact that he is still in power, yes. But he controls only a part of his territory and he is not able to control all of Syria, still divided into several parts.
On the one hand, there is the party controlled by the Damascus regime, which barely represents two-thirds of Syrian territory. Then there is the area around Idlib that the government is trying to take back from the hands of the rebels without getting there. Then the north of Syria on the border with Turkey which is controlled by the Turkish army. And finally, the entire northeastern part which is under the control of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), that is to say the Kurds.
Exactly, what's going on in Idlib?
Since the end of April, there has been continuous shelling by the regime and the Russians over the enclave of Idlib, in which there are 3 million people. This is the last big rebel pocket in Syria.
Part of these rebels have radicalized to integrate the movement Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, an emanation of al-Qaeda, which serves as an argument to Damascus and the Russians to justify these assaults. Except that in reality, these radicalized fighters are only 15,000 to 20,000 in the region. It is therefore the 3 million inhabitants of the enclave who live in absolutely horrendous conditions and bear the full brunt of the regime's bombings that affect hospitals, schools and public infrastructure.
The population is caught in a mousetrap: those who want to escape this tragedy can not flee to Damascus, the hands of the regime, and they can not go to the north, in Turkey, because it no longer wants open his border. The latter already has at least 3.5 million Syrian refugees on its territory.
The regime of Bashar al-Assad therefore applies the same method as in the former beleaguered areas such as Eastern Ghouta to prove that it is able to quell the insurgency: it bombs the whole day by preventing food and medicine. enter the city until people shout thanks.
But then, what is the role of the Kurds in this conflict?
Kurds have always had a special status in Syria. Before the Revolution, a large part of the community had no papers. When the revolution started in 2011, the regime quickly realized that it was in its interest to prevent the Kurds from joining the revolt movement by proposing to give them Syrian nationality.
The Syrian Kurdish population is therefore divided in two: one party has agreed to finally have its papers while another has joined the Revolution by conviction.
When Daesh arrived in Syria, the organization invaded the predominantly Kurdish region. By working with the international coalition against Daesh, the Kurds thought they would have the support of the international community to assert their land claims. Except that the Turks are strongly opposed to the Syrian Kurds having their territory, to avoid that they serve as a basis for the claims of Turkish Kurds.
Since the Americans announced they were leaving Syria, the Kurds felt abandoned by Westerners, especially in the face of the possible threat of a Turkish invasion in their region. The Syrian regime thus understood that they could continue to coax the Kurds by promising them a territory in order to fight against the Turks. Present alongside the rebels at the beginning of the Revolution, the Turks occupy today the north of the Syrian territory, which is unbearable for Bashar al-Assad in terms of sovereignty. However, Russia, both ally of Turkey and Damascus, is careful to avoid any clash between the two countries, which would put it in a complicated situation.
Can we talk about reconstruction in Syria?
Today, there are problems in the eastern part of the country, the one that has been freed from the yoke of Daesh and more particularly in its former capital, Raqqa. It is an area of Arab settlement that is controlled by the Kurds since they are the ones who managed to drive Daesh out of the city and the region. But between the Kurdish authorities who manage the city and the Arab populations, tensions have begun to appear.
On the ground, the war is far from over. Nothing is settled, and when we talk about the reconstruction of Syria, it makes no sense. What reconstruction can we talk about when we still see all these conflicts and actors who have not finished playing against each other?