In a world gripped by a pandemic, it can be hard to remember that a civil war in Syria is still happening. The conflict began in early 2011. A web of nations, resistance fighters, terrorists, civilian helpers (see “The Most Dangerous Job in the World”), and refugees complicate the situation in a country many of those once called home.
The war gave rise to the terrorist Islamic State group. It also triggered a catastrophic humanitarian crisis. Terrorized citizens tried to escape to safety in other nations. Those countries were not prepared to accept the masses. More than half of Syria’s pre-war population of 23 million people have been driven from their homes. The United Nations says that 80% of the population still there lives beneath the poverty line. Half the country lies in ruins . . . and the war is nowhere near its end game.
Russia, Iran, Turkey, and the United States all have boots on the ground in Syria. The Lebanese Hezbollah group—Islamist militants—and a slew of other Iranian-backed militias are fighting there. Israel bombs inside Syrian borders frequently. The war has so many international players that one Syrian joke says that it’s the remaining Syrian people who need to leave the country. Then they would not disturb those foreign powers fighting on their soil.
Russia aligned its military might behind Syria’s current president, Bashar al-Assad. Assad continues to chip away at Syrian rebel-held territory. The rebel hold has shrunk from more than half the country to a tiny strip in Idlib province near the Turkish border.
Meanwhile, the nation’s economy is deteriorating fast. Its currency is collapsing. Ordinary Syrians struggle to keep up with prices that rise even over the course of a day.
David Beasley, head of the World Food Program, called the situation almost “a perfect storm of devastation.”
Even if Assad were to recapture the remaining rebel-controlled territory, ruling it remains an unresolved issue. His government’s policy of “reconciliation” in areas it has already seized has proven futile. Temporary windows of relative calm crumble into acts of violence almost on a daily basis.
It’s God’s intention for human leaders to reflect His goodness to the people they lead. (See Romans 13.) But humankind outside of the Holy Spirit’s guidance strays to serve itself, often with violence and merciless persistence, and power is used corruptly apart from God’s will.
It is an abomination to kings to do evil, for the throne is established by righteousness. — Proverbs 16:12