Al-Assad is an ethnically Alawite Shia and president of the Syrian Arab Republic. Because of its strategic position, Syria is regarded as a major player in any peace agreement in the Middle East. Since 2011, the regime has been fighting an assortment of groups who are mainly gathered under the umbrella of the Free Syrian Army, and now DA’ISH. Approximately 400,000 people have been killed, 7 million displaced internally, and about 5 million have fled the country in a growing humanitarian crisis which is also having a destabilising influence on neighbouring countries. Claims of atrocities and misinformation abound on both sides. With deep animosity between the different parties; the strong support of Assad by Russia, China, and Iran; and the presence of Al-Qaeda and DA’ISH amongst the rebels it has been hard for Western countries to develop a case for attacking Assad directly, and the prospects for a long, drawn-out war seem likely.
Source of Influence: Political
Status: Featured in current year