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 later DA’ISH, though the latter group lost significant power in 2017. Approximately 400,000 people have been killed, six million displaced internally, and about five million have fled the country in a growing humanitarian crisis which is also having a destabilizing influence on neighbouring countries. The Khan Shaykhun chemical attacks of 2017–which the Syrian regimes denies carrying out–provoked airstrikes from the US military. In July 2017, the USA, Russia, and Jordan agreed to a ceasfire, with Russia giving assurances regarding Assad’s compliance, and the US administration stopped equipping and training anti-government rebel groups.
Source of Influence: Political
Status: Featured in current year