The rule of Islamic State (IS) in Syria appears to be reaching its end game. Earlier this week, the United-States backed coalition; the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) announced the capture of IS’s one time capital Raqqa. In addition to this, IS are under intense pressure in the few remaining regions of Syria they control. On a daily basis IS are being pushed back and defeated. The end is not far off.
Undoubtedly this is good news. IS are a barbaric group who have committed horrific and heinous crimes in the name of their cause. They have wrongly hijacked the name of Islam to claim justification for their actions. Although, the region and the rest of the world will remain vulnerable to “lone-wolf” style attacks, it is fair to conclude they are significantly weakened without their power base and the revenue that it brought the group.
However, disappointingly and somewhat depressingly this only represents one small segment of the multi-faceted civil war in Syria. The country remains plagued by fighting and a civil war which shows no sign of ending. Forces from across the region and from further afield continue to battle for power and control as they attempt to exert their influence upon the country.
When painting this vision of Syria, it can be hard to know what the world, and powers in the West can do to help. It can be hard to suggest what course of action is needed and how peace can be returned. The easy option advocated by some on both Left and Right is that we walk away, under the argument that our presence only adds further complications. This has never seemed a satisfying response to me.
The conditions created in Syria through this civil war is the greatest humanitarian crisis of our time. History will judge the world for how we respond. The idea it is simply too hard to find peace does no one any justice. Humanity has a duty to help each other. Secondly, whilst chaos reigns in Syria there will always be security implications for the world. Ending the civil war will thus have a positive security impact for the rest of the world.
Of course there is no easy solution. Rights and wrongs have been committed on all signs of the war. Good men and women have died while evil men and women have triumphed. Whatever peace is reached will not please all. But a peace of any description is where we must begin and what we must strive for. This begins by bringing the many parties round the negotiating table and getting them talking.
It is a momentous task, but is the task the World has been given. Rejoice that IS have been defeated in Raqqa, but please don’t believe the war is over in Syria. The Syrian people still deserve our attention and our best efforts to end their pain.