Syria. According to
COUNTRYAAH, Syrian President Hafiz al-Asad died June 10 in a
heart attack. He was buried at his birthplace Qirdaha June
13. Attending the funeral were among others. Egyptian
President Hosni Mubarak, Iranian President Mohammad Khatami,
Jordanian King Abdullah, Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat,
French President Jacques Chirac and EU Commission President
Romano Prodi. From Sweden came Foreign Minister Anna Lindh.
A number of measures were urgently needed to enable Hafiz
al-Asad's son Bashar al-Asad to succeed his father in the
presidential post. Parliament immediately lowered the
statutory minimum statutory age of the head of state from 40
to 34, the age of Bashar al-Asad. Bashar al-Asad was also
appointed leader of the ruling Baath party and
On July 10, the people elected Bashar al-Asad as
president in a vote in which he was the only candidate.
Al-Asad received 97.3% of the vote. The turnout was 94.6%.
In his installation speech in Parliament, Bashar al-Asad
emphasized the need for a peace agreement with Israel.
However, he maintained his father's demand that Israel must
first return the occupied Golan Heights.
Israeli and Syrian negotiators had met in the US in
January and discussed the Golan without being able to agree.
Hafiz al-Asad had since discussed further talks with US
President Bill Clinton in Geneva on March 26. After that,
negotiations between the parties were on ice for the rest of
the year. Israel demands that upon withdrawal from the Golan
be allowed to retain the northeastern shore of Lake
Kinnerets, which Syria does not accept.
Demands for increased democracy were raised from several
directions during the rest of the year. On two occasions,
Bashar al-Asad granted amnesty for a total of several
hundred prisoners, including members of the Muslim
Brotherhood. But a large number of political prisoners were
allowed to remain in prison, and the dominance of the
president and his Alawite clan continued.
On December 2, Bashar al-Asad made a plea in which he
promised the privatization of banks, free exchange rate and
The Russian Federation was reported in May to have agreed
to sell military equipment worth a total of $ 2 billion to
the Syrian Air Force.
On August 21, a poison gas attack was carried out against
the Ghouta district of Damascus. Hundreds were killed during
the attack, which was immediately attributed by Assad to the
Assad regime and triggered a fierce campaign to withdraw the
West militarily. US Barack Obama had already stated that the
use of chemical weapons was a red line that should not be
exceeded. The only two countries that declared themselves to
attack Syria immediately were Denmark and France. However,
the armed forces were isolated and in early September,
Russia made a proposal that received support from the United
States and ended up being adopted by the UN Security
Council. The proposal was to allow the UN to collect all the
chemical fighting materials of the regime and to destroy
them. Who was responsible for the poison gas attack in
Ghouta was not clarified. Each of the warring parties (and
their international supporters) mutually accused each other.
The UN Human Rights Council had already in spring 2013
documented that the rebel groups had conquered chemical
fighting substances and had used them in fighting. Israel
published interceptions of communications between Syrian
officers the same night the attack occurred, revealing that
they had been unprepared for the attack. The responsibility
was not placed, but it was clear that there was a party with
strong interests in withdrawing the West as a belligerent
party. Israel published interceptions of communications
between Syrian officers the same night the attack occurred,
revealing that they had been unprepared for the attack. The
responsibility was not placed, but it was clear that there
was a party with strong interests in withdrawing the West as
a belligerent party. Israel published interceptions of
communications between Syrian officers the same night the
attack occurred, revealing that they had been unprepared for
the attack. The responsibility was not placed, but it was
clear that there was a party with strong interests in
withdrawing the West as a belligerent party.
The government army, with the support of Hezbollah and
Shia militias from Iraq during the fall, captured several
areas around Aleppo and Damascus. The rebels were forced
back. In November, however, Islamic State (IS) and al-Nusra
conquered the country's most important oil fields in
November in Deir al-Zor province in eastern Syria.
In the north and east, IS grew ever stronger, and this
caused more and more conflicts with the other rebel groups.
In September, IS conquered the city of Azaz from the FSA
during the most fierce fighting between rebel groups. In
December, IS Bab al-Hawa captured the border crossing
between Turkey and Syria from the FSA and gained control of
several warehouses that contained large arms deliveries from
the UK and the US to the FSA. The two western states
responded again by ceasing supplies to the FSA. It was too
embarrassing that the supplies had ended up in IS's hands,
and the FSA apparently did not have the strength to defend
In January 2014, the Geneva II Conference on Syria was
initiated under the leadership of the United Nations peace
broker in the country, Lakhdar Brahimi. From the outset, the
conference was doomed to failure as the West stretched its
legs for all stakeholders to be involved. Iran played a key
role in the conflict, but Israel (and the United States)
prevented the Iranians from being invited. The Syrian
government was also kept outside, and up to the conference,
most of the rebel groups had announced in advance that they
would not participate. Brahimi resigned from the broker post
4 months later. In July he was replaced by the
Swedish-Italian Staffan de Mistura.
In January 2014, the FSA, the Mujahedeen Army and the
Islamic Front launched a coordinated offensive against IS in
Idlib, Aleppo and Raqqa provinces. They managed to retake
IS, but within a short time they had recaptured Raqqa. In
mid-February, al-Nusra joined the offensive against IS,
which soon had to withdraw completely from Deir Azzor and
Idlib provinces. IS instead consolidated itself around Raqqa
in the expectation that al-Nusra would attack.
The Kurdish YPG continued until March 2014 its advance in
eastern Syria, where al-Nusra and IS forces were driven back
and smaller cities captured. In March, the YPG announced
that it was suspending its advance, but at the same time
warned its enemies that it intended to defend the conquered
territories. Meanwhile, the Islamist groups continued to
ethnically clean their own areas of Kurds killed or driven
to flight, and the siege of KobanÍ continued without the
siege being able to move any closer.