Syrian Factions

The Syrian Civil War is complicated. There are a bunch of different sides, and a bunch of different outside actors with varied opinions about those different sides.

Assad regime: the current legitimate government of Syria. Run by a dictator who may not exactly be bloodthirsty, but is certainly willing to get as much blood on his hands as needed to stay in power. Big power base is the minority Shia Alawite group that Assad is a member of, and which is (probably rightly) terrified of finding itself in a country it’s not in charge of.

Syrian Democratic Army (SDA): a multinational democratic socialists fighting for all that is good and right with the world. Mostly composed of Kurds, and in control of Kurdish majority areas.

ISIS (+ other Islamic fundamentalist rebels): there are a few different groups of radical Islamist rebels, with ISIS being by far the most successful. They’re all pretty nasty. They are Sunnis and have a tough time expanding beyond Sunni majority areas.

‘Moderate’ rebels: Sort of a catch all for anti-Assad forces that are not Islamic extremists and not part of the Kurd-dominated SDA. Some of them are great guys fighting for freedom and justice, some are as bad as anybody else in the conflict.

Everyone has their preference of which of these groups they would like to do better, and which they’d like to do worse. Here’s mine followed by my impression of where some major stakeholders are at. Feel free to dispute the orderings or offer your own.

Me:

  1. SDA
  2. moderate rebels
  3. Assad
  4. ISIS

 

United States:

  1. moderate rebels
  2. SDA
  3. Assad
  4. ISIS

 

Russia:

  1. Assad
  2. SDA
  3. moderate rebels
  4. ISIS

 

Gulf States:

  1. moderate rebels
  2. ISIS
  3. SDA
  4. Assad

 

Turkey:

  1. moderate rebels
  2. ISIS
  3. Assad
  4. SDA

 

Iran:

  1. Assad
  2. moderate rebels
  3. ISIS
  4. SDA
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