The ghost of Syria has been floating around in the news for a while now. As a conflict area that has seen a lot of bad days, we have shed tears for Aleppo and its heart-breaking goodbyes. The Battle of Aleppo has been named the “mother of Battles” or “Syria’s Stalingrad.” And for whatever bad days we’ve been having, what one cannot ignore is that there are always heavier weights on Syrian hearts, steeper hills for them to climb.
And in all the ruthless wars waged and destruction invited by the Syrian government to its own citizens, there have been a number of international allies who have always had their back. Here we bring to you, 10 allies of Syria.
Russia and Syria have been traditional allies since 1956. They have fostered good relations with one another for ages. Russia has long been a very important international supporter of Syrian President and Commander-in-chief of Syrian Armed Forces, Bashar al-Assad. During the Syrian Civil War, Russia has been actively helping Syria in all ways it can. It has been sending military and technical help to Syria, by sending warplanes, attack helicopters, artillery pieces, and a good number of military advisers. It has also allegedly been helping the Syrian economy by sending a lot of banknotes by air to Syria. Despite a lot of criticism and backlash, Russia has proved time and again to be a great ally to Syria and, by the look of it, will continue to do so.
As active trading partners with Syria, China has been on Syria’s side for quite a while. It has supported Russia’s position on the issue, and keenly opposed all proposals made by the UN Security Council against Syria. The Foreign Minister of China has said that there should be no military intervention in Syria because it would definitely exacerbate whatever disorder and turmoil there is in the entire Middle East. He has also stressed a lot of times on the fact that the only way to settle this issue is political resolution. It has been pointed out that the situation was “reminiscent of the lead-up to the Iraq war”, which the United States has been directly condemned for.
Iran and Syria have been very close. During the entire Syrian Civil War, Iran has been a major support and a strategic ally to Syria. It has helped financially, by giving about $ 9 billion to the nation. It has also provided technical help and considerable amount of combat troops. In 2011, Iran’s supreme leader, Ali Khamenei vocally favoured the Syrian government. As the uprising in Syria morphed into a Civil War, Iran helped more with the military support. Part of this was because of rumours that the Persian Gulf states had been providing the opposition with military support. Towards the end of 2015, Iran stood strong in favour of Syria after meeting with Russian President, Vladimir Putin.
Somewhere around 2012, there was a report from a lot of sources that the Venezuelan government had been shipping tens of millions of dollars’ worth of diesel to Syria, so that army tanks could be fuelled properly. Later Venezuela itself confirmed the reports and stated that it would continue doing so. Before he died in 2013, the then President of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez, had been very vocal about his support for the Assad government.
5. Democratic Republic of North Korea (DPRK)
In the September of 2012, there was a huge issue among Iraq, DPRK and Syria. A DPRK airplane, going to Syria through Iraqi airspace was denied access by the Iraqi officials because they suspected that weapons were being carried. An earlier probe by the UN, launched in early 2012, to spy on DPRK had confirmed that DPRK was supplying arms to Syria, although prohibitions against the same had been put in 2006 and 2009. Apparently there are more than 15 North Korean pilots operating combat helicopters in Syria. Also, two military units from North Korea have fought alongside Syrian government troops in this very year, 2016.
Lebanon’s foreign minister has been opposing the idea of strikes on Syria, stating that it wouldn’t serve peace, stability and security in the region. In early 2011, six Syrian people were arrested in Lebanon for distributing flyers around Lebanon, inviting people to demonstrate against the Syrian government. Hence, although it has been officially neutral to the Syrian war, Lebanon has in a lot of ways been on Syria’s side. To add to that, it also remains the country that has nested the highest number of Syrian refugees, so that counts for a lot.
After Syria was suspended from the Arab League in 2011 and the Organisation of Islamic Operation in 2012, there have been very few Arab and Islamic states in favour of Syria. Algeria is one of them. It has been denouncing all sorts of retributive measures imposed by the UN to Syria. It was vehemently opposed to Syria’s suspension from the Organisation of Islam Operation. When, in 2013, Arab League decided to encourage military support for the Syrian Opposition, Algeria was strongly against it. It was one of the only three countries on the other side of the fence. The Algerian government is strongly against change of rule in Syria.
Although initially against Syria, Iraq has been in more or less good terms in Syria. It has been officially neutral about the Syrian conflict, but it has helped the Syrian government in a lot of ways. It has given financial support to Assad. It has also opened its airspace so that Iranian planes can send their support to the Syrian government. Additionally, it has also signed a contract which says Iraq will provide Syria with diesel fuel. Furthermore, it has given refuge to a huge number of Syrian refugees.
Egypt has always been in favour of “supporting national armies” in whatsoever condition, so naturally, the Egyptian government is in support of the Syrian government. There have been a few reports of Egyptian soldiers arriving in Syria for military training and possible military aid, but none so concrete whatsoever.
As one of the geographically closest neighbours of Syria, Jordan’s stance on this war is of utmost importance. However, what one must note is that Jordan hosts a US air base, and is very likely to carry out strikes, considering the United States has been in favour of military intervention in Syria. But Jordan has openly stated, in a commendable manner, that it “will not be a Launchpad for Syria”. King Abdullah of Jordan has been known to say that the only possibility of resolving the issue could come from a rational dialogue. Also, one must note that it has been home to a humongous number of Syrian refugees.