Wikipedia characterizes the current war in Syria as a civil war:

The Syrian Civil War (Arabic: الحرب الأهلية السورية‎, Al-ḥarb al-ʼahliyyah as-sūriyyah) is an ongoing multi-sided armed conflict in Syria fought primarily between the government of President Bashar al-Assad, along with its allies, and various forces opposing the government.

and goes on to indicate a key factor in internal clashes is due to a law stating that the leader/president of Syria is not required to be Muslim.:

On 31 January 1973, Hafez al-Assad implemented a new constitution, which led to a national crisis. Unlike previous constitutions, this one did not require that the President of Syria be a Muslim, leading to fierce demonstrations in Hama, Homs and Aleppo organized by the Muslim Brotherhood and the ulama. They labelled Assad the "enemy of Allah" and called for a jihad against his rule. The government survived a series of armed revolts by Islamists, mainly members of the Muslim Brotherhood, from 1976 until 1982.

What is the reason for Syria's civil war?

  • "Major nations involved": that's vague. Please specify which nations are fighting in Syria, or are otherwise militarily involved with the civil war in Syria. – agc Feb 14 '18 at 18:51
  • @agc thanks for the edit. Will update question to specify. – Ronnie Royston Feb 14 '18 at 19:55
  • Your question (at least the title) may be a little too wide in scope. I'm not one of the close voters, but focusing strictly on why some major nations are involved in the Syrian conflict might benefit your question. You've also missed Israel in your list, unless you either don't consider Israel to be a major nation, or if attacking Government troops with airstrikes doesn't qualify as involved. – Jack Of All Trades 234 Feb 14 '18 at 20:18
  • This is Levant. Many major nations were ALWAYS involved in the fighting thereabouts. It's just in this really (in)convinient place where everyone cares about geopolitically. – user4012 Feb 14 '18 at 21:23
  • 2
    I agree with @user4012 here, there are many questions being asked here and you'll get a much deeper answer for each if you ask each separately. I would also add Turkey to your list of "Why is X involved in Syria's civil war" questions if you do. – Gramatik Feb 14 '18 at 22:27

This is a really complex question and has many sides. I will offer some of my own knowledge:

The roots of the Syrian civil war are linked to the Arab Spring and to older trends in Syria. Of the latter, the country, mostly Sunni, is ruled by a small Shiite elite. Highly corrupt, the Assad regime was a typical target during the Arab Spring.

Some background:

The Syrian army, rather massive, and largely of Russian equipment, is loyal to the Assad regime. It's role in the war is more than twofold. Of the obvious ones are that it gives Assad hard power (although they nearly lost the war before Russian intervention) and that it represents one of the several interests Russia has in this war. Syria has access to the Mediterranean and is bordered with Iraq, Joran, Israel, Lebanon and Turkey.

What's the war about? Well for Assad it was about remaining in power initially. Now it is about focusing on returning to his full control mode without giving up too much to the Iranians in Syria. On the opposite side, there are many factions and each look for either sovereignty (Kurds), or something more complex.

For Iran, the most obvious interest is a land-corridor stretching from heavily Iranian influenced Iraq to Lebanon, where Hizbollah is a major player. This type of land reach allows Iran to directly supply its proxies with weapons and have access to the Mediterranean. The proxies play a key part of Iranian strategy in that they further its conflicts from its homeland, and buys them influence.

For Russia, it seems the most obvious interest is a veneer of influence and power. Russia plays a role of mediator between the Assad regime, Iran and its militias, Israel, and other smaller factions. Russia also has interests in Syria in oil production and weapon sales.

For Israel the Syrian civil war is turning to be about preventing Iranian military establishments in Syria. Having them would mean a much more convenient passage to Hizbollah in Lebanon. Moreover, the Israelis want to avoid a double front in its northern border. Israeli policy of the war doesn't seem to be about trying to influence the fate of the regime, or its successor, but more to halt Iran.

The U.S interests in Syria are to me more puzzling. Most obvious are containing Russia and Iran, and securing Israel. The Americans have alliances in the region with Egypt, the Saudis and Israel, among others. It is not clear to me how might the U.S administration react to Iranian entrenchment in Syria. I guess I should mention that IS played a major role in attracting the U.S into this conflict, but I can't say that they show intent on managing it currently.

Hopes this gets you started,

  • This isn't anywhere in-depth enough, sorry, despite a valiant attempt. For one thing, it doesn't mention Alawites and the clan networks that are base of Al-Assad support, domestically (calling them Shia is imho an oversimplification). – user4012 Feb 15 '18 at 3:36
  • @user4012 yes you're right - I stated that I only wrote some of my knowledge, and intended this to be a partial starting point.. – user19486 Feb 15 '18 at 8:11
  • Just to be clear, it's a good answer. The fault is with overly-broad question. – user4012 Feb 15 '18 at 13:26

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