The Syrian war is a crisis that has been given ample attention to in the past few weeks. It has been an ongoing crisis, yet it has taken long for help and awareness to come through. Since the attention given to the war is beyond imaginable, misconceptions have emerged about the origins of the crisis, and I would like to clear them out. Rumor has it, the spark of Syria’s civil war was because of minor acts of vandalism in the southwest city of Daraa. However, the real origin of the war is, believe it or not, due to climate change.
Between 2006 and 2011, millions of Syrians suffered from the worst drought recorded in the country. This drought was longer and more powerful than a natural occurrence, and it could not be explained by natural variations in weather. This was climate change. Farmed fields of Halaby peppers deteriorated away, and nearly a million rural villages lost their farms because of the drought; approximately 85% of livestock passed away. No help was offered by President Bashar al-Assad, and citizens had to take matters into their own hands.
The citizens then swarmed into cities like Daraa, which soon became overpopulated. In the cities, the water problem became even more severe. Additionally, there weren’t enough jobs, and once thriving farmers started to swipe city streets in order to make a living. Thus, a small group of adolescents decided to express their frustrations and spray painted, “The people want to topple the regime”. Not long after, local authorities came and arrested a handful of the teenagers. They tortured the young boys, but these boys belonged to prominent families. Family members of the teenagers marched to the governor’s house and protested. Protests persisted through the whole city and spread throughout the whole country. Because of that unfortunate expression of frustration, many more crises, like the Syrian Refugee crisis in European and Gulf countries started emerging from the Syrian civil war.
Analysts completely miscalculated the impact the drought would take on the people of Syria. As Francisco Femia, the director of the Center for Climate and Security (based in Washington, DC) said, “As an international community we are not looking into environmental stress enough. It is really significant when you look at 1.5 million people entirely losing their livelihood. This was five years of extended drought. People just couldn’t live anymore in rural areas. The fact that there was massive population displacement from rural areas into urban areas was extremely significant; those dynamics may have contributed to social unrest, and the sustainability of the revolutionary movement.”
In order to get a more detailed image of the whole situation, please go to the following link.