Conducting archaeological research requires direct contact with ancient sites and materials. But the escalating armed violence in Syria continues to prevent archaeologists from resuming their work on the land. Most of the international institutions shifted their focus from Syria and moved their teams and projects to neighboring countries.
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An important point is that the quality of services and the humanitarian situation can vary by locality. Rather than being the product of differences in the skills of municipal staff and workers in various localities, this situation depends on whether the money exists to finance reconstruction and development. As the government’s capacities amid the country’s crippled economy are limited, things heavily depend on locals and their relatives in exile, who might help by stepping in to fill the financial gap. We can only hope that the situation will improve in the future.
In short though, it is evident that Russia exerts more influence on the whole in our region than Iran, whose role as a broker of reconciliations would have been rejected by most of the people in the south, who are suspicious of what they see as Iranian attempts to spread the Shi’i religion and its political ideology.
Both Russia and Turkey share an interest in testing and flaunting their homemade arsenals in Syria. Although there is no concrete evidence that Russia and Turkey worked together to prolong the fighting, both have made wide use of the conflict to show off their respective weaponry to prospective international clients.
The Israeli-Iranian conflict visibly is no longer ‘cold’, with the two countries exchanging direct blows over Iran’s efforts to establish a permanent military presence in Syria. The recent exchange of fire reflects a signalling of seriousness by both Israel and Iran. Israel signals that it would remain assertive even after the withdrawal announcement. Iran signals that it will not tolerate Israeli strikes within Syria and that it will fire at Israel in such cases.
The Syrian regime wanted to stay in power at all costs, whereas the opposition wanted to topple the regime with the help of foreign military and political support, and kept insisting that this was its aim, even after it was on the verge of losing the war. The opposing political positions remained too far apart for any real negotiations to be able to be successful. Apparently, there was not any mediating party that was able to induce either side to moderate its position so as to be able to reach a compromise. Both sides considered it to be a struggle for life or death with hardly any room for compromise. With the increase of the numbers of deadly victims, refugees and destruction, the room for compromise – if there had ever been any room for compromise in the first place – ceased to exist.
With no quick solutions to the Syrian conflict in sight, Turkey’s approach to the war has become one of self-interest. Gone are the days of demanding regime change. Al-Assad looks here to stay, a fact reflected in Turkey’s changing stance on the war, which is now focused on countering Kurdish military strength. The resurgent Kurdish threat will ensure that Turkey will not be leaving Syria any time soon.