A Brief Look at 2020

What is most memorable about the year 2020?Covid 19 undoubtedly. This of course doesn't only apply to Syria but to the rest of the world. Covid 19 came and wreaked havoc everywhere it touched causing economic failure, bankruptcy and death. All countries suffered equally but Syria a tad more. Economic sanctions followed by the imposition of the "Caesar Act" left Syria in a deep trench. However with determination and sacrifice Syria was able to face Covid 19 with minimum loss of life. This was due to the implementation of a reasonable policy that went hand in hand with growing social awareness.

But 2020 for Syria was not only Covid 19 -  it was repeated Israeli attacks, with no repercussions whatsoever from the international community or security council. It was Turkish aggression and expansion into Syrian lands infringing on Syrian sovereignty. It was also continuous American looting of Syrian oil with most of the world turning a blind eye to it. Despite these heinous events Syria was able to start on the long road of reconstruction with Aleppo pioneering the process. The return of refugees was also a pivotal point with much focus on it, in the year 2020.

Syriatimes interviewed author Anas Al Raheb ,who has many publications on Arab issues and the war of terrorism on Syria.

In this interview he talks about how he sees the events of 2020 and his hopes and aspirations for the year 2021.


Reem Haddad

Q : How do you evaluate the year 2020 in Syria at the political and economic level?

A : Undoubtedly, the year 2020 continued to witness the tragic repercussions of the nine-year brutal war and the continuation of the American and Turkish occupations of northern Syria which have affected the security and economic stability of  the Syrians and their oil  and agricultural resources. In addition, the United States committed a major crime against the Syrian people in 2020, represented in imposing economic sanctions on Syria under the  so-called  “Caesar Act"  which has impeded the process of recovery and reconstruction in the country. Besides, this year also witnessed the outbreak of the Corona pandemic which has influenced the economies of all countries.

 Despite all these challenges, Syria has managed to overcome the greatest difficulties, especially those related to the collapse and division of the state and its  control by ISIS  terrorist organization supported by a number of regional and international countries. Thus, we can say that the year 2020, despite all pains, will lay the foundation for the next stage.

Q : In your opinion, is it possible that by Trump's departure, fundamental narratives  will change and a global political system will  crystallize?

A : The answer to this question can be divided into two parts: The first has to do with the international arena as some changes must be made by the new US administration towards some Western countries, especially major ones, in order to rearrange some unsettled issues, because the decisions made by Trump relating to bilateral relations or international agreements have, more than once, posed a threat to international peace and security and caused matters to get out of control. The deterioration of diplomatic ties between the US and each of Russia and China as well as the US withdrawal from arms control and environment treaties have been clear examples of the negative results of Trump's decisions.

The second part of the answer has to do with the Middle East, as Trump's policy in this region was about to lead, more than once, to the outbreak of wars that could involve several countries at the same time. The chaos left by Trump is large and is not consistent with the agreements that the United States of America is supposed to abide by, including the nuclear agreement with Iran. In addition, Trump's Middle East policy has violated all the UN resolutions and the will of the international community by signing the so-called "Deal of the Century", which breached the UN resolutions related to the area of the Palestinian land and the status of Al-Quds, and signing the declaration on the occupied Syrian Golan which recognizes Israel's annexation of this part of Syrian land.

Nevertheless, it must be noted that the American policy, especially in the Middle East, does not change in terms of objectives, but in terms of style and practice. It is known that most of the wars, which the United States has waged in the world, took place when the American administration was led by the Democratic Party to which President-elect Joe Biden belongs. However, new facts have been created in the Middle East region resulted from the developments and changes that accompanied the spread of global terrorism, the growth of China's power, especially its economic domination, the return of the Russian Federation to its global leadership again and the dangerous situation in the Middle East which threatens  igniting a third world war.

Q : Do you believe  that 2021 will achieve  positive changes at the political, economic and social levels in Syria?

A: No doubt, yes.

First, Syria, which has managed to emerge from a war, in which the most powerful international military forces and most extreme terrorist organizations in the world participated, must come out of its ordeal better, and I think that this started to happen by the beginning of 2020.

Second: Countries in the Arab region  are affected by each other, and it is imperative that decisions must be made at a high level of responsibility that lead to the return of the rapprochement between all parties, as politics is always dynamic and it changes according to developments and interests and cannot remain static. Security, peace and tranquility must be restored in the region after it reaches the stage of explosion(which it almost has ).

Third: The region has clearly entered the circle of political changes in most of its countries, and it needs to achieve stability, which will be reflected regionally and internationally. And, since Arab countries have common issues, these political changes will involve all. Therefore, I believe that the beginning of this year will achieve, on the humanitarian side, the return of many refugees, especially from the countries neighboring Syria and this will lead to a major achievement in terms of the development of the mechanism of work and administration. Regarding the economic side, the country will also witness development at the industrial, commercial and agricultural levels. Therefore, I see Syria  pressing ahead during the coming months to overcome many political, economic and social difficulties. 

Translated by:

Rawaa Ghanam