They year 2020 witnessed countless changing events in a series of twists and turns. New names rose to the governmental and decisions-making front, as “Caesar” was thrust in full force against the Economy. The American act widened the rift between the Syrian regime and its surroundings, and it thwarted Arab and regional attempts to restore liveliness in a regime that is rotten to the core.
While on-the-ground fighting subsided significantly, this year witnessed the largest series of Israeli airborne attacks. ISIS factions have re-positioned in the Syrian desert, and prominent figures in the reconciliation movements have been killed, as well as high-ranking figures in the regime’s army.
This year was ruled by an intense Russian Iranian rivalry over the sovereignty of Syria while on the ground forces fought north, south, east, and west to redraw the geo-political map. Every international party wants the biggest share of the pie in a time when population is starving under the burden of a crumbling economy and an ongoing collapse of the Syrian Lira. The dollar shortage coincides perfectly with the effects of the massive economic crisis in Lebanon.
At the military level, ISIS managed to kill 780 members of the regime and allied forces through ambushes, attacks, bombings, and lashed within the Syrian desert; among those were 108 non-Syrian pro-Iran militias. On the other hand, ISIS lost 507 of their fighters to airborne operations executed by the regime’s and the Russian air forces.
In early 2020, the regime regained control over the two strategic cities of Maarat al-Numan and Saraqib, and then in Aleppo, they advance north to the town of Bayanoun near the two loyalist towns of Nubl and Zahraa. This paved the way for the re-opening of the Aleppo-Damascus International Road (M5) for civilian trade movement for the first time since the beginning of the Syrian revolution.
The fiercest conflict arena, “Idlib”, had relatively calmed down after the de-escalation agreement between the Russian and Turkish sides, which led to the relocation of the Turkish observation posts once again.
In the south, the City of Daraa witnessed a series of assassinations that targeted a number of regime officers who participated in drafting the settlement agreements while the city of Suwayda saw the rise of a popular movement in June under the slogan “We want to live” that protested against the deteriorating economic conditions. The protests that took place in the city center were ongoing for several days.
Syria was hit by several wild fires in the summer of 2020. The fires spread out throughout rural areas consuming hundreds of square kilometers of forests and agricultural landscape in the countryside of Homs, Hama, Tartous, Lattikiya, and reaching for the very first time Qardaha, the birthplace of Hafez al-Assad.
Rami Makhlouf, a well-known billionaire close to the Assad family, was ousted from his influential position in the Syrian economy following a series of measures that were taken to seize his money from the banks and put his companies under direct surveillance. These measures are believed to be an attempt from Asmaa al-Assad to alter figures of the old economy and assist her husband in creating a front for the new economy by ushering in new figures, as the US administration continues to add new entries on the lists of sanctions.
On the economic front, the Syrians lost hope in salvaging the Syrian Lira, as it lost almost half its value in one year amid deteriorating living conditions. Fuel shortages and electricity rationing continue, as the regime resorted to distributing subsidies through aid cards that humiliate citizens by forcing them to wait in long queues which garnered the sympathy of the international community.
Topping off the year was the spread of the Corona virus which was denied by the regime at every step of the way. They lied about the number of infections, as they increased dramatically amid the absence of proper crisis management and a deteriorating health sector.