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Half million Syrians wanted for conscription: data

 By Ethar Abdulhaq

(Zaman Al Wasl)- Statistic undertaken by Zaman al-Wasl on the lists of those wanted to complete their mandatory military service, demonstrated that southern Syria and its center are ahead in the percentage of service evaders whereas the coastal areas have the lowest percentage of evaders.

The numbers extracted from the registry including 506,164 wanted persons, indicated that those wanted for drafting into the regime army in the southern areas of Syria form 30% of the total wanted for service so effectively 153,169 persons.
The Central Area takes First Place.

Syria is divided in terms of military conscription into 5 areas overseen by 5 directorates. The largest directorate is the Northern Area Military Conscription Directorate which includes Aleppo and Idlib provinces. The provinces of Homs and Hama come under the Central Area Military Conscription Directorate. Latakia and Tartus are part of the Coastal Military Conscription Directorate. The Eastern Military Conscription Directorate includes the provinces of Deir Ez Zor, al-Raqqah, and Hasakah.

If the southern area holds first place regarding the number of evaders then the central area (Homs and Hama) holds first place without competition in the number of evaders relative to the population where the number of those wanted by the Central Directorate is 120,165 persons, representing 24% of the total lists.

Although the southern area includes the largest population gatherings at the national level (Damascus and its suburbs) and the central area includes only two provinces, the sons of the central area form the highest number of evaders of military service.

Military conscription evaders in the northern areas (Aleppo and Idlib) form 21% of the total persons wanted in the lists, numbering 108,123 persons. They are followed, in terms of numbers and percentage, by the provinces coming under the Eastern Conscription Directorate where 41,000 evaders are registered, i.e. 8% of the list.
The coastal areas (Latakia and Tartus) come in at last place with 24,292 wanted, representing 4.7% of the total registered.

In its lists, Latakia includes the names of 10,854 Palestinians wanted by the Palestine conscription division which is subordinate to the Southern Area Military Conscription Directorate. The number indicates the large percentage of Palestinian youth in Syria who have chosen to not participate in fighting for the al-Assad regime, and refused to join the Palestinian Liberation Army which has for years been considered a military wing of the regime army, subordinate to the army, and working for it. The appearance of subordination has been strengthened and become more pronounced since the revolution started.

Contrary to all Palestinian males dispersed across the world, Palestinian males in Syria must complete a mandatory military service in the ranks of the Palestinian Liberation Army. The so called Liberation Army, no longer lives up to its’ name and has become a company within the al-Assad army participating in the bombing and killing of Syrians as has been documented by Liberation Army members themselves.
Peak Years

The numbers of those wanted to complete their mandatory military service in the regime army for the years 2011-2014, demonstrated that the year 2012 was the peak in Syrian males evading their conscription into military service. For this year only, the conscription divisions issued 231,481 warrants, forming 46% percent of the total wanted in the registry.

The 2012 evaders effectively form an entire army on their own. It clearly indicates the conscription crisis the regime is living and its ramifications such as prolonging the service of previously conscripted soldiers until now. The most famous is the 102 draftee group who have entered their 7th year of service although they should have been demobilized at the end of 2011!

In 2013, the number of warrants issued were 143,481 warrants representing an average of 28% almost of the total warrants issued. It is an increase of around 4% since 2011, with an additional 120,000 warrants only issued.

Regarding the ages of those evading drafting into the mandatory military service, according to their years of birth, those born in the 1990s (1990-1998 specifically) represent the highest percentage 58% where they are almost 293,000 of the total 506,000 evaders.

Those born in the 1990s represent the greater percentage of the conscription reserve the regime has depended on in the past few years as males born in those years have reached the “age of service.” Alongside these are those born in the 1980s (1980-1989) who represent almost 33% of the total military service evaders, numbering under 168,000.

It must be mentioned that the evasion warrants included a warrant for a youth born in 1998.

The warrant to search and draft him into service was issued in 2012 when the youth was 14. There are two other instances where youths born in 1997 were issued warrants for their drafting. A separate warrant was issued for each of them in 2012 and 2013 when they were 15 and 16 respectively.

Regarding those born in previous decades, their numbers and percentages are distributed in the following form:

-1970s (1970-1979), number 41,197 wanted, representing almost 8%.

-1960s (1960-1969), number 946 persons, 0.18%.

-1950s (1950-1959), number 100 persons, 0.019%.

-1940s (1940-1949) none.

-1930s (1930-1939) one person born in 1933.

It is unclear why the lists include the names of persons who have exceeded the maximum age for recruitment which is 42 years. In addition to the quandary of why warrants were issued for persons between 52 and 62, or for the oldest person listed who was 79 at the time the warrant was issued in 2012.

The Awards

The numbers particular to the evaders’ lists carry strong indicators about the deteriorating ability of the regime forces to draft males for their mandatory military service. If the conscription situation in Syria is placed in its historical context of the recent past, the lists reveal the catastrophic reality which the regime army suffers at the level of human resources.

From 2005 until the spring of 2011, Bashar al-Assad implemented a series of reductions of years of service. The media promoted it as a giving and an award, considering it an embodiment of the reform process, whereas in reality the regime suffered the repercussions of an excess of enlistees as the director of conscription explained about the year 2007 specifically. Al-Assad had to reduce the burden of this excess by reducing the number of years of mandatory service, reduce the treasury spending, and limit the accumulation of soldiers and officers in barracks and military directorates.

In 2005, al-Assad issued a decree reducing the mandatory military service from 30 months to 24 successive months. In 2007, he issued a decree containing central changes to the mandatory military service law, the most important being providing the opportunity before many cases to pay a monetary fee instead of conscription.

Other changes were reducing the maximum possible age of enlistment from 52 years to 42 years. The aim was to reduce the flow of Syrians to the army by substituting their bodily flow with monetary flows.

In 2008, the regime reduced the duration of mandatory military service once again from 24 months to 21 months. The al-Assad regime intentionally, one day after the spark of lite in Deraa, reduced the mandatory military service once again to 18 months only based on the decree 35, dated 19 March 2011.

The successive series of reductions confirm that the regime was reassured, even with the start of the revolution, to the strength of its conscription situation. The regime was even complaining of excess in this regard especially as Syria ranked among the first countries in terms of its population growth. Those drafted into the armed forced in each year exceeded the regime’s abilities to carry their burdens, and the regime sought to alter that through successive decrees.

Unequivocal Qualification

This excess which the regime complained of and sought to control slowed down after the start of the revolution to then dissipate and deteriorate pushing the al-Assad regime to issue laws, decrees and verbal instructions to balance between the number of those dissenting, killed, and evaders on the one hand and the rates of those conscripted on the other hand. All the steps the regime followed have failed totally or partially with the former dominating to a large extent. The regime has been unable to counter or improve the terrible conscription rates, and it will not be able to.

Within this framework, the regime issued successive amnesty decrees for those it refers to as evaders or runaways without any luck. There is nothing more indicative of the futility of the regime’s decrees other than the regime having to issue a second decree and a third decree on the same issue.

In addition, the reality of the regime retaining the successive military groups who have earned their demobilization years ago is solid evidence of the regime’s retracted ability to conscript. It is further supported by the increase in the number of sectarian militias which the regime has attracted from every corner and incorporated into its forces until the militias’ presences have become a source of mockery of the Syrian Arab Army which is now a formation of Afghans, Iranians, Iraqis, Lebanese, etc.

Finally, despite all the demands by soldiers of older groups to be demobilized and their repeated calls to al-Assad and his staff, the regime has deafened its ears due to the pressure of weak conscription.

One member of the People’s Assembly speaking on a regime subordinate television station, explained, “if we asked any field officer can you, o field officer, give up 5 of the soldiers you have from the 102 group? He will say send me others.” The parliamentarian continued saying honestly, ‘’until now there is no conscription to fill the gap in need.”

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