The Syrian conflict in five minutes
After enduring decades of authoritarian governments, the people of several Middle Eastern countries raised their voices in Paris and now stood their leaders in what has been called the Arab Spring. In Egypt and Tunisia, the uprisings were quick and decisive. In Libya, the protests led to a short civil war that ended with the death of Muammar Gaddafi.
Syria is another story.
This is Bashar al-Assad president of Syria his father, Hafez ruled for 30 years during which he modernized the country but at the cost of a brutal repression. Bashar came to power after his father’s death in 2000 and at first, he signaled he would be a different kind of leader, but the honeymoon with his people didn’t last. At the first sign of dissent, Assad tightened the restrictions on free speech, isolated the economy and left very clear that democratic rule wasn’t in his plans. 12 years of repression had to pass before thousands of people following the example of Egyptians and Tunisians, took to the streets to demand reforms. At first, Assad stance was conciliatory but the repression continued which in turn multiplied protests around the country the army answered by opening fire against the demonstrator’s hundreds died and thousands more were arrested. Any chance of a peaceful resolution died with the demonstrators. small groups of armed rebels started to appear almost immediately.
Since the government and rebels are mired in a war that claimed the lives of more than 60,000 Syrians in the first 18 months of conflict.
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After World War one the French and the British established the borders of the Middle Eastern countries grouping many religions and ethnic groups in the same territories. One of them the Muslim sect of the Alawite’s has been in command of Syria since the 70s despite representing only 12% of the population.
Under the ideology of keeping the country out of the hands of extremists, the Assad’s heavily favored their set and crush those who challenge them.
since the outset of the war, it was clear that it would last a long time mainly because the different rebel groups didn’t have numbers weapons or a unifying ideology.
The only thing they have in common is a deep faith for Assad. As the weeks and months passed the rebels have increased in numbers and weapons but not enough to topple Assad who is now receiving help from Iran also many of the rebel groups have abused killed and displaced civilians in the name of the revolution leaving many Syrians wondering if the cure is worse than the disease.
Mainly because Russia and China have blocked any kind of international effort against Assad.
Russia and China have interests in Syria and their leaders believe the Arab Spring hasn’t brought security or stability to the region. The U.S. hasn’t intervened openly because it hasn’t found a group who’s aligned with its ideology and as wearing that an intervention could give strength to radical groups. The experts believe that Assad will fall eventually the question is how long it will take.
Although the main rebel groups have joined an alliance it could crumble once Assad is ousted the struggle for power could lead to a new civil war and even to a fragmentation of the country.
The conflict could also extend to countries such as Turkey Lebanon and Iraq threatening the fragile stability of the Middle East. No matter the outcome whoever assumes power in Syria will inherit a country in ruins with an economy in shambles a deeply divided population and the challenge to fulfill the promises of the Arab Spring.