This Article is About
bashar al assad
ban ki moon
little hope
arab league
Syria's Fractious Voices
Join 1000's of Authors at StreetArticles Today!

Syria\'s Fractious Voices

Bashar and Asma al-Assad appear on fashionable people pages the world over: enjoying an art exhibit in Paris, or frequenting one of New York’s trendiest clubs. They’re slim, attractive and stylish, the envy of international wannabes the world over.

Bashar al-Assad’s ascent to power after his father’s death was hailed as a new, more liberal era for Syria. He promised to rule differently from his dictator father, and there was wide-spread talk of reform. For a time, the first couple enjoyed a honeymoon with the world press.

Yet Assad’s regime has responded to dissent by slaughtering thousands of its own. The UN, the world’s democracies, and the Arab League have all met urgently. Sanctions have been imposed and assets seized. Asma al-Assad can no longer travel to England, where she grew up. UN/Arab League envoy Koffi Annan stepped in to broken a peace agreement that’s due to go into effect on April 10th, and Ban Ki-Moon, the current head of the UN, has warned that the deadline is not an excuse to kill as many dissidents as possible in the meantime. Key European Union trading partners have cut Syria loose, and still al-Assad appears grimly determined to crush the armed uprising. The press reports little hope for the Annan peace plan. Propects for dialog are slim.

Indeed, the regime has behaved despicably over the past year. Thousands have died or disappeared, reports of torture are rampant, and the town of Hama has been all but leveled. With what we in America see and hear, it’s easy to view the situation in Syria as another chapter in the year-long Arab Spring. Cries that al-Assad should step down ring out from numerous quarters, and support for the dissenters grows as the violence escalates.

But al-Assad’s repeated preference for bloodshed over talking is not just the result of his desire to hold onto the reins of power. He fears an Islamist takeover, and his fear is grounded in reality.

The differences that divide the dissident factions are political, economic, and religious in nature. While about 75% of Syria is Sunni Muslim, virtually all of the top political, military and intelligence posts in the government are held by members of the tiny Alawite Muslim sect, which is affiliated with the Shia Islam, and to which the al-Assad family belongs. In fact the key posts are held by the family itself. Lower echelon government jobs belong mostly to well-to-do Sunnis who are loyal to the regime. The majority of poor, disenfranchised Sunnis feel deep (if unspoken) resentment of the Alawite regime and its privileged Sunni lackeys. From the outside, al-Assad is supported by the Shia majority in Iran and the Lebanese Hebullah.

The result is that those opposed to the regime have not managed to create a united front, which prevents them from gaining a geographical stronghold from which they might expand their influence and to which supporters could send arms and supplies. Unlike in Eqypt and Libya, they have not succeeded in taking and holding a single town, though al-Assad’s forces have concentrated their wrath on the Sunni population of Hama and Idlib in the western part of the country, as though those areas were Opposition HQ.

With such a widely dispersed insurgency, the collapse of the al-Assad government might well leave a black hole, with deadly chaos close behind. And history has taught us that deadly chaos is a fertile breeding ground for Islamist extremism. So al-Assad’s propensity for labeling the opposition as terrorist is not just rhetorical. Qatar, Saudia Arabia and Turkey are reportedly funding Syrian insurgents, at least some of whom are Islamist terrorists. If al-Assad is toppled, terrorists could indeed begin to crush the other factions, thus killing off any remaining vestiges of the good will necessary for peace talks.

The United States, France and some other countries support the Syrian National Council, an opposition government currently headquartered in Paris, as the head of the insurgency. The SNC is led by westernized Syrians and refuses to send arms or aid to more militant combatants inside Syria. It is headed up by Burhan Ghalyun, a French professor at the Sorbonne. Then there’s the Free Syrian army which is made up largely of former al-Assad troops who have defected, and which is furious at the SNC’s refusal to help those actually fighting for the cause. It differs with the SNC as to how and even whether to garner support outside Syria, and whether to negotiate with the al-Assad regime.

Kurds make up about 10% of the Syrian population, and opposition leaders at a meeting in Istanbul, where the factions struggle to create a viable coalition, have said that Kurd support is pivotal, though many Kurds seem to be keeping their heads down for now. In addition there’s a new wave of opposition spurred on by a highly Sunni, highly religious ideology, and it looks ever more Islamist. Also, Local Coordination Committees draw together young, unorganized protesters, document protests, and spread anti-government messages. Finally, there are significant Druze and Christian groups in Syria, and reports vary as to their loyalties. At any rate, it’s safe to say that thousands of Syrians are doing their best to stay out of the conflict while they wait for an outcome.

Regardless of the daunting picture I’ve painted, it’s vital that we in America inform themselves about the complexity in an on-going way, and that we support the formation of a representative coalition to govern Syria. Sovereign countries whose populations are deeply divided are not a new phenomenon, and we must hope that Syria will find its way too. As the story unfolds, let us also hope that the al-Assad regime is dealt with in a way that supports the formation of a coalition that’s capable of governing.


Street Talk

No comments present
You May Also Like
Why is Syria Killing Its Own People
The Simple answer is Greed and Fear! Greed of a dictator 'President' Bashar al-Assad, and the fear of those who serve him, that if he loses his power they will lose their positions of power and wealth. They all have vested interest in him remaining in power. There is undoubtedly…
By: David van Zijl in  Politics  >  World Politics   Aug 28, 2012  
4
  Likes: 3

Russian Envoy : We Can Do No More For Assad, Syria Loses Last Grasp Of Status Quo
Mikhail Margelov, a senior lawmaker under Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has reported that Russia has reached an end to what it can do for Syrian president Bashar al Assad. Margelov, the Special Envoy to Africa as well as a member of the diplomatic team in Syria, stated that the Russian…
By: amie nogrady in  News and Society  >  International   Jan 24, 2012  
0
  Likes: 0

UN Security Council to Vote on Syria: New Resolution Draft Makes Major Concessions
After failing to reach an agreement on Thursday, the United Nations Security Council will meet once again on Saturday in hopes of signing into effect a resolution that will pressure Syrian President Bashar al Assad and stop the bloody crackdown that has been ongoing in the troubled country. On the…
By: amie nogrady in  News and Society  >  International   Feb 04, 2012  
0
  Likes: 0

International Community Calls for A Tsunami Of Pressure Against Syria
The international community, including the Friends of Syria, held a meeting in Tunisia demanding that a swift, political solution be taken in Syria, starting with the pressure to strip away resistant support for President Bashar al-Assad. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced at the conclusion of the meeting that…
By: amie nogrady in  News and Society  >  International   Feb 25, 2012  
0
  Likes: 0

Human Rights Groups And Grieving Family Misled By Syrian Officials
The Syrian government and a Syrian hospital both told a grieving family that their daughter was dead. The family of eighteen year old Zainab Alhusni was at the hospital to pick up the body of their son, activist, Mohammed Alhusni who had been shot during a demonstration.  A  doctor told…
By: Reed Cambpell in  News and Society   Oct 07, 2011  
0
  Likes: 0

Syrian Troops Shell Villages: Civil War Looming In Nation
The Arab League voted to suspend Syria from membership, extending a deadline for the nation to come to some kind of peaceful plan to end the bloody crackdown against protesters there. NATO estimates that at least 3500 people have died since President Bashar al Assad announced a strict crackdown. That…
By: amie nogrady in  News and Society  >  International   Nov 18, 2011  
0
  Likes: 1

Arab League May Suspend Syria If Conditions Are Not Met
Syria escaped being suspended from the Arab League but only by a narrow margin, according to reports. Arab foreign ministers met in an emergency meeting in the League's headquarters in Cairo, Egypt to discuss the continuing crisis in Syria related to the bloody and ruthless crackdown by President Bashar al…
By: amie nogrady in  News and Society  >  International   Oct 17, 2011  
0
  Likes: 0

Syria's Protestors Put Pressure on Government, Shops Shut Down During Strike
On Saturday, Syrian President Bashar al Assad issued a 72 hour deadline to the anti-government protestors, many focused in the city of Homs: either stop the protests, turn in all weapons and surrender the military who have defected by Monday night or face a full bombardment, Lt. Coloner Mohamed Hamdo…
By: amie nogrady in  News and Society  >  International   Dec 12, 2011  
0
  Likes: 0

:the Young Dynamic Leadership
In the political outdoors theater of Maharashtra Satej [Bunty] D Patil is as prominent and prestigious as the Kolhapuri Silver enrichments are on the planet market. The political life trip of this youthful extravagant and visionary force of Karveer is blossoming with endowments of Shree Mahalaxmi, capable heading and enduring…
By: satej patil in  Politics  >  World Politics   May 23, 2016  
0
  Likes: 0

Yemen: Strange Turn Of Events for Iran
At a time when everything is going south for Iran in the Middle East, the Shiite Houthis have jumped on the bandwagon and turned on the mullahs. In spite of years of providing financial aid, sophisticated arms, logistics and dedicating its Quds Force advisors regardless of its own moribund economy,…
By: pejmanamiri in  Politics  >  World Politics   Apr 30, 2016  
0
  Likes: 0

Restoring American Democracy
Every high school student in the United States is familiar with the fundamental concepts of our democracy as embodied in the Gettysburg Address, the Declaration of Independence, and the United States Constitution. In brief, these documents underscore the proposition that the authority of a legitimate government depends on a free…
By: james siddall in  Politics  >  World Politics   Mar 11, 2016  
0
  Likes: 5

Advantages Of Federalism
Federalism is a legal and political concept suggesting that law is best made in a twofold relationship: centrally and locally. Operative in many nations around the world under many different guises, federalism is centred on the principle that locality is key to effective governance. It holds that by making laws…
By: Makowski Piotr Dariusz in  Politics  >  World Politics   Feb 29, 2016  
0
  Likes: 0

Alienation Of Assets
In commercial terms, the world revolves around insolvency. Insolvency is the process whereby one's entire patrimony (i.e. the totality of one's assets) is liquidated in order to satisfy his total debts that have grown beyond his means. Insolvency procedures are problematic in that they mean liquidation of personal assets such…
By: Makowski Piotr Dariusz in  Politics  >  World Politics   Feb 29, 2016  
0
  Likes: 0

Who is Barack Obama?
Obama is a Democratic senator from Illinois, who is sitting as only the fifth African American Senator in United States history. Couple that with the fact that he is currently the only African American serving in the Senate and you must concede that he is definitely determined. Obama was elected…
By: Makowski Piotr Dariusz in  Politics  >  World Politics   Feb 29, 2016  
0
  Likes: 0

The Iran Inaccuracy Of the Obama Presidency
By Amir Basiri U.S. President Barack Obama has come under fire, especially from Capitol Hill, for his misguided nuclear agreement with Iran, which has provided a temporary but critical lifeline to a very dangerous regime. Two ballistic missile launches; rockets fired at ships in the Strait of Hormuz; ten American…
By: Amir Basiri in  Politics  >  World Politics   Feb 28, 2016  
0
  Likes: 0

Article Views: 2200    Report this Article