The impact of the Tunisian and Egyptian Revolutions changed the political map of the rest of the Arab world. In some states, like Yemen and Libya, the uprisings have been very violent and lengthy. However, in Bahrain and Syria, the people have been uprising less violently than in the other two states. In Jordan, Morocco and Algeria, the uprisings have been milder by comparison to others.
Syria is one of the most secular states in the Arab world, with a population of 22.5 million people. Also, it is the most diversified Arab state in terms of religion and ethnic composition. Muslim Sunnis tend to be the majority in Syria. However, around one third of the population consists of Christian Arabs, Alawites (a Muslim Shiaa sect) and Druze (who are also an offshoot of Shiaa). Also, the ethnic composition consists of Kurds, Armenians, Assyrians and Druze. In addition there are over million Iraqi refugees in Syria and many are members of the Baath political party.
The government has operated under the political umbrella of the Baath party since 1963. The Baath party is ideologically oriented, which calls for Arab unity and a socialistic economy and freedom for all. Nevertheless, freedom of expression, politically and otherwise, does not exist in Syria.
Syria is run by an authoritarian regime with strict control of both the political and economic institutions. The political suppression led to the uprising that Syria has experienced during the past few weeks. It was reported that more than 60 people have been killed and many were arrested. This led President Bashar al-Assad to publicly announced political reforms to oppose the protests and ease the pressure created by the people’s uprising. He dissolved his cabinet and asked his previous agricultural minister Adel Sofar to form a new cabinet. He released some political prisoners. He further promised to end the emergency law that had been in effect since 1963. He insinuated that the reforms would permit political parties to be formed and operate freely. Presently, no political parties are permitted in Syria. In 1982, the government of Hafez al-Asad crushed the Muslim Brotherhood party’s revolt, which led to the deaths of more than 20,000 people. He also raised the salaries of government employees and lowered the prices of food.
The promises of political reforms made by Bashar al-Asad, if implemented, will satisfy the rioters and ease the pressure on the government. President Bashar is well liked by many people in Syria, which was reflected in the large masses of people who led an opposite uprising in his support. Nevertheless, high ranking Alawites, army officers as well as some relatives, who are well known as highly corrupt individuals, surrounds the president. I wonder if he can muster the power and determination to end their corruption and minimize their influence and power. This is to be seen.
The uprising that took place in Syria has also been manipulated abroad, especially in the U.S. The neo-cons have not learned a lesson from the blunder they orchestrated for the invasion of Iraq in 2003. That blunder led to the killing of more than 4500 American soldiers, in addition to more than a million Iraqi civilians. All such sacrifice was made for the benefit of Israel.
The neo-cons, the majority of whom are hardcore Jewish Zionists, are pressuring President Obama to interfere in support of the uprising and opposition to the Syrian regime. They are aware of Syrian opposition to Israeli policy and its support of Iran and Hezbollah in Lebanon. This time their efforts will hopefully lead nowhere and their misguided policy for the benefit of Israeli will not materialize.