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The Middle East has traditionally been important for the world economy. The Middle East situation today has an impact on all aspects of life in America and much of the world.

Only by understanding the motivations of the various factions in the Middle East can we hope to understand how to promote peace and national security for Middle Eastern nations, Europe, and the United States.

Aug 16, 2011

The Syrian Tragedy

The past few months of violent uprising in Syria led to the killing of more than 2,000 people and the influx of more than ten thousand refugees to neighboring states. Such a bloody situation led to international concern about the Syrian government’s ruthless policy towards its population. Many foreign and Arab heads of states warned President Assad to stop its army’s ruthless attacks against the protestors. The Arab states, after nearly five months of silence, called on President Assad to send the army back to its camps and start immediate political reforms that will lead to stability in Syria.

Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar and Jordan have called their ambassadors back home for consultation. This political act is also a sign of protest against what is taking place in Syria. Also, Turkey sent its foreign minister, Mr. Davutogh, to Syria to urge President Assad to put an end to the killing of Syrian protestors. The foreign minister pressured Assad to start immediate political reforms that will lead to Syria’s stability.

Despite all the pressure and the official delegates travels to Syria to urge President Assad to stop the Syrian army’s ruthless attacks, his response was that he would not stop pursuing the terrorist groups in Syria who have killed more than 300 soldiers and security men.

It was reported that some of these soldiers were killed by army officers because they refused to kill protestors. Nevertheless, the political pressure generated in the Middle East and at the U.N. especially by the superpowers might lead to some political reforms in Syria. However, at this point, the chances are very poor that the Syrian regime will submit to external pressure. Also, I think the regime has crossed the point of no return.

It is also of interest that some of the Arab states who are pressuring the Syrian government to initiate political reforms and stop killing their people have failed to do similar things in their countries. A few moths ago, the Saudi and Bahraini governments suppressed the peaceful protest movements that were calling for political reforms and free elections. Saudi troops were moved to Bahrain, which helped the Bahrain Sunni government to crush the uprising. I would say that both Saudi Arabia and Bahrain should clean their backyards first in order to be more credible.

It is also of interest to read the global news that has been revealed recently, that the Saudi government is creating new terror law (as they call it) with the purpose of stifling protestors, according to Amnesty International. Criticizing the ruling family will be considered an offense that will send the attacker to jail for 10 years. The proposed law is aimed at the future protestors and not at the potential terrorists.

There is also another reason behind the pressure mounted by several Arab states against Syria: the fact that all of them are dominated by Sunni Muslim rulers, while the Syrian regime is dominated by a minority Muslim Alawite, an offshoot of Shia who are being criticized for killing Sunni Muslims, especially during the month of Ramadan.

There is no doubt that the Syrian regime, headed by President Assad, is almost controlled by members of his family such as Maher Assad, who is the military leader of the Republican Guard, which is the other strongest military regiment in the Syrian army. Other high military posts are also headed by relatives or associates of the Alawite community.

The influence of the Assad family extends to other political and economic institutions, which led to the spread of corruption on a larger scale due to the absence of democracy and lack of transparency and accountability.

During the past three months, President Assad has promised political reforms and free elections. In the meantime, the army is still attack and killing protestors. In addition, many thousands of people have been arrested and I see no end in sight. At the same time, the protestors’ crowds continue to get larger in many Syrian cities. Even the political slogans have changed. From “Irhal Now” (“Leave Now”) to a new one: “You Should Be Hanged”.

My assessment of the Syrian situation reflects no light at the end of the tunnel. The next few weeks will shed light on what the outcome will be in Sy

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