In this post, I wanna start with the history, the background of the Syrian revolution. First of all, why I am writing this? What is so special about the Syrian revolution? Maybe, some of you might not have even heard about it. According to the latest data given by the UN, an estimated 93,000 people have been killed since the uprising begun, back in March,2011. The number is expected to be much higher, as most of the deaths go unaccounted for. The rate at which the people are dying, its shocking! 5,000 deaths are taking place in one month alone! 80% of the victims are men! Around 1.6 million people have fled the country since 2011 to neighboring countries in seek of a peaceful life. And in the coming posts I will tell you what these refugees face in the foreign land. Such an atrocious war, and countries like Russia, Iran and even China to some extent are helping the government.
So let’s see how it all began. In March, 2011, a group of teenagers painted revolutionary slogans on their school’s walls in the southern city of Deraa. They were then arrested and tortured. Security forces then open fired at a group who was marching against the arrest and torture, killing four people. Protesters also demanded the release of political prisoners. The next day, security forces shot at mourners who had gathered at the victims’ funerals, killing another person. Then, the government announced some conciliatory measures in order to damp down the unrest. By then, the protest has already spread to Damascus, Syria’s capital and then to the entire nation.
Apart from this, there are many other reasons which triggered the war:
*Bashar al-Assad became the President of Syria after the death of his father, Hafez, who had gained the power in a military coup in 1970. Bashar dashed hopes of reforms. Though, he did trigger reforms but then the pace went slow, if not reversed. Also, there was just one family, ruling the country since 1950s, and there was no peaceful transfer of power.
*Syrian Baath Party is regarded as the founder of ‘Arab Socialism’. However, the Baathist ideology was reduced to an empty shell, following a war with Israel and a crippling economy. Assad tried to revive the economy by employing Chinese model of economic reform but remained unsuccessful.
*It is also said that Assad made policies which were favorable to his own family members or the people known to him. As a result of it, cost of living soured and unemployment also rose.
*In a crippling economy, what added fuel to the fire was the drought which hit the North-Eastern Syria, affecting many farming communities in 2008. No steps taken by the government to help the miserable plight of the farmers, also catalyzed the uprising.
*What made the problem all the more worse was the ever increasing population. The unproductive public sector and the struggling private sector found it difficult to accommodate thousands of people vying for jobs.
*The state of media in Syria was also deplorable. There was a tight control over the satellite TV, mobile phones and the internet which are the harbingers of change in any country.
*From opening a big business to a small shop, corruption was involved everywhere, in every sector. Those who had money or contacts would easily go on with their business, but the ones who had nothing were left helpless. The system is corrupt to this extent that anti-Assad forces buy arms from the government forces, and families bribe the government to release prisoners that have been detained during the uprising.
*State violence also escalated the uprising as the rate of funerals increased by leaps and bounds. Security forces went on killing civilians and it triggered more hatred for the Assad regime.
*Many say, the Syrian Uprising is not a civil war, but a SECTARIAN war. Syria is a country of 21 million people with a majority of Sunni muslims(74%) along with Alawites- a heterodox sect to which Assad belongs and Christians. Although Assad promotes secularism, the power is concentrated in the hands of members of his family, i.e. the Alawites. Whereas, the opposition party is strongest among the Sunni muslims.
*The Tunisia Effect- A street vendor in Tunisia, Mohamed Bouazizi, who self immolated himself, triggered a wave of anti-govermant uprising across the middle east. Al Jazeera broadcast live the uprising in Tunisia and Egypt. It made several Syrians aware of the fact that they, too, can do something like this and hence the uprising.
So, whether it is a Civil war, as we all know till now, or a Sectarian one, thousands of innocents are dying and thousands are forced to displace. Everyday, stories of innocent kids surface, some have lost their limbs, some have lost their eyes. Also, in a such a war prone country, rape and molestation are on a rise. Obama, in his speech during his first visit to the Palestine after becoming President for the second time said that the question is not that whether Assad will go or not. The question is when he will go?
So with this, I am signing off with my first post on a topic that is so dear to me, for the stories I hear everyday of the Syrians, I will again come up with another aspect of the revolution, touching upon the difficulties faced by the Syrians.