By Shobhit Agarwal:
The ‘Arab Spring’, a wave of demonstrations and protests that began in December 2010 in Tunisia, has slowly but steadily, gripped the whole of the Arab world. Having accounted for the fall of decades of dictatorship in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya, it is tightening its clutches around the neck of Syria, which is at the brink of ‘genocide’.
Unlike its predecessors though, Syria has somehow managed to endure the uprising and civil war for over a year now, convincing its president, Bashar Assad, to wither the storm with the hope of somehow managing to come out of it unscathed, with his powers intact. Every effort is being made on his part to avoid sharing the same fate as that of his counterparts – Hosini Mubarak and Muammar Gaddafi — the former sentenced to life while the latter mercilessly killed by the rebels.
There are 2 main reasons for the survival of Bashar Assad —
1. Structure and the composition of population — the Syrian population comprises of 15% Alawais (Shiite branch of Islam), 10% Christians and 70% Sunni Arabs. If Bashar falls, tough times will be in store for the minorities, who fear being dominated by the Sunni majority.
2. Absence of big oil money and Qatar’s involvement — There is no huge oil reserves in Syria, in sharp contrast to its illustrious neighbours. Unlike Iran, there is no social stratification in the oil business, which shocked the people on its exposure and brought about widespread opposition within the country. Moreover the involvement of Qatar, its rich next door neighbour, in its civil problems is somehow providing Bashar with the audacity to stick to his guns despite opposition the world over.
Most of the countries in the UN Security Council have proposed a bill to impose sanctions on Syria and allow NATO bomb attacks to bring an end to the brutal civil war. However, Russia and China have managed to veto the bill by voting against it, claiming that they are not in favour of a Libya-like scenario in Syria.
But that resistance by Russia and China seems to be finally giving way due to the Houla massacre in the stricken country. 108 civilians, including 49 children and 34 women, were killed by the state army on the pretext of the village of Houla being held by the rebels. Not just that, the killings and the slaughters were recorded and uploaded online just moments after the massacre.
This prompted several countries worldwide, like USA, Britain, Canada, France, Holland and Australia, to not only impose severe restrictions on Syria, but to add to their pressure tactics by suspending the envoys to Syria and giving them a deadline within which they have to vacate the country.
As per the official UN figures, several thousand human lives have been consumed till date in this civil war. The reluctance of Bashar Assad and a few of his allies leaves one question to be wondered — How many more lives before this brutality finally comes to an end?