Fermenting Social Change: The Syrian Civil War

Posted on August 12, 2012

By Pooja Mahesh:

When the Arab Spring began in the Middle East protesting against their regimes in late 2010, Syria soon buckled in 2011 with protestors demanding that President Bashar al-Assad and his government step down. In the spring of 2011, the Syrian government deployed the Syrian Army to quell the uprising. Several cities were overwhelmed with the soldiers and were asked to open fire on the civilians. Witness reports stated that those soldiers who refused to open fire were executed summarily by the Syrian Army.

Syria is one of the oldest places where civilization is thought to have been started. Damascus, Syria’s capital is one of the oldest continually inhabited cities in the world. Throughout its history, Syria has witnessed many changes of weather, violent or otherwise.

Before the uprising began, the protests were reasonably ‘manageable’ considering the fact that the rest of the Arab world was under a period of unrest. Syria remained what Al-Jazeera observed a “kingdom of silence” owing to the strict security measures, a relatively popular president, religious diversity, and concerns over the prospects of insurgency like the ones seen in neighbouring Iraq.

Many civilians, protesters and armed combatants have been killed. This calls into question as to how effective the government is in handling a protest that is trying to bring a government. Although it brings changes to the country, the protest has turned violent due to attacks on protesters, thus harming the country’s civilians intentionally, forcing many to question as to why they resorted to violence to calm down the situation.

Various countries (eg. — U.S.A., European Union and the Arab League amongst others) have condemned the attacks on the protesters. The Arab League responded by suspending Syria’s membership in the League. The United States have been openly critical and hostile about another military regime in Syria while China and Russia, who have close ties with Syria, have not been too keen about taking any action till date. On 3 August 2012, United Nations passed a non-binding resolution condemning the Syrian government as well as the Security Council for failing to stop the violence. The resolution stressed “grave concern” over the deteriorating conflict in the country.

The brutal regime’s breakdown has met with shock and horror amongst the mainstream media as well as many governments. However, one can consider the fact that the reporting, to some extent, maybe biased or one-sided as the United States led coalition in Afghanistan and Pakistan did not receive as much attention, coverage nor criticism.

The ongoing Syrian Conflict was assessed by the International Committee of the Red Cross, late last month (15th July 2012) and was declared as a “non-conflict international armed conflict” [the Committee’s legal term for a Civil War].

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