Syria is Headed for a Nasty Civil War
After observing the situation in Syria through a variety of internet-based sources, I have come to a somewhat disturbing conclusion.
Syria is likely headed for a civil war with potentially far-reaching consequences.
I am basing my prediction on the following verifiable facts-
1. Assad the junior has not been able to suppress the uprising against his rule. It is particularly noteworthy that his use of lethal force is making things more unstable, in contrast to what occurred under his dad. While there are many reasons behind this change such as everyone having cell phones with cameras, youth unemployment and global power shifts (the USSR was around in 1982)- let us concentrate on the net result of these changes. It appears that the old ways of suppressing dissent are making it worse and causing the government to do more of the same- thereby creating a self-accelerating circle of feedback amplification.
2. The boundaries of Syria, like many middle-eastern countries, were drawn by European powers without consideration to underlying religious and ethnic tensions. Syria is probably the most religiously diverse country in that region after Lebanon- and we all know how that worked out in the 1980s.
Syria’s population is 74% Sunni Muslim, and 16% other Muslim groups, including the Alawi, Shi’a, and Druze, and 10% Christian, with a very small Syrian Jewish community. Did I mention that Assad and his military officers are Alawites– a minority Shia group with an interesting relationship with the Sunni majority in that country. Let us also not forget that Syria has a significant Christian minority along with many other non-Sunni groups. So it is basically a fight between the Sunni majority and everybody else.
3. You might have guessed by now that a Sunni-Shia conflict in that part of world attracts many external parties such as Iran (Shia) and Saudi Arabia (Sunni). Moreover Syria’s own involvement in Lebanon (with its own interesting history), Jordan (refugee issues) and proximity to countries such as Israel (ahem.. 1967, 1973, 1982) and Turkey (mostly commercial) create conditions wherein parties with some stake in the situation might intercede to protect their vested interests and end up making it worse.
4. It appears that Assad Junior is not popular in that part of the world. Many of his frenemies such as the government in Jordan and Turkey are genuinely concerned about the effects of intra-religious conflict and civil war in Syria spilling into their own countries. While Israel would prefer the devil they know to the one they don’t, it is unlikely that they will be able to help Assad to any significant extent, even if they wanted to. Then there is the issue of Iranian-Syrian “involvement” in Lebanon and the effects of Assad’s fall on it. Israel would rather prefer Iranian aid to Hezbollah go through a Syrian valve- for obvious reasons.
So what is next?
I think that minority groups in Syria, who have benefited from the present system, will probably keep on supporting Assad. This will however create uglier divisions in that country and create problems that will start manifesting themselves even if Assad is deposed.
What do you think? Comments?