Home > Critical Thinking, Current Affairs, Musings, Reason, Secular Religions, Skepticism, Technology > Syria is Headed for a Nasty Civil War

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?

  1. Nestorius
    December 9, 2011 at 8:54 am

    You can ask someone who is on the field.
    —-

    So.. What do you think about the situation in Syria?

    • Nestorius
      December 9, 2011 at 12:15 pm

      Bashar is using the Alawites against the Sunnis by making them fear a Salafist rule. He is also increasing the fears of the Syrian Kurds from Turkish intervention.
      However, some Alawites, from Qordaha even, have already rebelled against the Asads. These belong to families that were traditionally hostile to the Asads. Tribal feuds among the Alawites themselves were and are still strong.
      Concerning Druzes, they are on the side of the rebels now, although silently. Same thing for Christians who are in regions with a Sunni majority.
      Riad al-Asaad commader of the Free Syrian Army, as it is called now, is not inciting feuds among Sunnis and Alawites, and he is calling Alawite officers to join the revolt. In fact, last month, some Alawite officers from the air force in Damascus were conspiring with Riad al-Asaad against Asad, but the plot was caught.
      In any case, things are heading for a division of the country in case the rebel army invades Syria from Turkey and in case most Alawites stay on the side of Asad, and for a long “civil” war. Besides, Asad is supported by the Russians (who might shift sides at any time), by Khamenei (through the two sections of his army: the Revolutionary Guards and Hezbollah), and by the Israelis.

      • Nestorius
        December 9, 2011 at 12:15 pm

        My observations from the field.

  2. MT
    December 9, 2011 at 11:13 pm

    A cynic might argue that the Europeans deliberately drew those borders to prevent a country from growing strong and causing trouble. Hence the existence of a significant minority in every country.

    Nope.. they were neither that competent or capable.

    • Nestorius
      December 10, 2011 at 8:47 am

      “a country from growing strong and causing trouble”

      This is nonsense. Which country anyway?

      There are big flaws in how Westerners view things. That’s why they are heading towards self-destruction.

  3. j
    April 15, 2012 at 8:57 pm

    Well, your prognosis was right: Syria is a mess. Regarding its future, look at its past: a Turkish/Byzantine governate.

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