Crisis in Syria

In 1963 the nationalist Ba’ath party took control of Syria and has continued to rule the country since then. The Ba’ath government with President Hafez al-Assad at its helm from 1970 to 2000 controlled home affairs with an authoritarian hand, while pursuing anti-western policies abroad. In the Six Day War, Syria had to give up Golan Heights to Israel in 1967 after suffering defeat. But it gained military and political influence in Lebanon owing to the Civil war in the 1970s. The Syrian government has always quelled domestic opposition with harsh measures and in 1982 thousands have been killed to suppress the Muslim Brotherhood uprising in Hama. After Hafez-al-Assad’s death in 2000, his son, Bashar al Assad became the President of Syria. Power continued to remain with the ruling family and its one –party government. With no scope for political dissent, a popular uprising was the only way for the slowly growing rebels to bring about change (BARNARD, “Missteps by Rebels”).

The crisis in Syria has emerged due to the long armed conflict between the loyalists of the Ba’ath party government in Syria and the forces that wanted to oust it. This conflict, marked by popular demonstrations, started on 15 March 2011 and grew on a larger scale throughout the nation by April 2011. The main demand of the protesters was to seek the resignation of Bashar al Assad and end the rule of the Ba’ath Party that was in power during four decades.

Besides, there was uneven growth in the economy with private investment bringing about a growth of consumerism in the upper classes and families linked to Assad. Most of provincial Syria suffered from high costs, scarcity of jobs that soon filled the people with anger and escalated into staged uprisings.

As the demonstrators staged mass uprisings, the Syrian Army was deployed in April 2011 to open fire on the protesters and control the demonstration. Apart from staging mass arrests, the security forces used gunfire and tanks to suppress the anti-government protests that were stirred by the Arab Spring in Egypt, Tunisia and Libya. In fact, the government saw the uprising as a work of terrorist groups that were increasingly armed aided by foreign mercenaries. But the international community condemned the clashes and violence leashed on the protestors. The Arab League responded by suspending Syria’s membership and set up an observer mission to peacefully resolve the crisis.

The civil conflict in Syria that began in 2011 has become a major humanitarian crisis in the world with many being displaced within the country and nearly million refugees taking shelter in the neighboring countries of Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, Turkey and Iraq.

By 2012, the stand-off between the protesters and the government has emerged into a civil war with US, the Gulf States, Turkey, Britain and France, recognizing the opposition part of the National Coalition of the Syrian Revolution to be the representative of the people. It signaled the collapse of the government and the belief that the central authority was beyond redemption.

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