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Syria Powered By Docstoc
					Michael Massman and Danny Cruser
      History (1920-1946)
 Following nearly 400 years of Ottoman
  Rule, the Arabic Kingdom of Syria as
 This lasted only a few months, as French
  troops soon occupied Syria following action
  by the League of Nations to put the country
  under French Mandate
 WWII lead to the beginnings of a transition
  of power, and in 1946, internal pressures
  led the French troops to leave the country
 Power left in the hands of a republican
  government that had been formed under
  the French
      History (1946-1958)
 Rapid economic development in post-
  WWII boom
 Series of military coups from 1949 to
  1951. Colonel Adib Shishakli seize
  power in 1951, overthrown in 1954 coup
 Emergence of Arab Nationalist and
  Socialist elements lead to a 1958 merge
  with Egypt to create the United Arab
         History (1958-1970
   After a military coup in 1961, the UAR broke
    about and Syria was reestablished as the SAR
   Another series of coups lead to the
    establishment of National Council of the
    Revolutionary Command by the Arab Socialist
    Resurrection Party (Ba’ath Party)
   Plans for a federation type unification with
    Egypt and Iraq were proposed but didn’t go
    anywhere. President Amin Hafiz establish
    several institutions commonly found in
   Coups occurred within the Ba’ath party in 1966
    and 1970
           Hafiz al-Asad
 Minister of Defense who led the 1970
  coup to become prime minister.
 Quickly created governing infrastructure
  in order to consolidate power.
 Formed legislature, elected president,
  and, in 1973, a new constitution that
  allowed for the first parliamentary
  elections since 1962
           Asad (1970-2000)
   Has faced internal criticism before, often quickly
    dealt with.
   1970’s – fundamentalist Sunni Muslims
     Rejected basic values of secular Ba’ath program
   1976-1982 – Muslim Brotherhood headed an armed
   In 1982, government acted out against oppostion,
    destroying parts of the city of Hama and killing
   After that, anti-regime activity has been very limited
   From 1990 involvement with first Gulf War, change in
    relations with the Middle East and West
          Bashar Al-Asad
 In 2000, Hafiz Al-Asad died. The
  parliament amended to constitution to
  allow Bashar to run.
 Bashar won an unopposed referendum
  with 97.29% of the vote, reelected in
  2007 with 97.6%.
 Little to none political reform, limited
  economic liberalizations
Presidential Family
        Foreign Relations
 Limited cooperation with US post 9/11
  deteriorated with the onset of Iraq War
 US impose sanctions, freeze certain
 Key issues with US and Middle East
  Neighbors included Iraq War, Lebanon,
 Beginning in 2009, US began to engage
  Syria, Ambassador returned
       Government Structure
   Constitution grants Ba’ath Party many of the
    leadership functions of the state.
   No official religion (Ba’ath party emphasizes
    socialism, secularism) but president must be Muslim.
   Islamic jurisprudence is the basis for much of the
    legal system. Also influenced by French and
    Ottoman legal systems.
   Constitution offers many protections but Emergency
    Law, which suspends these, has been in effect since
   Asad is a member of a minority Shi’a sect; most
    Syrians are Sunnis.
   Military and security services have strong economic
    and political influence.
       Political Conditions
 Described by the US State Department
  as “an authoritarian regime that exhibits
  only the forms of a democratic system.”
 Citizens have the right to vote for the
  president and parliaments, but can’t
  oppose or change their government.
 Regime’s continuing strength due, in
  part, to the “army’s continued loyalty and
  the effectiveness of [the] large security
      Economic Conditions
 Syria is a middle-income, developing
  country. PPP/c $2314.94 in 1990 to
  $5107.93 in 2010. 12% below poverty
 Approx. ½ of economy is based on
  agriculture and oil, with the rest being
  based on industry, tourism, etc.
 Major challenges to growth
 Current unemployment estimated
  between 10 and 14 %
        Political Freedoms
 Polity Score of -7
 Freedom House
  described Syria
  as “Not Free”
 Press laws limit
 Twitter and
  Facebook are
                    The Protests
   15 March – Protests began after a group of school boys were
    arrested for writing antigovernment graffiti.
   16 March - “Silent” protests over the arrests
   18 March - Demonstrations in Dera’a demanding political freedom
    and an end to corruption in Syria.
   20 March - People continue to demand an end to Syria’s long-
    running emergency law banning political opposition. Crowds set fire
    to headquarters of the Ba’ath Party in Dera’a.
   23 March - Reports of Syrian forces killing six people in an attack
    on protesters in Dera’a, and later the same day opening fire on
    hundreds of youths marching in solidarity. Faysal Kalthum, regional
    governor of Dera’a, sacked by President Asad.
   24 March - President Assad’s advisers say the president has
    ordered the formation of a committee to raise living standards and
    study scrapping the emergency law.
   25 March - More protests at funeral processions. Many arrested,
    but believed to have been released
   26 March - Clashes between security forces and protesters in the coastal city of
    Latakia kill another 12, according to Syria's state news agency. President Asad
    deploys the army there the next day. In an attempt to placate protesters, Asad
    frees 260 prisoners, and 16 more the next day.
   27 March - Army increases its presence in Dera’a.
   28 March - Security forces fire into the air to disperse hundreds of protesters in
    Dera’a. Reports of pro-government rallies taking place across the country.
    Amnesty International cites unconfirmed reports saying 37 more people had
    been killed since 25 March in protests in Damascus, Latakia, Dera’a and
   29 March - Resignation of government following weeks of protests. President
    Assad appoints former government head Naji al-Otari as the new caretaker prime
   30 March - President Asad delivers a speech for the first time since the protests
    began, but does not announce any major reforms.
   31 March - Asad orders an investigation into protest deaths in Dera’a and
    Latakia. The Syrian state news agency says a panel will study and prepare
    "legislation, including protecting the nation's security and the citizen's dignity…
    paving the way for lifting the emergency law" by 25 April.
   1 April - Up to eight people are killed after government forces use live
    ammunition against protesters in the Damascus suburb of Douma.
    3 April - President Assad appoints Adel Safar, minister of agriculture in
    the last cabinet, to form a new government.
    4 April - Mohammad Khaled al-Hannus appointed governor of Dera’a.
    8 April - Security forces open fire on protesters across Syria killing as
    many as 26 people, mostly in Dera’a.
    10 April - Reports of shooting, many injuries and 200 arrests in the
    coastal town of Baniyas, 300km northwest of Damascus, following
    clashes in the area.
    11 April - Some 500 Damascus university students call for more
    political freedom. According to the Syrian Human Rights League,
    opposition figure, writer and journalist Fayez Sara, was arrested, as
    well as bloggers, activists and young opposition supporters. According
    to Human Rights Watch, there are reports of beatings and torture inside
          Discussion Questions
1. Is Syria's situation more similar to that of Egypt or that of Libya? Why?
2. How does the lack of freedom of press affect the protests?
3. Do cultural differences affect the credible commitment problem? How
4. What will happen if emergency law concessions are not made by April
5. How does the resource curse affect Syria?
6. Are these protests spurred more by economic unrest or by the want for
democracy? Or both?
7. How has Syria’s unique religious situation impacted current events?

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