In 2011 a protest movement was begun in the Middle East in an attempt to overthrow the authoritarian regime that had outlived its usefulness. While this is an oversimplification it strikes to the heart of the matter as to why several countries became rather vocal about their desires for change. Unfortunately for this movement there was no solid agreement between parties that could help to decide how the current regime should be replaced. Without an established regime of its own, the Arab Spring was doomed to failure.
Countries such as Jordan, Morocco, Syria, Libya, Egypt, Tunisia, and even Yemen were drawn into this conflict as they agreed upon the fact that change was needed. Beyond that however there was little if any agreement upon anything. Syria and Libya found themselves drawn into an unfortunate civil conflict while Jordan and Morocco voiced their desire to transition to a constitutional monarchy (Manfreda, 2011). This would have allowed the countries to still fall under the rule of a monarch, but at the same time impose limitations upon how much power their leader possessed. After living for so long under corrupt and sometimes unstable rulers it was only natural to want to limit the power of their leaders.
Among the nations that were involved with the Arab Spring, Syria has been hit the hardest of any. The civil war that was the result of escalation between those who served the government and those who opposed its president, Bashar al-Assad, came not long after the pro-democracy protest had begun. When government troops arrested and tortured several teenagers who were caught spray-painting revolutionary tags on the wall of a school. Had that been the only act committed the following civil war might not have been so quick to begin.
Unfortunately the troops opened fire into the crowd that had gathered to watch the arrest
of the teenagers, and as a result hundreds of thousands of angry citizens were seen taking to the
streets. The general demand was the formal resignation of President Bashar al-Assad. After nearly four and a half years of a horrible civil war that tore the country apart (Middle East, 2016), Syrian refugees began to flee their home country for fear that they would be killed by accident or association. The death toll as of 2015 had reached roughly a quarter million that included innocent civilians caught in the crossfire as well as soldiers and rebels.
Politically, Syria has been torn apart by the fighting, as the rebels and the government they fight entered into a bloody conflict that has claimed millions upon millions of lives to date. The fighting has become so bad that refugees have flooded several other countries in an attempt to flee the horror. Neither side is innocent as torture has been used by both, and massacres have been instigated in the streets. Fear rules the battleground that Syria has become, and the citizens that have not fled live in constant terror that they might perish any day.
What is truly unfortunate is that the civil unrest has given way to the rise of terrorism within the country, as well as several others. Within Syria the al-Qaeda branch al-Nusra Front (Attkisson, 2015) formed shortly after the war began in 2011, striking out to claim their own territory. Their blatant use of the civil war in Syria to stake their claim has created mass confusion and had the effect of adding another iron to the raging inferno that the Middle East has become. With a president that refuses to resign or even bend, a rebel force that openly and continually opposes the established government, and a group of Islamic radicals now vying for territory, there is no doubt that Syria has become a war zone where law is just barely recognized, if at all.
Considering that there is no central theme to rally around, it is no wonder that each
faction continually fights to be heard. The legitimate if morally corrupt government of Syria
does not wish to change. President al-Assad will not likely step aside unless he can no longer
continue the fight, and the rebels will no longer accept his rule, so there exists an impasse that
requires a strong, controlling presence to step in and take charge. Unfortunately al-Qaeda does not have a proven track record of settling disputes with anything less than violent fanaticism.
It is difficult to know who to feel is the true instigator in this extremely violent and ugly war, though many times it appears the only innocents are those who seek to flee the country. Refugees from Syria that flood into neighboring countries are those who have for reasons of survival abandoned their war-torn homeland for greener pastures. To date Syria has not been completely settled, and the threat of terrorism is as it has always been, persistent and always poised to rear its ugly head once more. Even with Russia giving aid to the legitimately recognized government (Cockburn, 2015), Syria remains a country divided by an impasse that refuses to be settled.
The unfortunate truth is that no one can decide upon terms that can be met by the rebels attempting to unseat President al-Assad and the government itself. There is no centralized agreement or ruling body that can bring the entire mess to a halt. Added to this already volatile situation, terrorism in the form of ISIS and al Qaeda have taken advantage of the fear and mistrust that already exist, doing their best to continue the bloodshed to further their own agenda.
The Arab Spring unwittingly opened a door for terrorism to come racing through. The civil war that rages in Syria is one born ignorance and a desperate plea to end the corruption of an outdated regime. The lack of any proper, centralized leadership has forced the government to take actions that have proven quite violent and unexpectedly fatal. The fallout from the civil war that resulted from Syria’s desperate plea for change has given way to a new type of outcry, one that does not desire change so much as fear. Given time and a lack of definitive leadership, there might not be much left of Syria to change.
Attkisson, S. (2015). How Arab Spring Opened the Door to Terrorism’s Ugly March. The Daily
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Cockburn, P. (2015). Syrian civil war: No end in sight for terrorism or the refugees fleeing to
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Manfreda, P. (2011). Definition of the Arab Spring. About.com. Retrieved from
Middle East (2016). Syria: The story of the conflict. BBC News. Retrieved from