Syria • fertile plains, high mountains and deserts • home to diverse ethnic and religious groups, including Kurds, Armenians, Assyrians, Christians, Druze, Alawite, Shia and Arab Sunnis (majority of the Muslim population) • independence from France in 1946 • periods of political instability • united with Nasser’s Egypt from 1958-1961 • broke away b/c it did like Egyptian dominance
Syria • Baath party takes control in 1963 with Alawite military commanders • Hafez al-Assad becomes president in 1970 • brings stability, but also repression • strong anti-Western policy • tens of thousands estimated killed in the suppression of 1982 uprising of the Muslim Brotherhood in Hama • 1967 loses Golan Heights to Israel defeat in the Six Day War • interferes in Lebanon politics during its civil war • support anti-Israel armed groups - most notably Hezbollah and the Gaza-based Palestinian group Hamas
Syria • following death of Hafez al-Assad, son Bashir al-Assad succeeds • brief period of relaxation of repression but real political freedoms and reform of the state-dominated economy never happens • increased reliance on Iran (shi’a) and international isolation • December 17, 2010 – self-immolation of young man in Tunisia sets off Arab Springs • protests across Arab world follow resulting in overthrow of gov’ts in Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, et. al.
Syria • March, 2011 - protests in Damascus and the southern city of Deraa demand release of political prisoners • security forces shoot a number of people dead in Deraa • days of violent unrest steadily spread nationwide • government announces some conciliatory measures in an attempt to settle down unrest • Assad releases dozens of political prisoners • lifts the 48-year-old state of emergency • accuses protesters of being Israeli agents.
Syria • June - Army tanks enter Deraa, Banyas, Homs and suburbs of Damascus in effort to crush anti-regime protests • refugees start to pour over Turkey border • November - Arab League suspends Syria, accused of failing to implement an Arab peace plan imposes sanctions • violence worsens by end of year • February, 2012 - Russia and China block a UN Security Council draft resolution on Syria • government steps up the bombardment of Homs and other cities
Syria • June - Assad says Syria faces “real war” civil war • Free Syria Army – who are they? • December - US joins Britain, France, Turkey and Gulf states in formally recognizing Syria’s opposition National Coalition as “the legitimate representative” of the Syria Look at what Obama said in August of 2012
Syria “I have, at this point, not ordered military engagement in the situation. But the point that you made about chemical and biological weapons is critical. That’s an issue that doesn’t just concern Syria; it concerns our close allies in the region, including Israel. It concerns us. We cannot have a situation where chemical or biological weapons are falling into the hands of the wrong people. “We have been very clear to the Assad regime, but also to other players on the ground, that a red line for us is we start seeing a whole bunch of chemical weapons moving around or being utilized. That would change my calculus. That would change my equation.”
Syria • April, 2013 - US and Britain demand investigation into reports government forces used chemical weapons • EU nations arm rebels • - rebels and Western governments • accuse pro-Assad forces of using • chemical weapons that killed more • than 300 people near Damascus • Syrian government blame the rebels • Obama says “limited” strike needed to degrade Damascus’ chemical weapons capability • Russia and China warn against any attack on Syria.
Syria Now What??
Your Four Options Use the Might of the U.S. Military to End the Assad Regime Carry Out Limited Strikes Against the Syrian Military Work with the International Community to End the Civil War 4. Stay Out of Syria