Syria Eastern World and Civilizations 2013-14
Map of Syria • Geographic location: www.sacouncil.com
Background Information • Syrian Republic is exactly 80 years old (established 1932) • Gained independence from France 1946 • Multi party democracy for 3 years 1946-1949 • USA sponsored military coup d'état led by HussniAlzaim • Political instability between 1949- 1954 • Multi party democracy 1954-1958 • Union with Egypt 1958-1961 • Military coup that brought the Baath party to power 1963 till NOW • Under Baath pretext Hafiz Assad military coup in 1970 • Hafez Assad ruled Syria for 30 years 1970-2000 • Bashar Assad inherited the Republic in 2000 and has been ruling Syria since then Syrian American Council www.sacouncil.com
Background Information • Prior to WWII Syria was a French colony, that gained independence • They constantly go through a cycle of leaders, who are backed by the army/ Muslim group, then overthrown by a queue • The Assad family has been in power since the 60’s • Hafez al-Assad was the “president” and groomed his first son to take the position • The first son died
Background Information • So they turned to Bashar… • Bashar inherited the republic after his dad died in 2000. • The Parliament amended the constitution, reducing the mandatory minimum age of the President from 40 to 34 to allow Bashar to become legally eligible for nomination • 97.29 % Referendum !! Syrian American Council www.sacouncil.com
Current Syria • About 110,000 Syrians have been killed; 1.5 million have had to flee due to war
Current Syria • There is still unrest in Syria and the use of chemical weapons has been brought to the forefront • Israeli forces are still attacking them • Rebels are fighting the government still, even killing government personal • Several investigations have showed that there still is the use chemical warfare in Syria cause hundreds of fatalities of men, women, and children • The US has expressed that they are ready to order a strike but the U.K. parliament has been fighting it • Syrians are clearly losing to the government • The country itself is falling apart, its losing unity and identity
Events in Syria 2013 • The U.N.'s refugee agency reports that over 1.5 million Syrians have left their country to escape the war • European Union nations end the arms embargo against the Syrian rebels (May 27, 2013 ) • The Obama Administration says that Syria has crossed a 'red line' with its use of chemical weapons, including the nerve agent sarin gas, against rebels • It will be stepping up its support of the rebels, who have been calling for the United States and others to provide arms need to battle al-Assad's forces (June 13, 2013 ) • Assad will not step down
Events in Syria 2013 • GhassanHittois now the prime minister of The National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces (March 19, 2013) • Ahmad AssiJarba is now the new leader of the Syrian National Coalition (July 6, 2013 ) • May 5 2013 Israeli forces conducted an airstrike in Syria targeted at a research a research facility in mountains near Damascus as well as one the previous week • In August a research team was sent into Syria to investigate the use of chemical weapons • Claims that chemical weapons were used on civilians in an attack outside of Damascus • 1,400 people were killed
Cause for the Syrian Revolution • Political instability has been a problem for Syria since 1946, when it gained its independence from France • A civil war has been long in the making ever since Assad came to power • In February 2011, 15 school students in Daraa were arrested due to painting a revolution slogan, “As-Shaab / Yoreed / Eskaat el nizam!” (meaning “The people/ want/ to topple the regime!”) on school walls • The schoolboys were taken into custody where they were beaten, burned, and had their fingernails pulled by a “secret police” headed by Gen. AtefNajeeb, a cousin of President Bashar al-Assad • March 15, 2011 - Activists call for a Day of Rage across Syria, inspired by other popular uprisings across the Arab world • In these demonstrations, Syrian addressed their unhappiness with Assad and were asking for democratic reforms
Cause for the Syrian Revolution • Government security forces didn’t like this, responded with: • Kidnapping • Torture • Killing- troops even opened fire on protesters who then fired back • OnMarch 18, 5 people were killed as security forces dispersed crowds in the southern town of Daraa(this was the first of many deadly attacks reported in the uprising). • Over the next days, Daraa was reported sealed off, with no one allowed to enter.
Cause for the Syrian Revolution • On March 25, troops opened fire on protesters in several cities and crowds clash on the streets of the capital of Damascus • Over 100,000 people reportedly marched in Daraaand about 20 protesters were reportedly killed • So the Syrian people decided to organize and arm themselves to fight back • The government really didn’t like this and so the military started destroying entire neighborhoods and towns • From a here, a war broke out and has been going on for about 2 years
If in 2011 someone told you that a civil war broke out in the US would you ever believe that it had it could have lasted for over 2 years? What would your response have been?
Key PlayersPresident Bashar al-Assad • President of Syria • When first brought to power, promised of reformations to get rid of corruption and modernize Syria • Provided support to militant groups such as Hamas, Hezbollah and Islamic Jihad • Has been proved that opposition to Assad’s regime have been imprisoned, tortured, and killed • In 2011 his brutal policies drove citizens over the edge • His regime has been the opposition of Syrian rebels
Key PlayersPresident Bashar al-Assad • When he came into power the people of Syria were ready for change • Hafez al-Assad was a very oppressive ruler • When Bashar came into power he wanted to make social and educational reforms • He wanted to rule a literate society, that was technologically advanced • Bashar was not raised to rule over people. To prepare him better, Hafez, his father, made sure he was surrounded by elders. Bashar would act as a figure-head, while the experienced seniors made the decisions.
Key PlayersPresident Bashar al-Assad • Hafez al –Assad was known to act violently when experienced adversity. • He crushed any up-risings that might thwart his success as a leader. • In 1982, the Hama Massacre left 2,000-5,000 people dead, including soldiers, civilians, and insurgents.
Key Players • Syrian Opposition • Group of rebels trying to overcome Assad’s regime • Syrian National Coalition for Opposition and Revolutionary Forces • Formed in 2012 • Lead by Ahmad Jarba as of July • Wanted to bring together people of different religious sects to oppose Assad • FSA (Free Syrian Army) • Violent opposition to Assad • There is no unity between the members except that they are all just men with guns • Lacked a good leader
Key Players • Jihadist groups • Terrorist group fighting against the government • Declared loyalty to Al-Queda, but haven't officially joined • US • Has voiced that they are supporting Syrian rebels but have done little about due to the fragile situation • Us has sent in some weapons to the rebels • Have held several investigations against Syrian government about the use of chemical weapons
Key Players • UN Security Council • split on how to intervene • Russia and China have blocked efforts by Western countries pass harsh sanctions. • Unable to come to an agreement on how to respond to August 2013 accusations of chemical weapons use by Assad's regime • Saudi Arabia and Qatar • Saudi Arabia is supplying weapons for its own personal reasons • Sunni Muslim Saudi Arabia hate Shia Iran, so they are using the war to weaken it • Qatar is attempting to befriend Syria in hope that one day they will be able to help Qatar
Main Events • April 21, 2011 - Al-Assad lifted the country's 48-year-old state of emergency • He also abolished the Higher State Security Court and issued a decree "regulating the right to peaceful protest, as one of the basic human rights guaranteed by the Syrian Constitution.“ • May 18, 2011 - The U.S. imposed sanctions against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and six other senior Syrian officials • "As a result of this action, any property in the United States or in the possession or control of U.S. persons in which the individuals listed in the Annex have an interest is blocked, and U.S. persons are generally prohibited from engaging in transactions with them."
Main Events • These sanctions however do not stop the violence in Syria • In August after several days of violence in the city of Hama, the epicenter of anti-regime protests, hundreds are left dead by Syrian security forces • Corpses are scattered in the streets and hospitals are overwhelmed with casualties • Even though the revolution is only five months in, several countries are already express their unhappieness with the events in Syria • The United States, Britain, France and Germany and the European Union demand that Assad resign, saying he is unfit to lead • Little do they know the worst is yet to come
Main Events • In response to the violence, several countries stopped imports from Syria • August 18, 2011 - The U.S froze Syrian government assets in the U.S. • Americans were unable to make new investments in the country and any U.S. transactions relating to Syrian petroleum products, among other things, were prohibited • September 2011 - The European Union banned the import of Syrian oil • imposed additional sanctions against Syria, due to "the continuing brutal campaign" by the government against its own people. • October 2, 2011 -The Syrian National Council was established • Due to the violence against citizens, Arab Leagues suspends Syria's membership in November 2011
Main Events • On December 19, 2011 Syria signed an Arab League proposal aimed at ending violence between government forces and protesters • It clearly has not had the effect they were hoping it to • For the next several months thousands s will be killed in various attacks against the rebels (aprox. 5,000) • It isnt till December 23, 2011tthat the next suicide attack is seen • Two car bombs explode near intelligence agency compounds in Damascus, killing 44 people • Exactly two weeks after this bombing in another explosion rips through a busy intersection and police bus in the capital, killing at least 25 people
Main EventsThe Violence Only Worsens • This violence only worsens as time goes on, so much so that on January 28, 2012 The Arab League had to suspend its mission in Syria as violence there continues • Over a 100 people had been killed in only THREE days • A few months later the (Feb. 6, 2012) The Obama administration also closed the US Embassy in Damascus and pulled all American diplomats out of Syria due to the violence • Several times the UN Security Council tried to intervene in Syria, but Russia and China continually vetoed all attempts
Main Events • March 15, 2012 - On the first anniversary of the start of the uprising, thousands march in a pro-Assad rally in Damascus • Tanks and snipers continue to besiege Daraa • More than 8,000 have been killed in the crackdown.
Main EventsUN Intervention • About 3 months later,The U.N. Security Council authorized up to 300 unarmed military observers for a 90-day mission in Syria • The monitors are tasked with observing a cease-fire that was supposed to go into effect April 12 • In addition, observers are tasked with supporting the implementation of Annan's peace plan, which also calls for access for humanitarian groups, the release of arbitrarily arrested detainees and the start of a political dialogue. • Annan’s peace plan: Kofi Annan's plan to end violence, give access to humanitarian agencies, release detainees, and start a political dialogue to address the concerns of the Syrian people • Unfortunately this plan had to be abandoned in June due to the danger of the mission
Main Events • In July, top Assad aides killed in bombing • The massacre of roughly 200 people in Tresmeh, a small Syrian farming village, ignites international criticism on July 13, with reports claiming heavy weaponry was used against civilians • The Free Syria Army responds five days later, on July 18, taking responsibility for the bombing of the National Security building in Damascus that killed top members of President Assad’s government. • On July 23, 2012 the first official reference to chemical weapons is made • The Syrian Foreign Ministry spokesman, Jihad Makdissi, threatens to use chemical and biological weapons against outside forces • "No chemical or biological weapons will ever be used, ... unless Syria is exposed to external aggression."
Main EventsUN Accuses Syria of War Crimes • August 2012- U.N. accuses Syria of war crimes • The U.N. Human Rights Council says the Syrian military committed war crimes in the massacre of more than 100 civilians (1/2 of them children) in the village of Houla in May 2012
Main EventsRebels Make A Significant Fight Back • Starting in November, the rebels begin to make a significant fight back as Syrian government weakens • Shoot down a military helicopter in November • Rebel make gains in Damascus's suburbs, taking over military bases as they close in on the city's airport against weakened Syrian government forces in December • In February a surge of rebel advances in Syria is being fueled by an influx of heavy weaponry in a renewed effort by outside powers to arm FSA
Main EventsMajor Bombing • A car bomb that detonated at a checkpoint near Baath party headquarters in Damascus sets off a huge explosion, killing dozens and wounding more than 200.
Main EventsChemical Weapon Accusations • April 2013 • Syria accused of using chemical weapons • Britain and France inform the United Nations that there is credible evidence that Syria has used chemical weapons against rebel forces.
Main EventsHezbollah Get Involved • Hezbollah fighters aid Syrian military • Hezbollah, a long-standing ally of Syria, sends thousands of men to support Assad forces and fight against the rebels in parts of the strategic border town of Qusair. • On June 5, 2013 Hezbollah forces succesfully help Syrian goverment capture Qusair
Chemical Weapons • Several investigations have proven that the Syrian government used chemical weapons against the people
Chemical WeaponsDates of Accused Chemical Weapon Use • Khan al-Assal, 19 March 2013 • Syria's state news agency Sana reported that "terrorists" had fired a rocket "containing chemical materials", killing 16 people in the Khan al-Assal area of Aleppo province. • Al-Otaybeh, 19 March 2013 • Video uploaded showing men having difficulty breathing after and attack on the village • Adra, 24 March 2013 • The Local Co-Ordination Committees, a network of activists in Syria, said in its summary for 24 March that two people had been killed and "dozens" injured when Adra was shelled with "chemical phosphorus" bombs.
Chemical WeaponsDates of Accused Chemical Weapon Use • Sheikh Maqsoud, 13 April 2013 • SOHR reported that two women and two children had been killed by poisoning from "gases from bombs dropped by an aircraft on the Sheikh Maqsoudneighborhood.” • Videos show patients experiencing symptoms associated with chemical weapons • Saraqeb, 29 April 2013 • Canisters were dropped above the town from helicopters, believed to be chemical weapons • Ghouta, 21 August 2013 • Activists claimed rockets with toxic agents were launched at the suburbs of the Ghoutaregion
Chemical WesponsGhoutta Attacks: 2013 • On August 21, 2013, a group of rebels attacked the Ghoutta suburbs, killing between 281 and 1,729 people. • The Syrian government has adamantly denied the use of chemical weaponry, but lab results confirmed the use of sarin nerve gas in weapons. • The region, near Mount Qasionhas been the target for Israeli airstrikes. • Independent analysts have proven that the weapons were launched from areas under government control.
Chemical WeaponsResponse to the Ghoutta Attacks • The Syrian Government says that Qatar shipped weapons to Libya and Syria • The citizens have started to protest, and have started raising awareness to the corrupt government • Russian defense experts have called the accusations “distorted” and “one-sided” • Experts claim that the weapons used during the attacks were created in a factory in 1967, and could have been stolen by outside terrorist groups
Chemical WeaponsSiege of Ghoutta • Rebels still control the city, but loyal troops are besieging east Ghoutta • Ghoutta is still under air raids and rocket attacks • Troops are stationed at the only two entrances to prevent people from entering or leaving the city • The citizens don’t have access to electricity, bread, milk, fuel, medicine and baby milk • They must rely on any products they are able to manually grow (it could take several weeks or more, to produce one serving of food)
Chemical WeaponsInvestigations • UN inspectors sent into Damascus to investigate use of chemical weapons in August 2013 • Concluded that 1,429 people were killed in an attack by the possible use of chemical weapons • In September, the UN finds 'convincing evidence' of chemical attack (nerve agent sarin) • In response, Russia proposes Syrian government give up chemical arms to avoid a attack by the US • October 1, 2013: Weapons inspectors enter Syria • A group of weapons inspectors from Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons arrived in Damascus to begin the task of overseeing the destruction of Syria's chemical weapons program.
Chemical WeaponsDestruction of Chemical Weapons • Syria destroys chemical weapons facilities • Syria has rendered its declared chemical weapons production facilities inoperable, according to the organization in charge of overseeing the nation’s chemical weapons disarmament. Do you think that this is really the end of Chemical Weapon use by Syria?
Who’s guilty of using chemical weapons? Government/ Assad Family’s argument Outside terrorist groups are challenging our power Rebels are using chemical weaponry to create international outrage and to involve the Westerners The People’s argument • The government is using chemical weaponry against their own people • The government is corrupt, and trying to get rid of anyone who opposes the power