Syria

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After four hundred years of indecisive Ottoman rule, and three decades fighting the mandate of the French, the many diverse peoples of Syria finally could call Syria their own. Yet, independence was not synonymous with peace. Without a common enemy, the Syrian people remembered their differences and began to squabble amongst themselves. Even now, seven decades after the formation of the Syrian Arab Republic, peace is yet but a far-flung dream. In June of 2000, then-President Hafez al-Assad, of the previous Ba’ath Party, passed away and his title was left, through an unfortunate accident, in the hands of his second, less determined son, Bashar al-Assad. With his death came strife. Powerful clashing forces previously kept quashed by Ba’ath Party Rule began to emerge yet again, and Syria was plunged into conflict. The Syrian civil war crisis, commonly taken to have begun with the rule of Bashar al-Assad, had roots put down much further back, in the previous Ba’ath Party Ruling, fed by external pressures, both from nature and foreign powers, roots of dissent that only came to blossom during the rule of a weak president who was never intended, nor was powerful enough, to lead.
The Ba’ath Party, the name Arabic for “Renaissance” or “Resurrection” (Polk), was founded in 1947 by Michel Aflaq, a Syrian teacher whose views on nationalism gained him support from Arabs across the area. (“Profile”) Quickly merging with other parties, the now-Arab Socialist Ba’ath Party became real competition to its opposition as its popularity surged among students of the nation. Yet, even as Ba’athism became the ruling Party, power seized by the military sectors of the Party, there were still conflicts. The Military Committee, incidentally led by a young H...

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...nsions that had been brewing steadily under a thin veneer of totalitarian control. The civil war exploded. Many of the “retired” members of Hafez’s guard defected, and Bashar prepared for battle.
The common misconception is that it was Bashar al-Assad’s fault for the rebellion. That he was somehow entirely responsible for the state of affairs in his country. The country forced upon him by a dying father. Bashar never wanted to lead. That was Bassel’s job. Yet, with Bassel dead, Bashar had no choice. And, when he started cracking-down on protests, everything went downhill. There is no singular reason for the civil war in Syria. It’s a culmination of reasons stretching back past the al-Assad’s, past the Ba’ath Party, even. Syria has been hotly contested and conflicted for centuries. It will take more than a couple half-hearted reforms and a weak leader to change that.

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