The topic for my dissertation seeks to research the extent to which international and national lobby is involved in the current conflicts and hostile situation of Syria. In this topic I aim to assess all conditional aspects which may have led to the conflicts in Syria today, such as, comparing and contrasting both the internal and external sources involved in this issue. The internal sources being the lack of leadership traits in certain political representatives and mismanaging available sources in the country like gas and water and natural sources, and imposing high tax rates and tariffs, and on the other hand, the external factor involving Syria in maintaining relationships internationally and in order to maintain it imposing certain policies that go against the benefits of the general public of Syria. This dissertation will start by giving a brief overview of Syria, containing its geographical location, history and then will look deeply in its political system, its international relations and the influence of religion amongst differing nations and . My hypothesis is that Syria’s current situation is all in a need of a working democracy however with the presence of international lobby it has misguided them and influenced them negatively which has led to the bloodshed and dysfunctional system of Syria today.
1.1 Geographical location of Syria:
Syria is situated in the Middle East. It is the part of Southwestern Asia. Syria is surrounded by Iraq on East, on west it is surrounded by Mediterranean and Lebanon, on the North it is surrounded by Turkey, on the South It is surrounded by Jordan and on southwest Syria is bounded by Israel.
As Syria is located in between the Mediterranean Sea and the Arabian Peninsula so it has major variation in climate. It has desert lands, humid coastal area mountain ranges and the Euphrates Valley. (http://www.mapsofworld.com/syria/syria-location-map.html)
1.2 History of Syria:
Syria came into existence around 2500 BC; it has one of the most ancient civilizations on the earth. Its capital city Damascus is known as the fragrant city in history, and it is believed that this is the oldest constantly settled town in the earth. This is the one of the oldest city that has significant cultural and political hubs for the whole Arab World.
For endless centuries Syria has fought with and subsequently controlled by Egyptian, Roman and Ottoman empires. The economy of Syria faced worst conditions under Ottoman rules, and any effort that was made to stable the economic situation was destroyed by Mongols. After ending First World War the Ottoman rule has came to an end and influence of French has started. The French has maintained its rules and influence till the Syria at last achieved its independence in 1946. As recently independent country, Syria faced many problems in its initial times. One of the most horrible dilemmas for this country was lacked political stability. During one decade of its independence the Syria has experienced a series of military intervention in the political administration. Although facing severe empires Syria still has managed to uphold its prestige in the Arab world today by standing up to international lobby such as Israel and the United States. (Drysdale.A, Aloysius.R, 1991, Pg.128)
1.3 United Arab Republic:
Syria united with Egypt in 1958 to form United Arab Republic, but this union was over after 3 years in 1961 and the Syrian Arab Republic was reinstated. Syria has lost Golan Heights during Arab and Israel war in the year 1967, and both countries are trying to occasionally discuss its return to Syria since then. ((Drysdale.A, Aloysius.R, 1991, Pg.2)
1.3 Invasion in Lebanon:
In the year 1976 a civil war was broken in Lebanon. Syria invaded Lebanon in an attempt to help Maronite Christians, who were suffering with miserable condition because of civil war in Lebanon. And then Syrian troops were remained in Lebanon for 30 years after swiftly changing their sides upon their occupation.
As the civil war in Lebanon was continue for the next 15 years, Syria keep on trying to get control of Lebanon in these years. And finally Syria has to withdraw in the year 2005. Till 2005 Syria has kept itself engaged as a prominent force over Lebanon by involving itself heavily in Lebanese Politics.
1.4 Bashar al-Assad Regime:
In the year 2000, Syrian president Hafez al-Assad was passed away and the son of late president Bashar al-Assad was elected with 97% of the vote. The protest against political system was started in January 26, 2011 throughout Syria that demanded political reforms and in March 2011 Syria has been involved in civil conflict against President and its government (Neo-Ba’athist government). (Zisser.E, 2007, Pg. )
Chapter 2: Influence of International Lobby:
2.1 Six Days War:
In 1967 a group of Palestinians attacked some Israeli settlers in what became widely known as the six day war. The reasons given for the attack were that Palestinians were angry with Israel because of the check-points, transport costs, settlements and general dissatisfaction. Ever since the six day war the conflict between Israel and Palestine has escalated with many countries trying to use their ‘political diplomacy’ to end the conflict.
One problem with such diplomacy can be said to be ‘Islamic, entrenched loyalties’ and a mistrust of the ‘West’. The argument between Israel and Palestine is ‘Jewish settlements’, the Gaza strip, Golan Heights and rightful ownership of Jerusalem. (Broyles. M, 2004, Pg.9)
2.2 Palestinian Liberation Organization:
In the early days after the conflict emerged the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) – led by Yasser Arafat – said to be a Palestinian. Arafat had served in the British Army and therefore had military training and may have gained his leadership skills during his time serving Britain and having travelled to several countries as a soldier. Arafat throughout his leadership of the PLO was extremely vociferous about the ‘destruction of Israel’ and the role he would play in that endeavour. As a consequence the PLO had large sums of money donated from other Middle Eastern countries and others around the world that supported the Palestinians in what was thought of a plight. Israel on the other hand had been financially supported by Jews around the world including the ‘Jewish lobby’ in America.
2.3 Israel State:
The succession of American governments – since 1948 – had been vilified by many Arabs and Muslims because America ‘settled’ the Jews in Israel in what was once an American led military base, now known as the ‘state of Israel’. This vilification is largely due to the land and the fact that many of the Jews who settled in the state of Israel had travelled from Europe and therefore ‘different’ to ‘perhaps’ what and who had been known in that region. The Jews had a religion of their own and their adherence to Judaism was just as ‘passionate’ as any Muslim adherence to Islam.
There is no doubt that the Jews may have appeared strange and more European than any Arab – especially an Arab who had never travelled or been exposed to a European on any level. The Jews, on the other hand, would have been exasperated, tired, weary, fearful and hopeful having suffered, in Europe as they had. So, they probably had not expected to be attacked in 1967 – having settled in Israel – since 1948. This can be understood because it was 19 years since the Jews travelled from Europe to the ‘created’ state of Israel and having built an infrastructure – which may have been envied by others in the Middle East and elsewhere.
It may not be that the world had expectations of Jews in the Middle East; however, there must have been much curiosity about what the Jews would do when they got there.
Without genealogy, blood ties, and the Holy Bible it can be said ‘Historically’ that there had been many Jews in the Middle East, since Jerusalem is situated there. Therefore the argument of Jewish settlement in the Middle East can be viewed as a ‘Political’ argument as opposed to an ‘historical’ argument.
The factor of land and history concerning Israel and Palestine is largely an economical argument – especially since tourism brings a certain percentage of revenue. Israel has also settled Jews in the Golan Heights and the Gaza Strip. This has added fuel to the fire of the conflict between Israel and Palestine as well as added support through religious loyalties between Jews and Muslims around the world.
2.4 Islam and Judaism:
The strange paradox is being that Judaism and Islam preach love and peace – yet the two in the Middle East are in such conflict that it appears as though ‘never the twain shall meet’. The Israeli settlements in Palestine may be due to mistrust in the sense that successive Israeli governments may feel that they can keep a closer eye on the Palestinians in the Golan Heights and Gaza Strip – especially since the emergence of the suicide bombings that escalated to such a shocking degree in the 1970s and 1980s. This does not preclude Israel from extreme violence against Palestinians because Jewish soldiers were widely reported to have killed Palestinians in ‘random attacks’ including Palestinian children which has caused shock and dismay around the world. (Bunzl.J, 2004, Pg.28)
Israel and Palestine are two countries living side by side and there may have been economic dependencies on both sides, on the one hand Jewish settlements and on the other hand Palestinians relying on Jewish provided employment and transport as well as tourism – which, unbelievably, both countries enjoy to this very day. Tourism may be a result of morbid curiosity and or/general love of travel. The main point is that the Jewish settlers have ‘gone home’ and some Palestinian governments do not want to see them there.
Politically there are other dangers e.g. born out of the support of other countries for either country. This general support is blamed on anti Jewish or anti Muslim and religious loyalties cause those, who may not be as well informed as they ought to be, to take sides. This is the root of diplomatic disturbances between other Arab countries and those believed to be allied with Israel – the world media being the vehicle between the two
In today’s world it matters not which country supports which side because the ‘local’ conflict is of such that it requires much ‘patience’ and ‘tact’ and ‘necessary interference’ because the escalation goes against the grain of the ‘humanitarian principle’ of the many of the ‘world populace’ as opposed the two distinct groups.
We, the rest of the world, may wait with bated breath to see how the conflict is resolved though many of us may never see a ‘peaceful resolution’ in our lifetime – especially since the conflict began if the twentieth century and we have ‘evolved’ to the twenty first. The Syrian conflict was part of the so called ‘Arab spring’ and the desire for ‘democracy’ many Arab countries. It can therefore, be said that as Israel is ‘situated’ in the Middle East that Israel – as a democratic country – has contaminated Arab influences and that ‘modern technology’ has enabled many Arabs to see the ‘democratic light’ – especially through the ‘evil’ World Wide Web.
Chapter 3: Influence of Internal Lobby:
The Syrian government controlled by President Bashar al – Assad has initiated an aggressive and brutal crackdown on the protesters who were demanding economical prosperity, political freedom and social freedoms. This brutal and aggressive act of Syrian government has burst a nationwide rebellion. And eventually this rebellion led to a civil war in the country with armed rebel, many of the rebels were defected from the military. According to United Nations report 17,000 lives have been victimized and more than 170,000 people have been migrated to neighboring countries to seek refuge like Iraq, Jordan and Turkey.
3.1 Tunisian Revolution:
In January 2011, Tunisian revolution has resulted the uprising of rebels in Syria. Tunisian uprising stimulated the similar group of people in Syria to start rebellion against high unemployment, corruption, political domination, and against long time autocratic leaders.
3.2 Start of Violence:
The violence was broke out in March 2011 in Daraa, Syria when a group of youngsters including children and teenagers were arrested in allegation of writing against the political system and against corrupt politicians. Many of the people were killed after the crackdown of security forces against protesters. This state killing has just provoked the whole country. On every street and main roads the protesters have started burning government offices and a condition of chaos was just spread in the whole country.
3.3 Civil War:
In this agitation the president of Syria Bashar al – Assad was advised to leave his office and take precautionary measures to settle the current situation. Al – Assad committed to make immediate changes to settle down this condition and he demolished the state of emergency from the country, that was implemented for the last 48 years and according to this law the government and security agencies has right to detain anyone at anytime without having any charge against him. But this commitment has been revised after four days and government started to enforcing security forces into Daraa for an extensive attack on protestors. In a result of that the violence and rebellion has increased and spread throughout the country and this rebellion has become a full fledged civil war between the government and the armed resistance.