Syria: Ethnic Questions

April 24, 2011

Syria has entered into a tailspin of political chaos. The Assad regime has brutally cracked down on the protests of “ Great Friday “ causing much bloodshed and a lot of resentment among the populace.

This brutal repression has been widely condemned by the world community. But what is missing in the misty eyed analysis of the Syrian revolution is a proper understanding of the sectarian nature of the revolt.

Syrian population is composed of various ethnicities and religions . The Sunni Arabs dominate the population but there are sizeable numbers of Alawites, Druze , Christians and Kurds.

This is a mainly Sunni revolt against the minority Alawites. The revolt has thus far been restricted to mainly Sunni towns and has found little or no resonance in the Alawite , Kurd or Druze areas of the country .

The below map is a map of the old French protectorate of Greater Syria. During those times the boundaries of the various governorates corresponded with ethnicities. The State of Damascus and the State of Aleppo were predominantly Sunni Arab whereas the Druze and the Alawite had their own separate provinces , the State of Jabal ad-Druze and the state of Alawites respectively.

And this is a map showing the location of the protests currently happening of Syria.

map_of_revolustion 15.04.2011

As is plainly visible , that most the blood is spilled in the area of the old provinces of State of Damascus,  the Sunni heartland of the country. This essentially Sunni nature of the revolt is bad tiding for a country like Syria. If the regime falls, there could be widespread jockeying for power between the various ethnic groups which might very quickly descend into strife or worse, civil war.

It would be wrong to see the various uprisings in the Arab world as identical uprisings of the disgruntled youth against corrupt leaders. These revolts had very different meanings in different places. In Syria , it is about a natural correction in a distorted power structure. A correction which is propelled by the vested interests of people who have very different aims than the idealistic youths of the Arab street.


3 Responses to “Syria: Ethnic Questions”

  1. sunil Says:

    There are viewpoints that the uprising is a majorities way to ask for what might be rightfully theirs…
    Do you think a united front can emerge?
    If yes, is that to be achieved on the basis of caste/religion and would it survive the test of time…Your guess is as good as mine ….

  2. archittiwari Says:

    Although you are right in arguing that the majority has a right to stake claim to what is rightfully theirs, Middle East is replete with examples of how majority , once it is in power, has not respected the rgihts of the minorities. This fear is what has stopped the development of true multi ethnic or multi regional states in modern times in middle east. Syria’s immediate neighbour Lebanon has not been able to reach a state of a lasting compromise within its warring factions even after a long civil war.

    Syrian politicians would have a tough time in the post Assad era ( if it materializes? ) managing the aspirations of the various sects , something which might be not easy to achieve.

  3. Arjun Verma Says:

    The sectarian voilence is the result of skewed economic opportunities available to youths. The turmoil in this case would countinue (voilence fuels more voilence) and may even lead to disintegration of Syria. However, if different sects could come together (which seems far from likely) situation may turn for better in future. Until this happens, I guess Syria and its neighbouring countries will reamin on a powder keg.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: