Syria is back in the news again this morning. The Jerusalem Post reports: “Seven people were reported dead Tuesday in Syrian clashes between pro-Assad loyalists and anti-regime protesters demanding his removal.”This is now an almost daily occurrence. The uprising that President Assad keeps trying to stamp out won’t be stamped out.
Why does it matter?
Last month, New York Times columnist Tom Friedman provided the best four paragraph summation of why Syria matters that we’ve seen before or since. This is what he wrote:
This is a fight to the death now — and it’s the biggest show on earth, for one very simple reason: Libya implodes, Tunisia implodes, Egypt implodes, Yemen implodes, Bahrain implodes — Syria explodes. The emergence of democracy in all these other Arab countries would change their governments and have long-term regional implications. But democracy or breakdown in Syria would change the whole Middle East overnight.
A collapse or democratization of the Syrian regime would have huge ramifications for Lebanon, a country Syria has controlled since the mid-1970s; for Israel, which has counted on Syria to keep the peace on the Golan Heights since 1967; for Iran, since Syria is Iran’s main platform for exporting revolution into the Arab world; for the Lebanese Shiite militia Hezbollah, which gets rockets from Iran via Syria; for Turkey, which abuts Syria and shares many of its ethnic communities, particularly Kurds, Alawites and Sunnis; for Iraq, which suffered from Syria serving as a conduit for jihadist suicide bombers; and for Hamas, whose leader sits in Damascus.
Because Syria is such a keystone nation, there is a tendency among its neighbours to hope that the Assad regime could be weakened — and therefore moderated — but not broken. Few dare trust the Syrian people to build a stable social order out of the ashes of the Assad dictatorship. Those fears may be appropriate, but none of us get a vote. Only the Syrians do, and they are voting with their feet and with their lives for the opportunity to live as citizens, with equal rights and obligations, not pawns of a mafia regime.
More than in any other Arab country today, the democracy protestors in Syria know that when they walk out the door to peacefully demand freedom they are facing a regime that has no hesitancy about gunning them down. Lebanese have been surprised by their sheer bravery.
You can read the whole thing here.
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