29 October, 2020

A Puzzling Syrian Spring

Making sense of the W. Asian fragment in the light of offshore oil

Illustration by Sorit
A Puzzling Syrian Spring

It wasn’t easy to fit Syria into a pattern since the time Mohammed Bouazizi, a Tunisian street vendor, ignited Arab change by setting himself afire on December 17, 2010. Since then, the Arab world divided itself into three distinct theatres of change. First were the North African states, stretching from Morocco to Egypt, having a Mediterranean face but an African depth too. The turn of events in Egypt was tectonic. The second theatre was Libya, where Muammar Gaddafi walked through minefields laid by the Anglo-French combine. This has now turned into a fox hunt. The most violent theatre was a Shia arc around the Saudi realm—Yemen, with its Zaidis and Huthis (Al Qaeda, too), Bahrain (80 per cent Shia), Kuwait (30 per cent) and Iraq (65 per cent), the last three converging on the Saudi oil fields in Dahran, Dammam and Qatif, all Shia-dominated.

In this scenario, Damascus was more like pre-occupation Baghdad, with the army and the Ba’ath socialist party cadres maintaining order. In Iraq, though, the US occupation, focused...



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