News / Middle East

    Continuing Violence in Syria Raises Fears About Future

    Syrian workers inspect the site of an explosion outside a military security building, one of two sites of bomb blasts in Syria's northern city of Aleppo, February 10, 2012.
    Syrian workers inspect the site of an explosion outside a military security building, one of two sites of bomb blasts in Syria's northern city of Aleppo, February 10, 2012.
    Jeff Swicord

    The failure of Western and Arab League efforts to persuade the Syrian government to end its violent crackdown against protesters is raising new fears of what lies ahead.

    The images out of Syria are frightening.

    And so far, President Bashar al-Assad has not taken steps to de-escalate the crisis.

    That worries Dr. Gerrold Post at George Washington University. He is director of the school's Political Psychology program and has briefed U.S. presidents on the psyche of world leaders.

    “His [Bashar al-Assad] only root seems to be one of force. And that is dangerous and there is no good ending to this other than increasing violence,” said Post.

    The foundation of Assad's regime stems from his father, Hafez, who ruled Syria with an iron fist for three decades.

    The Assads are from the minority Alawite sect of Shia Muslims. Radwan Ziadeh, director of the Syrian Center for Political and Strategic Studies in Washington, said the regime’s primary function is Alawite control of the country.

    “The regime depends on the security apparatus in Syria, which is heavily controlled by the Alawites. And this creates such a kind of network among the Alawite officers and security officers to be actually loyal to themselves,” said Ziadeh.

    Bashar al-Assad was not his father’s first choice to succeed him. Trained as an optomologist in London, he was considered too timid. His father favored his more aggressive older brother Basil, who was killed in a car accident. After his brother's death, Bashar was summoned back to Damascus to be schooled as Syria’s future leader.

    “And the degree to which the extent of violence that he is conducting is to say to his father’s inner circle and the military leaders, 'I can do this just as well as my father. I can live up to his image,'” said Post.


    Watch related video of VOA's JulieAnn McKellogg's interview with Syrian activist in Homs

    In 1982, Hafez al-Assad crushed a rebellion in the city of Hama. Amnesty International puts the death toll at between 10,000 and 25,000. Post said that left an impression on Bashar al-Assad.

    “One of the complicating issues for him is there really is no model for reconciliation… how to handle conflict other than the model provided with the so-called Hama rules in 1982,” said Post.

    Some analysts believe Assad is not fully in control of the current crisis. They say his advisers, some from his father’s time, counsel against compromise.

    “This is why we see when the uprising started it is very difficult for Bashar Assad to do any concessions or meaningful reforms. Because they know that any step they do, that the whole regime will collapse,” said Ziadeh.

    The result is an increasing level of violence and a civilian population increasingly estranged from a nation's leader.

    Join the conversation on our social journalism site - Middle East Voices. Follow our Middle East reports on Twitter and discuss them on our Facebook page.

    You May Like

    Ethiopia's Anti-terrorism Law: Security or Silencing Dissent?

    Yonatan Tesfaye was detained in December 2015 on charges under Ethiopia's Anti-Terrorism Proclamation; eleven statements from his Facebook page were used as evidence

    Egypt Orders Trial for Journalists Charged With Harboring Reporters

    Order targets journalists' union chief Yehia Qalash, Khaled al-Balshy and Gamal Abdel Rahim for allegedly spreading false news, harboring fugitive colleagues

    Nigerian Oil Production Falls as Militant Attacks Take Toll

    Country no longer Africa's petroleum king due to renewed militancy in its oil-producing region

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    New Chapter for Tunisia's Ennahdai
    X
    Lisa Schlein
    May 31, 2016 1:56 PM
    Tunisia’s moderate Islamist Ennahda party says it is separating its religious and political activities in a broader bid to mark its so-called Muslim Democratic identity. The move appears to open a new chapter for a party that bounced back from the political wilderness of Tunisia’s pre-revolution days to become a key player in the North African country, and a member of the current coalition government. From Tunis, Lisa Bryant takes a look at how Tunisians are viewing its latest step.
    Video

    Video New Chapter for Tunisia's Ennahda

    Tunisia’s moderate Islamist Ennahda party says it is separating its religious and political activities in a broader bid to mark its so-called Muslim Democratic identity. The move appears to open a new chapter for a party that bounced back from the political wilderness of Tunisia’s pre-revolution days to become a key player in the North African country, and a member of the current coalition government. From Tunis, Lisa Bryant takes a look at how Tunisians are viewing its latest step.
    Video

    Video New Mobile App Allows Dutch Muslims to Rate their Imams

    If a young Dutch-Moroccan app developer has his way, Muslims in the Netherlands will soon be able to rate their imams online. Mohamed Mouman says imams rarely get feedback from their followers. He believes his app can give prayer leaders a better picture of what's happening in their communities — and can also keep young people from being radicalized. Serginho Roosblad reports from Amsterdam.
    Video

    Video Moscow Condemns NATO Plans to Beef Up Defense in Eastern Europe, Baltics

    NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said Monday an upcoming "landmark summit" will enhance the alliance's defensive and deterrent presence in eastern Europe and the Baltics. He is visiting Poland ahead of the NATO Summit in Warsaw. Zlatica Hoke reports
    Video

    Video Tech Startups Showcase Wares at Amsterdam Conference

    More than 20,000 tech enthusiasts, entrepreneurs and lovers of digital technology came together in Amsterdam recently at the Next Web Conference to discuss the latest developments in digital technology, look to the future and, of course, to connect. In recent years, there has been an explosion of so-called startup businesses that have created devices and applications that have changed the way we live; but, as Serginho Roosblad reports for VOA, there are pitfalls for such startups as well.
    Video

    Video US Military's Fallen Honored With Flags

    Memorial Day is a long weekend for most Americans. For some, it is the unofficial start of summer -- local swimming pools open and outdoor grilling season begins. But Memorial Day remains true to its origins -- a day to remember the U.S. military's fallen.
    Video

    Video Rolling Thunder Rolls Into Washington

    The Rolling Thunder caravan of motorcycles rolled into Washington Sunday, to support the U.S. military on the country's Memorial Day weekend
    Video

    Video A New Reading Program Pairs Kids with Dogs

    Dogs, it is said, are man's best friend. What some researchers have discovered is that they can also be a friend to a struggling reader. A group called Intermountain Therapy Animals trains dogs to help all kinds of kids with reading problems — from those with special needs to those for whom English is a second language. Faiza Elmasry has more on the New York chapter of R.E.A.D., or Reading Education Assistance Dogs, in this piece narrated by Faith Lapidus.
    Video

    Video Fan Base Grows for Fictional Wyoming Sheriff Longmire

    Around the world, the most enduring symbol of the U.S. is that of the cowboy. A very small percentage of Americans live in Western rural areas, and fewer still are cowboys. But the fascination with the American West is kept alive by such cultural offerings as “Longmire,” a series of books and TV episodes about a fictional Wyoming sheriff. VOA’s Greg Flakus recently spoke with Longmire’s creator, Craig Johnson, and filed this report from Houston.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video F-35 Fighter Jet Draws Criticisms as Costs Mount

    America’s latest fighter plane, the F-35, has been mired in controversy. Critics cite cost, faulty design, and the attempt to use it to fill multiple roles. Even the pilot’s helmet is controversial. VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports from New York.
    Video

    Video Concerns Over Civilian Suffering as Iraqi Forces Surround Fallujah

    Thousands of residents are trapped inside the IS-held city ahead of a full scale Iraqi offensive aimed at retaking it.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora