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

Ebola Death Toll Nears 5,000 as Virus Advances

West Africa bears heaviest burden; Mali toddler’s death raises new fears More

Jordan’s Battle With Islamic State Militants Carries Domestic Risks

Despite Western concerns that IS militants are preparing a Jordanian offensive, analysts call the kingdom's solid intel a strong deterrent More

Asian-Americans Assume Office in Record Numbers

Steadily deepening engagement in local politics pays off for politicians like Chinese-American Judy Chu More

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.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Comanche Chief Quanah Parker’s Century-Old House Falling Apart

One of the most fascinating people in U.S. history was Quanah Parker, the last chief of the American Indian tribe, the Comanche. He was the son of a Comanche warrior and a white woman who had been captured by the Indians. Parker was a fierce warrior until 1875 when he led his people to Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and took on a new, peaceful life. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Cache, Oklahoma, Quanah’s image remains strong among his people, but part of his heritage is in danger of disappearing.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid