by Chris Bodenner
Ammar Abdulhamid doesn't see a surge in Syria:
A "day of rage" called for by Syrian opposition members living abroad and scheduled for last Friday and Saturday came and went: the only mass presence detected on the streets of major cities in Syria was that of security forces. ...
Syria is definitely not Tunisia or Egypt.
True, the country suffers from the same problems of unemployment, inflation, corruption, nepotism and authoritarian rule, but structurally Syria is defined by additional facts that need to be taken into account.
Fact 1: Syria has a rather heterogeneous population divided along national, religious, sectarian, regional and socioeconomic lines. The ruling regime survives by manipulating mutual suspicions between these groups and their complex history.
Syria's ruling family, the Assads, come from the minority Alawite sect, which makes up less than 10% of the population. The elite striking units within the country's armed forces, especially the Republican Guard, have a membership drawn almost exclusively from the Alawite community. These units are tasked primarily with ensuring the survival of the ruling regime and have no other national agenda to speak of.
But Syrian President Bashar al-Assad did recently promise political reforms, so, if he keeps his word, the Tunisian revolution seems to have had some indirect influence in speeding up progress in Syria. Meanwhile, Naseem Tarawnah checks in on the situation in neighboring Jordan:
[U]nlike Egypt and Tunisia, the protests that took place in Jordan in the past few weeks, most of which have died down now, were not lead by the youth but rather by much older segments. Even in the few protests where I actually saw young people, typically in Amman, they were not playing the starring role we’re seeing youth play out in Egypt or Tunisia. Supporting roles at best, and often times completely absent in towns like Karak or Irbid. While they are part of the educated but unemployed group, it is a whole other generation that is out there making demands. This older crowd finds its origins in various entities, parties, interest groups and unions, most of which the depoliticized youth population generally do not belong to or care to associate with. I’d argue that had the youth genuinely partaken in these recent protests, we would have seen them last a lot longer, and triple in numbers. And so naturally I wonder, with all this in mind: if Tunisia wasn’t enough to do it, will Egypt be the spark for the youth in this country?