Making Sense of the Syrian Uprising

The Syrian uprising began as soon as Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak was forced to resign.  Bashar al-Assad, president of Syria, came to power in 2000, with the transition from father to son marking Syria as the first Arab republican hereditary regime.  It was an especially unpropitious time -- not only was Bashar confronted with an international environment that his father could not have prepared him for, but the domestic patronage system, on which his power and the country's stability partly depended, was in danger of breaking down. Syrian stronghold: the rise of Alawites Syria's demographics are complex, making it a difficult country to rule based on ethnicity.  It is believed that three-fourths of the country's roughly 22 million people are Sunnis, including most of the Kurdish minority in the northeast.  Given the volatility that generally accompanies sectarianism, Syrian leaders deliberately avoid conducting censuses on religious demographics.  For...(Read Full Article)

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