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Syria, Part 7: What Now?

Having examined the Assad regime, the anatomy of the opposition, the goals of the opposition, the international reaction, Syria’s relations with its neighbors, and the chronology of the conflict, all that is left to consider is the future of Syriaand its 16-month revolution. With Assad still claiming popular support and refusing to step down, the possibility of a rapid and peaceful solution seems unlikely. UN former Secretary General Kofi Annan is currently engaged in attempting to make peace in Syria, though his efforts seem futile, likely because the end result is unclear (New York Times). Though peace talks have not...

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Syria, Part 6: Syria and Its Neighbors

Syria, like any other nation, has a complex system of alliances and enmities with its neighbors, all of which have influenced, and in turn, been influenced by the ongoing revolution. Those relationships can determine the effect of the revolution on the countries that border Syria. This blog aims to explore the profound effect of Syria’s revolution on its neighboring countries and their relationships with Syria. Lebanon’s relationship with the Assad regime is one of the most complex of those in the Middle East. Because of its shared border with Syria, it has seen a large number of refugees from the...

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Syria, Part 5: The Goals

Ever since its publication in 1532, Niccolo Machiavelli’s The Princehas caused many debates over one of its most famous lines- “the ends justify the means.” This thesis has been embraced and rejected alike by a wide variety of monarchs, politicians, and leaders, and it can still be applied and utilized today. As one looks at Syria, one wonders if the ends the Syrian opposition is pursuing justify the horrid road it is currently travelling. A closer look at those ends and their progress towards being accomplished is below. Though the opposition is extremely diverse in their demands and philosophies, they...

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Syria, Part 4: The Opposition

The protests in Syria have gripped the nation for the past year. The spark from the revolutions of Egypt and Tunisiacaught in Syria, and quickly escalated into a full scale fire. Which groups are leading the protesters? Who are their members? Are they united in their efforts or are there many groups vying for power? How long have these groups existed? This blog aims to answer all of these questions and more. Before the protests began, there was a government ban on party gatherings which eliminated the possibility of the formation of these groups. The protests began spontaneously without one...

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Syria, Part 3: The International Reaction

The Arab Spring has caused a diverse response among a variety of nations and international bodies, inspiring sanctions or military reaction against dictators for some nations and steadfast support for the current leaders in others. While largely dependent upon the conflicted nation, some sort of reaction has always been provoked. Syria is no exception to this rule, and while the reaction has not been as pronounced as that for Libya, the international community has not remained silent. Which nations continue to support the Assad regime, and why? Why have the UN and NATO not taken as decisive of an action...

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Syria, Part 2: The Fighting

The Syrian Revolution began on March 18, 2011 in the city of Daraa, where schoolchildren had been arrested for writing slogans inspired by the Egyptian and Tunisian Revolutions on the walls of their school. Security forces shot on the crowd that was peacefully protesting their arrest and killed four, which triggered more widespread protests (Al Jazeera). These included the “Day of Dignity” in Damascuswhere protestors demanded the release of political prisoners, where no blood was spilled, but there were 35 arrests (Washington Post). In response to these protests, Assad blamed conspirators such as al-Qaeda, but lifted the 48-year-old state of...

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Syria, Part 1: The Regime through 2011

The demonstrations and violence in Syria are an ongoing cause of concern for the international community. Throughout the past year, violence has escalated from peaceful protests inspired by the Egyptian and Tunisian revolutions to a continued conflict costing thousands of lives. What caused this revolution? What have some of the pivotal events in the conflict been? Who leads the opposition? Where should the Syrian people hope to go from the current situation? This series of blog posts will explore the Syrian Revolution and aims to answer all these questions and more. The al-Assad family has held power in Syria since...

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What’s Next for Yemen?

The political situation in Yemen is quickly deteriorating and it took a dramatic turn earlier this week when the President was injured in an attack at the palace mosque. He was flown to Saudi Arabia and at this point it uncertain whether or not he will return to Yemen. The attack was the culmination of months of rival tribes vying for power and intense government opposition. The public has been calling for the president’s resignation and is anxiously awaiting the outcome of this most recent development. The situation is even more pressing since the president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, is an...

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Egypt’s Revolution

Last week the world witnessed the downfall of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak after thirty years as Egypt’s autocratic ruler. This astonishing event was the culmination of an 18 day demonstration in Tahrir Square, also known as Liberation Square, carried out by all strata of the Egyptian population. Chants of the young and old, the rich and poor, the secular and religious, all combined as one voice to demand the demise of Mubarak’s reign. After his resignation, the Supreme Military Council took over the country and dissolved the Parliament, suspended the Constitution, and called for elections within the next six months....

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Another Try?

Israeli and American newspapers are reporting that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has agreed to a 90-day freeze on residential building in the West Bank. This is a crucial development in the stalled peace talks and will provide the impetus needed to resume the direct talks which fell apart earlier this fall. The 90-day period will be non-renewable and is hopefully enough to bring the Palestinians back to the negotiating table, even though the freeze will not include settlements in East Jerusalem. The most recent round of negotiations (direct talks) broke down in September after the ten month building moratorium...

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The Floods in Pakistan

Last month, Pakistan’s monsoon season announced itself with the worst flooding the country has seen in almost a decade. The floods have now enveloped most of the country and affected over 4 million people. 1600 citizens have died while thousands more are still stranded without food or drinking water (The New York Times). This natural disaster will continue to adversely affect the Pakistani people and their economy for years to come. To deal with this catastrophe, the United States, the United Nations, and the Pakistani government must take action. There are four major aspects to this situation and each must...

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The Gaza Flotilla and Gilad Shilit

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is meeting with President Obama this week to discuss the sanctions on Iran, the peace process, and the Gaza blockade. This meeting will be a stark contrast from their most recent one in which relations between the two leaders were reported to be tense and no photos were taken. This is an opportunity for both sides to express their positions and to show the international community that their diplomatic relationship is still intact despite policy disagreements. After last month’s flotilla incident and the harsh criticism that Israel received in the aftermath, Israel has put forth...

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