Attached is a very thoughtful report on what is happening to Syria, written by a long-time observer of the Middle East.
La Spezia, Italia
by Patrick Seale
Agence Global, 24 Jul 200012
Once one of the most solid states in the Middle East and a key pivot of the regional power structure, Syria is now facing wholesale destruction. The consequences of the unfolding drama are likely to be disastrous for Syria’s territorial integrity, for the well-being of its population, for regional peace, and for the interests of external powers deeply involved in the crisis.
Above all, over the past decade Bashar al-Asad and his close advisers failed to grasp the revolutionary potential of two key developments — Syria’s population explosion and the long-term drought which the country suffered from 2006 to 2010, the worst in several hundred years. The first produced an army of semi-educated young people unable to find jobs; the second resulted in the forced exodus of hundreds of thousands of farmers from their parched fields to slums around the major cities. Herders in the north-east lost 85% of their livestock. It is estimated that by 2011, some two to three million Syrians had been driven into extreme poverty. No doubt climate change was responsible, but government neglect and incompetence contributed to the disaster.
These two factors — youth unemployment and rural disaffection — were the prime motors of the uprising which spread like wildfire, once it was triggered by a brutal incident at Dar‘a in March 2011. The foot-soldiers of the uprising are unemployed urban youth and impoverished peasants.
Phi Beta Iota: The preconditions and precipitants for revolutions have been well-understood since 1976. What is not understood by the public is that governments and other organizations generally do not make evidence-based decisions.