April of 2011 was the start of a very dark period in Syria. It began when the Syrians chose to host peaceful protests in efforts to challenge the dictatorship running the country. Shortly after these protest began, the government reacted, in a “not-so-civil” manner. They plotted on activists first with coercive acts and after those efforts showed little sign of retreat; they began to use more extreme tactics. Once the government saw that method was not working, they began killing their own citizens. They did not stop at the “normal” acts of violence; they also kidnapped, rapped, tortured and basically slaughtered all activists and members of their family. To make matters worse, they dumped the bodies on the side of the road to show the other citizens what would happen if they too decided to rebel. As you can imagine, these peaceful protestors shortly organized into rebel groups. To counteract these rebel groups, the Syrian government deployed the army across the country and gave orders to bomb neighborhoods and towns in hopes of terrorizing it’s people into submission.
Sectarian Rebalancing is said to be the main reason why the government reacted in such a barbaric way. This process basically means to shift powers between a particular sect or sects. Beginning from European colonial powers, Syria has always had unofficial or artificial borders that forced their people from different religious and ethnic backgrounds to live civilly amongst one another. Unlike popular belief, the government generally promoted one minority and ruled through that particular group. As stated before Syria is filled with different religions and ethnic groups, so one can concur that each of these groups formed militias in order to protect themselves from whoever became an enemy or a threat to their community. Another reason why this civil war began was because of the lack of sustainability of the Assad regime. Bashar al-Assad is the leader, dictator, of Syria. He took power in 2000 after his father died and never bothered to change any policies or strategies. The regime that was once notably known has now diminished and is growing increasingly stagnant. According to the Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia, “Geographically located at the crossroads of the world, an economic power with a stable government and thriving society, Saudi Arabia has come to be at the center of world affairs because the Kingdom has not restricted its role to defending and promoting its own national interests.”
What does this have to do with Saudi Arabia and their principal foreign policy problem? Saudi Arabia is now faced with being responsible for Syria. Their active sponsorship of the battles has helped in a new type of warfare for Syria. An article from the Foreign Policy Magazine briely explained Saudi Arabia’s role in Syria’s civil war. The author exclaimed, “Riyadh provided the rebels with 35 tons of weapons, though the kingdom failed to provide them with the better-quality arms the FSA's chief of staff had requested. Significantly, Liwa al-Tawhid joined the battles in Qusayr -- a significant step, because the militia had always worked closely, and almost exclusively, with the Qataris and the Brotherhood.”
Saudi Arabia is at the center of world affairs because they have a great amount of time invested with their allies. Since the Second World War, Saudi Arabia has multiple agreements with the United States. “In February 1945 President Roosevelt met King Ibn Saud, a meeting that was to demonstrate the importance of Saudi Arabia to US Middle East policy. On his return from the Yalta conference, the head of the US administration established a personal contact with the head of a state that was traditionally seen as within the zone of Britain’s imperial interests… On 5 April Roosevelt sent Ibn Saud a letter, promising not to do anything that might be hostile to the Arabs. He also guaranteed that there would be no fundamental change in US policy over Palestine without