The Role Of Protests In Syria

Submitted By rmmcclelland
Words: 3762
Pages: 16

In December of 2011, Time Magazine named The Protester as the Person of the Year. Governments and public dialogues the world over were changing rapidly as demonstrators made their voices heard. What started in Tunisia with a fruit vendors self-immolation became a world-wide phenomena of outrage at the status quo. The Arab Spring led to the ouster of dictators, protests against austerity in Europe during the financial crisis changed the way that Europeans thought about their government. In the United States, Occupy Wall Street led to a shift in both public and legislative dialogue. Time Magazine recognized the protester as leading the way for reforms and policy changes the world over.
In Syria, however, the protests have led to violent retaliation by the government, the army and security forces. Some Syrians feel that President Bashar al-Assad should step down, paving the way for what they see as necessary reforms, while others feel that his rule is the only thing holding Syria together. With his army and security forces firmly intertwined, the human rights violations continue unabated even during a cease-fire negotiated by the United Nations (UN) and the League of Arab States.
Governments outside the Middle East are taking a keen interest in the uprising that began in 2010. The United States along with 70 other countries have formed a group commonly known as ‘Friends of Syria’. These nations are working in concert to prevent the violent crackdown by authorities within Syria and take a keen interest in ending the 12 year rule of Bashar al-Assad. In particular the United States has been stirring the pot of dissent since 2006. The Arab Spring triggered the Syrian Uprising, but President al-Assad and his minority Alawite government are doing whatever it takes to hold onto power no matter the interventions of outside world powers.
The event that triggered the Arab Spring happened in Tunisia. A fruit vendor who set himself on fire inspired a revolution that started in the Middle East, but spread the world over. In December of 2010, Mohamed Bouazizi poured paint thinner on his body in outside of provincial headquarters in his home of Sidi Bouzid. His act was one of protest for his treatment that day in the square. According to reports from his family, a female inspector had confiscated the fruit from his cart. Selling fruit was his only means of income. When he tried to grab back the apples the inspector had taken, she slapped him, humiliating him. He took his paint thinner and walked to the government building and ignited himself. Bouazizi was burned over 90 percent of his body and died in the hospital a few days later. He became a martyr and face to rally to for Tunisia’s oppressed.
Bribery and bureaucracy go hand in hand in Tunisia. For 23 years Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali held the country in his dictatorial grasp. By January of 2011, less than one month later, he had fled the country as protests came to dominate the country. While Bouazizi and the vendors were the first to voice their dissatisfaction it wasn’t long before the uprising gained more formal organizations. Unions stepped in to demand justice for the fruit seller and protests took on themes of social and economic concern. As more people and organizations joined in, Ben Ali saw the writing on the wall and escaped with what citizens say was millions of dollars and “kilos of gold. The revolution in Tunisia touched off protest throughout the region. Egypt, Libya and Yemen all saw the ouster of powerful dictators as well. Protesters used social media as a tool to organize and spread the word of injustice throughout not only the region, but the world. What started off as civil resistance soon became violence as crackdowns from police and armies began in earnest. It was not long before protesters were engaging in the same behaviors. After 18 days of intensive demonstrations in Egypt, President Hosni Mubarek resigned after 30 years of