Syria. According to CountryAAH, the total population in Syria is 17,500,669 people in 2020. About 700 Syrian intellectuals signed a petition in February, demanded that the state of emergency introduced over 40 years ago be abolished, that all political prisoners should be released and that Syrians forced into exile would be allowed to return. The initiative for the call came from a group called the Committees for the Defense of Democratic Freedoms and Human Rights. The group’s leader Akhtam Naisse was arrested on April 13 and accused of “disseminating false information and planning a revolution”.
A total of about 270 political prisoners were reported to have been released at various times during the year since being pardoned by President Bashar al-Asad. Among those released were Islamists and members of the banned Iraqi Bath Party. In prison there were more than 600 political prisoners in December.
At least 30 people were killed in mid-March in riots in the country’s northeastern, Kurdish parts. The violence began in connection with a football match on March 12 between a Kurdish and an Arab team in the city of Qamishli but soon spread to other nearby cities. According to Kurdish sources, hundreds of Kurds were arrested on March 15 in Damascus.
The United States imposed a trade embargo on May 11 that banned almost all US exports to Syria. The embargo was a reaction that, according to the United States, Syria supports terrorism and attempts to develop weapons of mass destruction. On 2 September, the UN Security Council adopted a resolution calling for “foreign forces”, ie. Syria, would leave Lebanon.
As the first Syrian head of state, al-Asad visited neighboring Turkey on January 6-7. He and his Turkish colleague Ahmet Necdet Sezer talked about his shared interest in preventing the Kurds in Iraq from establishing greater independence.
Spurred by the rebellions in Tunisia and Egyptin January-February 2011, demonstrations also erupted in Syria. The demonstrations centered in Daraa, southern Syria, where the Muslim Brotherhood stood strong. The fraternity had not forgotten the massacre of 1982 that cost 10-25,000 people their lives. The Syrian regime reacted staggeringly to the protests. In the first few months it showed some kindness. On March 22, the governor of Daraa was fired, and on March 29, the entire government was fired. A government led by Adel Safar was launched in April and at the end of the month it abolished the hated exemption legislation that had otherwise been in force since 1982. However, the US and European colonial states saw an opportunity to overthrow the government of Damascus and step up the pressure. In May, the United States and the EU passed sanctions on Syria. Both had launched a conquest war against Libya two months earlier under the auspices of a UN Security Council resolution, but Russia and China blocked a similar sanction against Syria, as both major powers acknowledged that the West’s purpose was conquest. Consequently, the conflict in Syria was expanded without open Western military intervention.
Syrian society was gradually divided religiously and economically. The Baath regime is predominantly based on the Alawit sect, which has given the country’s Sunni majority a secondary political function. The regime therefore has full support from the Alawites, but also from the Christian minority, who fear being subjected to ethnic cleansing, as happened in Iraq after the US conquest of the country. (Half of Iraq’s Christians chose to flee after the US occupation). At the same time, the country’s economic elite – largely Sunnis – are backing the regime in recognition that it will pay dearly for a civil war.
Encouraged by the United States, the EU and the monstrous dictatorships in the Gulf states, the uprising spread to most parts of Syria. CIA smuggling weapons to the rebels. Initially from Lebanon, which caused the Syrian army to mine the border, and in the second place from Turkey and Jordan. Already from May, there was no longer a peaceful uprising but an armed uprising, and the Syrian government again responded with a corresponding escalation of the violence. In June, the Free Syrian Army (FSA) entered the public for the first time through direct attacks on the Syrian military. The Free Syrian Army is comprised mostly of Sunni deserters from the Syrian army who do not want to participate in military attacks on protesters. It is financed, among other things. of the emir of Qatarand trained by military experts from the United Kingdom and the United States. It has bases and training facilities in northern Jordan at the border with Syria and Turkey. Turkey’s situation is special because it already fights an internal Kurdish rebellion and accuses Iraqi Kurdistan of harboring rebels, while at the same time supporting the military rebellion in Syria itself.
Following the conquest of Libya in October, the United States and the EU turned their attention to Syria. In November, conservative Gulf states succeeded in getting secular Syria out of the Arab League, and both Turkey and Jordan declared support for the uprising.
The conflict in Syria is increasingly taking on religious and economic dimensions, and is no longer merely a conflict between the country’s military and security forces on the one hand and civilians and the “Free Syrian Army” on the other. Across the country, violent confrontations between the religious groups and national unity are disintegrating, just as the US in Iraq managed to destroy the national cohesion following the conquest in 2003. In December, Iraqi Sunnis began to interfere in the conflict in Syria when Iraqi al-Qaeda conducted coordinated suicide bombings in Damascus. 44 were killed and 166 wounded. Two weeks later, al-Qaeda carried out a new terrorist operation in Damascus. This time aimed at a police bus. At least 11 were killed. The terror in many sectors increased support for the Assad regime.
French journalist Gilles Jacquier was killed in the city of Homs in January 2012 when a mortar fired by opponents of the Assad regime broke down in an Alawi demonstration in an Alawite district. In addition to Jacquier, 8 Syrians were killed. The journalist took part in a tour of the country organized by the regime and became a random victim of domestic violence. At the same time, the killing demonstrated that the violence does not just stem from the Assad regime, but that the opposition also uses violent and random methods. Homs, with its varied ethnic and religious composition, has become, to a particular degree, the center of the violent conflict between the warring groups.
In February 2012, a referendum was held on a new constitution. The most important changes to the constitution were Baath’s status and the abolition of the planning economy. The Baath party should no longer formally have a monopoly on political power in the country. New parties could be created, but they did not have to be based on ethnic, religious, regional or tribal affiliation. New parties must be approved by the state – as in Denmark – to be eligible for election. The planning economy was abolished and the country’s economic base should henceforth be based on both the public and private sectors. The turnout was officially 57.4% and 89.4% voted in favor of the new constitution.