AMU Homeland Security Opinion

State of Emergency to be repealed in Syria

By William Tucker
59af034b-8e5c-4d6b-ac32-aa6978644b87-big.jpgThe Syrian government ended nearly fifty years of emergency rule today as a key concession to anti-government protesters. This is the first move made by Syrian President Bashir al-Assad in his promise to institute political reform in the country. As expected, the protesters were not swayed and have remained in the streets – even in the face of sniper fire. Human rights groups have put the death toll at 200 since the beginning of the Syrian unrest and the government shows no sign of relenting. Those protesting the ruling Baath party have learned from protesters in other Middle East nations that simply refusing to go home goes a long way in destabilizing the government.

As with any autocratic government the stability of the state is heavily dependent on the security services. These security services are divided between regime hardliners and regular military. What we must watch for in the days and weeks ahead is a split in the security apparatus. The al-Assad family is the only Shiite minority ruling a Sunni majority population in the Arab world. This situation has forced al-Assad to delicately balance his forces and the proper application of pressure can force a split. Just as uncertainty in Egypt made many world powers nervous so too will the future of Syria.
Photo: Protesters in Homs, Syria (AP)

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