Country Name: Syria (English), Sūriyya/Sūryā (Arabic)
Official Name: Syrian Arab Republic (English), al-Jumhūriyyah al-‘Arabīyah as-Sūriyyah (Arabic)
News Category: Divided Countries, Intergovernmental Organizations
Summary: Ten months in Syria's popular uprising, parts of the country have fallen out of government hands and into the control of the "Free Syrian Army," a group made up mostly of defectors from the national military. Meanwhile, Syria has been been suspended from the Arab League due its government's failure to stop using violence against unarmed protesters.
|Known areas of armed activity for the rebel "Free Syrian Army" - many rural areas may be under full rebel|
control. Unarmed protests, much more widespread than armed rebel activity, are not shown here. Map is my
own work, starting from this blank map by German Wikipedia user NordNordWest. License: CC BY-SA (Corrected
Feb. 26, 2012 for partial Hama control and eastern region activity; again on Mar. 9, 2012 for Rastan control.)
The "Arab Spring" has brought incredible upheaval to the the Middle East and North Africa - first the Tunisian and Egyptian dictatorships fell to peaceful protesters; then Libya became embroiled in a civil war, while Yemen too began to fragment under opposing forces. Now, Syria has become the third country in the region to be divided between warring armies, as the 10-month-old uprising has given way to formidable armed resistance from a growing network of military defectors calling themselves the "Free Syrian Army" (FSA).
Wikipedia: Arab Spring
Even before the armed resistance began in earnest last September, the Syrian government and its president, Bashar al-Assad, were making headlines with their brutal crackdowns on peaceful protesters, along with tank-led sieges of disobedient cities. After six months of government violence, the FSA rebels burst onto the stage with a successful, if temporary, takeover of the anti-government city of Rastan (See News Bits: October 2011). They were eventually driven out of Rastan, and moved their headquarters across the border into Turkey, using the next three months to slowly consolidate control over the northwestern province of Idlib, while also gaining ground in the city of Homs and the provinces of Hama and Daraa. [Update: The FSA took control a of Rastan a second time just as this post was being written.]
Wikipedia: 2011–2012 Syrian uprising
|The Arab League, with Syria in lighter green at top right.|
Map by Danalm000, from Wikimedia (license: CC BY-SA)
The League of Arab States (better known as the Arab League), an international organization of which Syria is a founding member, has taken a close interest in the events unfolding within the country. In November, the body voted to suspend Syria's membership unless President Assad brought an end to the violence against civilian protesters. Assad failed to follow through with any concrete action, and the country was suspended from the League. In January, the organization sent a delegation of observers into Syria to examine the situation; they were allowed inside the country, but eventually were forced to leave due to escalating violence between government forces and the FSA. As the region's main representative body, the Arab League will likely be a major player in any future decisions by the international community to intervene in Syria's civil war.
Wikipedia: League of Arab States