The Sorrows of Egypt: A Tale of Two Men
Back to the Bazaar
Freedom and Justice in the Modern Middle East
Adrift on the Nile
The Limits of the Opposition in Egypt
Is El Baradei Egypt's Hero?
Mohamed El Baradei and the Chance for Reform
Morning in Tunisia
The Frustrations of the Arab World Boil Over
Letter From Cairo
The People's Military in Egypt?
The U.S.-Egyptian Breakup
Washington's Limited Options in Cairo
The Muslim Brotherhood After Mubarak
What the Brotherhood Is and How it Will Shape the Future
Egypt's Democratic Mirage
How Cairo’s Authoritarian Regime Is Adapting to Preserve Itself
Overcoming Fear and Anxiety in Tel Aviv
How Israel Can Turn Egypt's Unrest Into an Opportunity
Mubarakism Without Mubarak
Why Egypt’s Military Will Not Embrace Democracy
Postcolonial Time Disorder
Egypt and the Middle East, Stuck in the Past
Egypt's Constitutional Ghosts
Deciding the Terms of Cairo’s Democratic Transition
A Tunisian Solution for Egypt’s Military
Why Egypt's Military Will Not Be Able to Govern
The Fall of the Pharaoh
How Hosni Mubarak’s Reign Came to an End
The Black Swan of Cairo
How Suppressing Volatility Makes the World Less Predictable and More Dangerous
Green Movement 2.0?
How U.S. Support Could Lead the Opposition to Victory
Letter From Sana’a
Saleh on the Edge
Bahrain’s Shia Question
What the United States Gets Wrong About Sectarianism
Rage Comes to Baghdad
Will Iraq's Recent Protests Lead to Revolt?
The Sturdy House That Assad Built
Why Damascus Is Not Cairo
Rageless in Riyadh
Why the Al Saud Dynasty Will Remain
Syria's Assad No Longer in Vogue
What Everyone Got Wrong About Bashar al-Assad
Meanwhile in the Maghreb
Have Algeria and Morocco Avoided North Africa’s Unrest?
Bahrain's Base Politics
The Arab Spring and America’s Military Bases
Let Them Eat Bread
How Food Subsidies Prevent (and Provoke) Revolutions in the Middle East
Libya's Terra Incognita
Who and What Will Follow Qaddafi?
What Intervention Looks Like
How the West Can Aid the Libyan Rebels
The Folly of Protection
Is Intervention Against Qaddafi’s Regime Legal and Legitimate?
To the Shores of Tripoli
Why Operation Odyssey Dawn Should Not Stop At Benghazi
A New Lease on Life for Humanitarianism
How Operation Odyssey Dawn Will Revive RtoP
The Mythology of Intervention
Debating the Lessons of History in Libya
Flight of the Valkyries?
What Gender Does and Doesn’t Tell Us About Operation Odyssey Dawn
Winning Ugly in Libya
What the United States Should Learn From Its War in Kosovo
Demystifying the Arab Spring
Parsing the Differences Between Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya
Understanding the Revolutions of 2011
Weakness and Resilience in Middle Eastern Autocracies
The Heirs of Nasser
Who Will Benefit From the Second Arab Revolution?
The Rise of the Islamists
How Islamists Will Change Politics, and Vice Versa
Terrorism After the Revolutions
How Secular Uprisings Could Help (or Hurt) Jihadists
It was slow in coming, but the Arab revolutionary wave of 2011 has reached Syria. Its arrival has forced a reassessment of the Bashar al-Assad regime’s domestic legitimacy and prospects for survival. Over the past few months, many commentators have maintained that the regime would remain sheltered from regional turmoil. As the prominent Syrian dissident Suhair Atassi lamented, her country is “a kingdom of silence” dominated by fear.
Now, the story line has changed dramatically. Events in the southern city of Deraa have challenged the conventional wisdom about Syria’s stability. Protests began on March 18, after security forces detained 15 children for spraying anti-regime graffiti on walls there. Seeking to nip any ideas of revolution in the bud, Assad’s security forces attacked the protesters, killing four.
The next day, thousands took to the streets, torching the ruling Baath Party headquarters, several other government buildings, and the local branch of the country’s main cell phone company, Syriatel, which is owned by Assad’s cousin, Rami Makhlouf, whom the protesters singled out by name, calling him a “thief.” They also defaced many of the ubiquitous posters of Assad that the regime, Soviet-style, hangs in public places, and tore down a statue of Hafez al-Assad, Bashar’s father.
The regime’s heavy-handed crackdown on the children lit the fuse on the Syrian people’s political and economic grievances. They initially demanded an end to the emergency laws first enacted 48 years ago when the Baath Party seized power in Syria. But by March 19, they were calling for “revolution.” The old regime-sanctioned chants of “God, Syria, and Bashar only” had been replaced with “God, Syria, and freedom only.”
The regime attempted to calm the situation by sending to Deraa a delegation headed by Faisal al-Miqdad, the deputy foreign minister, to offer condolences and promise an investigation into the deaths of the four protesters. It also pledged to release the original 15 detainees. But the delegation was not well received, and the riots continued and spread to
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