Middle East

Next Stop Syria?

Unrest in the Arab world is now reaching Syrian streets.  Thousands have marched in protest for the past three days in the Southern town of Deraa.  Syria has certainly been feeling the pressure of the revolutions sweeping the Arab world and up until now the government has kept tight control of its people.  Even children and teenagers are subject to the crackdown.  The arrest of 15 schoolchildren was the main impetus for the large protests, and the demands of the people have now grown.  The children were arrested for allegedly wrote slogans and other graffiti inspired by the uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt on the walls of their school.  Interestingly, the Syrian government has agreed to release the children.  Reuters reports that this is one of the only times the Syrian government has shown susceptibility to public pressure. Many protesters called for a revolution to take place at the funerals of two of the protesters.  Officials met with leaders in Deraa Saturday where they were presented with a list of demands.  In addition to the release of political prisoners, the protesters are now demanding an end to the government’s 48 years of emergency law, dismantling of the secret police headquarters in Deraa, dismissal of the governor, a public trial for those responsible for the killings and scrapping of regulations requiring permission from the secret police to sell and buy property.  The Syrian government may have to allow more concessions if it wants to avoid a full-scale revolution.  Many in Syria are already suffering from drought and mismanagement of resources, and the government’s inability to address the public’s concerns will only add fuel to the fire.  Syria will have to start taking its citizens needs and desires into consideration or face the Arab revolution that is waiting at its doorstep.

Photo Credit:  Flickr, Bert Kaufmann