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Syria: A Country in Conflict

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Explains background information on the volatile country of Syria, including conflicts within the Muslim groups and with Muslims and other religions in the country.

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Syria: A Country in Conflict

  1. 1. Syria A country in Conflict
  2. 2. Syria is a country located in the Middle East It’s borders: Turkey, Iraq, Jordan, Israel and Lebanon Capital: Damascus Official Language: Arabic Most prominent religion: Islam
  3. 3. Demographics  Population is about 23 million  Approx. 75% Sunni Muslim  Shia, Druze and Alawite Muslims make up approx. 18% of population  Small percentage of other Christian Denominations
  4. 4. History  Syria has extremely diverse beginnings. It’s lands have been conquered by: Egyptians, Hittites, Sumerians, Mitanni, Assyrians, Babylonians, Canaanites, Phoenicians, Arameans, Amorites, Persians, Greeks and Romans.  Became apart of Byzantine Empire, and conquered by Muslim Arabs, and eventually the Ottomans.  After WWI, came under French control.  Becomes independent on April 17, 1946.  Minister of Defense, an Alawite Muslim, Hafez al- Assad, seizes power in bloodless military coup in 1970.  Assad died in 2000, his son Bashar al-Assad became his successor at age 34.  Economic sanctions renewed on Syria by U.S & U.N in 2002/3 accusing them of supporting terrorist groups such as Hezbollah and Al Qaeda.
  5. 5. Alawite Muslims Alawi is a mystical sect of Shia Islam. Generally a secret sect, refuse knowledge to outsiders. Small minority of Syria, however is sect of President Assad. Oppressed by Ottoman Turks/Sunni Muslims. Not considered Muslims by Sunni Muslims. Came to power by joining military.
  6. 6. Sufism Influence in Syria Naqshbandi Sufi order prominent in Syria. Within the Alawi government, Sufi Muslims hold positions of power. Sufi orders have been important in influencing Shia religious authorities to declare Alawis “bonafide” Shia Muslims Sufi orders have provided backing against Sunni fundamentalist’s challenges to the Alawi regime.
  7. 7. The Muslim Brotherhood  Muslim Brotherhood is made up of Sunni Muslims.  Believes that religion and politics are inseparable.  Believes Sharia is ONLY law, enforceable by any means.  Largest foreign branch established in Syria in 1937.  Brotherhood blamed for terrorist acts during throughout Hefez al- Assad’s rule. Made scapegoat by Alawite regime. •Membership of the Muslim Brotherhood made Capital offense in 1982. Government troops slaughtered up to 25,000 civilians (mostly Sunni) in Hama, to prove this point.
  8. 8. The Syrian Conflict
  9. 9. Key Points  Inspired by “Arab-Spring” revolts.  Protesters initially demanded economic reforms.  Armed rebel groups now consist of many different kinds of protestors, including ex soldiers, and terrorist group links such as Muslim Brotherhood and Al Qaeda  No unifying ideology other than hate for Assad  Over 60,000 dead in first 18 months of conflict  Iran helping Assad  Even if Assad is ousted, struggle for power could lead to more conflict.
  10. 10. Before and After