Dr. Evangelos Ventis ist leitender wissenschaftlicher Mitarbeiter für Islam- und Iranwissenschaften an der Universität Leiden in den Niederlanden. Er hat zahlreiche Bücher und Artikel über historische und moderne Aspekte des Nahen Ostens geschrieben.
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"The ongoing political crisis in Syria has influenced as a catalyst the political life of the country and its geopolitical role in the region. The increasing political tension in various urban centres in the country and the increasing negative pressure of the anti-Assad powers on the Syrian leader to diminish his pressure on the rebels weakens Syria's geopolitical role.
Syria is a multicultural country with a predominantly Muslim population (90%) and multi-racial background (Arabs, Kurds, Armenians, Turkmen). The geomorphology of the country has turned urban life mainly near the coast and the border. The cultural characteristics of the inhabitants of Syria are similar to those of neighbouring countries, such as Jordan, Lebanon, etc. Based on these elements there is the belief that the political worldview of the Syrians and other Arabs in the region is not confined to the narrow and artificial boundaries of a nation state. In this context, one could explain the rapid spread of Arab riots in Syria.
Directly related to its cultural diversity are the political queries of Syrians. Since its establishment in 1946 the country has passed through various stages of politics, without ever having established a more widely accepted political system. Yet the Baath government has given the country certain aspects of stabilising governance. The dissolution of the Ottoman Sultanate (1923) marked the replacement of Islam by the nation as a political milestone, and centripetal force. Since then, the conflict between secular and Islamist rule in Syria has been the case, as in every Muslim country.
Today this conflict is of particular importance because of the globalised system of capitalist civil democracy that permeates the Middle East since 2002, when Washington announced the doctrine of democratisation in the Muslim world. This doctrine is in place and this is proved by Washington's management of crisis in almost every Arab country. Syria is no exception. But what is the future of the state?
With regard to the political situation in the country, despite growing pressure on Assad to abandon his rule in Damascus, he has kept his political vision intact in relation to the political system of the country's future. He is prepared to proceed to liberal reforms but in no case to change the system completely. The power game in Syria has shown that Assad is determined to remain in power at all costs. Besides, the regime in Damascus has learned from the lessons of the 1982 Islamist uprising in the town of Homa.
The ranks of the insurgents consist mainly of two heterogeneous political powers. At first there are the Sunni Islamists of Salafi orientation with ties to al-Qaeda, seeking to the return of political Islam. Furthermore, the secular middle-class youth is the spearhead of the rebels but the spear is the Islamists. They advocate the adoption of a Western-style democratic system. The Kurdish and Turcoman minorities play a special role in this rebellion.
Since 1971, the Assad regime has ruled with an iron fist based on a systematic management scheme that has given the country uniformity and stability. If this scheme is removed, then the question is how and what will replace it. Given the state of political heterogeneity in Syria, if Assad departs, the country will discern immediately in chaos, resulting in a civil war and the fragmentation of the country between the various political forces.
The geopolitical role of Syria in the Eastern Mediterranean, in particular the Palestinian issue, makes it important to neighbouring countries.
Being a strategic ally of Iran and part of Lebanon acting anti-Israeli policy in Palestine, Assad has allies and enemies in the region. Any destabilisation of Syria in the fall of Assad will change the geopolitical map of the Eastern Mediterranean, resulting in direct and substantial involvement of neighbouring countries for the formation of new alliances.
Such a development, however, presupposes long-term fermentation and the destabilisation of the region and is expected to have an unknown and unpredictable outcome and consequences, even for the supporters of regime change inside and outside Syria."