The History of Syria
Syria was a former Ottoman Empire province under the administration of the French that took charge after the First World War. The country became independent in 1946. Due to the ineffective political system, the country has encountered several military coups (“Central Intelligence Agency”). In 1958, Syria developed political agreements with Egypt to form a single nation under The United Arab Republic umbrella. Notably, Syria later separated from the partnership in 1961 to become the Syrian Arab Republic. Besides various aspects considered important in analyzing the Syrian position, the history, economy, government and political systems, culture and cultural effects, demography, and impacts of globalization are among critical aspects that would offer an insight in understanding the challenges witnessed by this country.
Capital and Flag
Damascus is the country’s capital city and one of the largest municipalities in Syria. However, Syria has several other commercial towns, including Aleppo, Daara, and Deir ez-Zor (“Central Intelligence Agency”).
The Syrian flag has three colors, including red, white, and black, of a similar density. Two green stars are placed symmetrically within the white band. The flag symbolizes national unity and cohesion. The Syrian flag was adopted from the Arab liberation, which had four colors, red, green, white, and red, representing major dynasties of the Arab history (“Central Intelligence Agency”). Besides trying to be democratic and value-based society based on constitutionalism, the current political challenges threaten its existence on a global map.
Geography and Demography
Syria is located in the Middle East, where it borders the Mediterranean Sea, Turkey, and Lebanon. The nation’s total land mass is 185,180 square kilometers (km), with water and land mass covering 1,550 and 183,630 square kilometers, respectively (“Central Intelligence Agency”). The country has a 193 kilometers coastline and shares border with Turkey 899km, Iraq at 599 km, Lebanon 403 km, Jordan 379 km, and Israel 83 km (“Central Intelligence Agency”). Syria is primarily a semiarid and of desert plateau. Climatic patterns are spread in two seasons of Sunny summers between June and August and mild winter with little rains between December and February. The relatively extreme weather usually occurs along the coast, with snow periodically witnessed in Damascus.
Government and Political System
Syria has adopted a presidential system of government, which is highly authoritative. The dictatorial regime has seen the country undergo several coup attempts. The nation is always at war with other countries that foster democratic values, such as the United States. Syria’s political power has been concentrated in the small Alawite elites since 2011, leading to civil wars, such as the Arab springs. Later, involvement of regional entities like Israel and international powers, including the U.S and the United Kingdom, is evident (“Syria Country Profile”). International efforts are being made to enhance the rule of law in the country following sporadic and heinous civil war.
The current quest to restore democracy led by Turkey, Russia, France, and Germany is focused on demilitarizing Idlib zone, constitutional reforms, and refugee situations. So far, several concessions have been made, including a ceasefire agreement. Even though major opposition groups have boycotted several national dialogues and constitutional plan, efforts are being made to ensure ruling elites and opposition leaders strike a compromise to restore democracy in the country.
The Economic Situations of Syria
The economy of Syria has been steadily depreciating from a developing country to an impoverished nation since the beginning of civil war in 2011. The economy declined almost 70% between 2010 and 2017 (“Syria Country Profile”). The infrastructural development achieved since independence has been destroyed by war. The government struggles with internal conflicts and international sanctions, leading to high inflation, reduced subsidies, and diminished domestic production and consumption patterns.
The economic situation, such as exchange rate and inflation, improved in 2017 after a series of political negotiations led by the international community. The Syrian government has been committed to the program of economic and financial reform. The Syrian Commission of Financial Markets and Securities was established to enhance the rule of law regarding investment and sound fiscal prudence among members (“Syria Country Profile”). The entity, which is based in Damascus, controls the Syrian stock exchange. However, hardline positions taken by the ruling elites and opposition groups have only driven the economy into oblivion.
Currently, Syria experience challenges in determining its financial position. The GDP has been declining over the past few years. In 2013, per capita of Syria was at $ 2900, which was number 156 on a global comparison (“Syria Country Profile”). However, the civil war has rendered the country completely volatile, regarding its position in global assessment (“Syria Country Profile”). The Syrian financial market’s expansion rate has become unpredictable due to political unrest.
Syria is under humanitarian crisis. International assistance is required to manage worsening levels of hunger, deaths, and the deplorable state, especially for the internally displaced persons (“Aljazeera”). It is estimated that more than 13 million Syrians are in dire need of humanitarian support. In addition, the number of Syrian refugees and IDPs is around 5 million (“Syria Country Profile”). The country is in serious political turmoil and dire need of international intervention. The long political wars have affected the entire economy and the job market. The challenges of the current political system have led to the depreciation of the Syrian pound. The effects include trends witnessed in commodity prices, shrinking job market, and the total breakdown of the economy (“Syria Country Profile”). Therefore, the Syrian war has brought the economy to a halt.
The county’s health system has been affected significantly by political uncertainty. Even though a higher percentage of primary healthcare facilities are publicly owned and operated by the government, efforts to make them operational are failing due to the continued crisis. The UN and other accredited bodies, including Red Cross and the Red Crescent, support the country’s affected regions (“UNRWA” par. 14). Likewise, private physician and dentist manage healthcare needs of the Syrian population through appointments and general visits.
Cultural and Cultural Effects
Syria is predominantly an Arab country linked to the Islamic religion. More than 80 percent of population professes the Islamic faith (“Syria Country Profile” par. 21). The religion significantly affects the lifestyle of people. It is worth noting that Arab and Muslim values more influence Christians’ clothing and cultural perspectives in Syria (“Syria Country Profile.” par. 24). Syria has long rooted cultural traditions that encourage self-discipline. Some of the renowned customary practices are cultural dances, such as Dabkeh, al-Samah, and the sword dance. Therefore, the country has a rich cultural diversity spread across its population and observed during various celebrations.
The role of women in Syria has witnessed a revolution compared to other Arab countries. Morello explains that Syria is an open-minded community where women are involved in political discussions and other cultural practices (par. 8). One of the outstanding female leaders in Syria is Suhair Atassi, the daughter of a founding member of the Baath ruling party. Her prominence in national dialogues has gained global popularity and recognition from the U.S. among other governments as the representative of people (Morello par. 9). The woman’s role in Syria is integrated within society and across social and political activities. Cuisines and music are influenced by Arabic interests and often a focus of Syrian cultures, especially during religious celebrations, including Ramadan and Iddi. Celebrations are recognized globally in the Islamic religion. However, the instability in the country is affecting cultural practices by creating fear and animosity among people with varying political opinions.
Globalization and Cultural Changes
Syria features negatively during discussions on issues with globalization. The country’s link to terrorism and terror attacks threatens the existence of global peacebuilding efforts while affecting its international perceptions. Global cultural progression has influenced the lifestyle of citizens. The access to the internet through various social media platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, has significantly enhanced standards of living (Hinnebusch 5). Accordingly, the way of life of the foreign workers providing relief similarly affects peoples’ perspectives. The global cultural dynamic can be viewed from changes in dress codes and influence made by other western cultures, including music and language.
“Syria Country Profile.” Syrian Civil War. BBC News. www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-14703856. Accessed 9 Nov. 2018.
Aljazeera. Leaders of Turkey, Russia, France and Germany hold Syria talks: Istanbul Summit Addresses Numerous Issues, Including Idlib Demilitarized Cone, Constitutional Reform And Refugees. Aljazeera News. www.aljazeera.com/news/2018/10/leaders-turkey-syria-france-germany-hold-syria-talks-181027181752402.html. Accessed 9 Nov. 2018.
Central Intelligence Agency. “Syria.” cia.gov. Central Intelligence Agency. www.cia.gov/library/publications/resources/the-world-factbook/geos/sy.html. Accessed 9 Nov. 2018.
Hinnebusch, Raymond. “Globalization and Generational Change: Syrian Foreign Policy between Regional Conflict and European Partnership.” The Review of International Affairs, vol. 3. no. 2, 2003, pp. 190-208.
Morello, C (2013, January 10). Role of Syrian Women Evolves as War Rages on. The Washington Post. www.washingtonpost.com/world/middle_east/role-of-syrian-women-evolves-as-war-rages-on/2013/01/09/5308512e-559b-11e2-bf3e-76c0a789346f_story.html?noredirect=on&utm_term=.0693da2e2d03. Accessed 9 Nov. 2018.
UNRWA. (2018). Working in Syria. www.unrwa.org/careers/duty-stations-syria. Accessed 9 Nov. 2018.