A Syriaus History of Syria

By: Zachary Coe, Rajan Mehta, and Peter Tojsl

Rajan's Map Analysis

It shows where each group is present in Syria. This is important because the person looking at the map will get an understanding of where each side is based, and where the areas of conflict are.

The map shows how the terrorist groups ISIS and Al-Qaeda have control over huge portions of Syria, and are steadily advancing towards the southern parts of Syria that are controlled by the Syrian Army. The final important part of this map is how it shows areas that are currently contested. The majority of the contested areas are in the areas controlled by the rebels. They are also near the big cities in Syria. This shows that the rebels have control of some of the big cities, but there is a lot of fighting for the cities.

This map was created to show people that the Syrian conflict is not simple. The U.S just helping the rebels overthrow the current government cannot solve the conflict. There are too many groups that are fighting in Syria for a solution to come within the next few years. The map shows this through their representation of the different groups in Syria. On the map you can see how ISIS and the Kurds are up in the north, the rebels in the west, and the Syrian army in the south. No group is only influential in one area, every group has influence and forces in places throughout Syria. This also emphasizes the complexity of the war going on.

This map gives a better idea of where each side is based in Syria, and where the major points of conflict are. For example if a news article says that Damascus is being attacked by ISIS people who saw the map may take the article with a grain of salt because ISIS has little influence in the south. It also shows how much influence the Kurds have in Syria. Since they are not mentioned as much as ISIS or the rebels, it is good for people to be aware that they are fighting in Syria. The information given on the map supports all of the articles and papers I have read on the Syrian civil war. The map shows that ISIS is very powerful in Syria, which is something that is mentioned in articles I have read. The map also shows that the rebels have gained land in the south, capturing cities like Daraa. The articles I have read also say that the Syrian rebels have rebounded, and are slowly making there way towards Damascus. The map is a very accurate representation of what is going on in Syria.

My one question for the map maker is, Why does no one have control of the west? Does anyone want the west, or is it too hard to control?

Zac's News Analysis

There has been much turmoil throughout Syria in recent years due to the Assad Regime. Its decades long record of oppression has prompted domestic opposition to the region since Bashar al-Assad came to power. One of the biggest watershed moments for the Syrian public was a protest in Daraa, in which people went into the streets protesting the way some anti-regime youth had been treated. The regime responded by opening fire into the crowd, killing four. This caused huge amounts of backlash and had people across the world protesting Assad’s actions and calling for his downfall. One article with such a message is ‘Daraa protests are the spark Syria needed’, by Maher Arar.

The first thing one notices when they open up the article is the title, sub-title, and a picture. The title, as previously said, is ‘Daraa protests are the spark Syria needed’, and the sub-title is “The security forces’ violent clampdown on protesters in Daraa will inspire repressed Syrians to finally break their silence”. These two sentences were purposefully planned to have a specific meaning behind them. The title implies that these protests were necessary and they they had to happen for Syria to succeed; and the subtitle implies that these actions taken by the Syrians were caused by the actions of the regime and that they were inevitable. If you put these together one can see that the author is saying that the regime has taken actions that have resulted in an inevitable uprising, and that it is necessary for the Syrians to overthrow the Assad regime. The picture, which is a picture of Syrians protesting, is also used to push this notion, it is a picture of a large crowd of people with facemasks protesting in a front of a building that makes the reader assume that they are protesting reactionarily to the actions of the regime. The message that the regime is in the wrong, and specifically that their actions have set an inevitable eventuality into motion, is seen more throughout the rest of the article.

The article begins with Arar telling the reader briefly what happened in Daraa. Then he describes Assad’s response that he had used interviews to say that they were close to the people, the best choice for leader, and that the his opponents, both domestically and in the world at large, are in the wrong. Arar then presents the facts against Assad’s narrative. First he states that Assad was voted for by 97% of the voters, which would normally agree with Assad’s points; however, it in fact implies that Assad is not being fairly elected, and is instead essentially a dictator. He then uses facts as a low key way to take on Assad’s record However, while this may seem like Arar is tackling a very polarized subject in an objective way, it is anything but. In fact, this is Arar’s way of guiding the reader to the conclusion that the revolution is inevitable and justified by the abuses of Assad and his regime.

One particularly noteworthy quote “For instance, it became clear around 2001 that Syria was a preferred rendition destination for terror suspects. The cases of Hydar Zammar, Ahmed El-Maati, Abdullah El-Malki and my own are only a few examples. Bob Baer, a former CIA official, stated at the time: "If you want a serious interrogation, you send a prisoner to Jordan. If you want them to be tortured, you send them to Syria," something to which I can personally attest” (Arar). In this quote, Arar states that Syria is a preferred rendition area and then states not once but twice to the fact that he had been sent to Syria as a prisoner. This also leaves some questions to be asked. Why were these people sent to Syria? Why was he sent to Syria? Why didn’t he include this in this article? Does the answer change about the dynamic of the article that made it so important that he couldn’t tell the reader? Was he considered a terrorist? Does that imply anything about elements of the anti-Assad movement.

Taking look back at Syria now with almost five years of knowledge behind us, what can we say about this article? We know that these uprisings have brought about lots of change in Syria, and one of those changes happens to be the creation of ISIS. One can also find out that, after some research, Arar was sent to Syria for rendition because he was suspected as a member of al-Qaeda. That doesn’t mean that this is terrorist propaganda, convincing others that terrorists are nothing more than people forced to take action. Instead, it suggests that maybe genuine revolutionaries and terrorists maybe in the same circles or work together. One of the most important things that illustrated by event in the Middle East is that the enemy of my enemy is not always my friend, that while a group may fight against someone with evil intentions, that doesn’t mean their intentions are good. This article was written by someone with a pro-revolutionary bias, who is tacitly asking the reader to support the anti-Assad forces. He does this by detailing the evils of the regime, yet his motives may not be pure.

Peter's Political Cartoon Analysis

The Arab Spring was a series of demonstrations and protest, riots, and civil wars across the Arab world. Many countries rulers overthrew their leaders, but the Syrian president Al-Assad never fell, instead using weapons against his own people. An army formed by deserters based in Turkey hoped to overthrow the regime. They got many small government opposition groups, which they brought together at the beginning of the Syrian civil War On July 29, 2011, the Free Syrian Army (FSA) was formed through a YouTube video, which not very many people cared about and solely got 5,000 views. It had grown to 10,000 people by October of 2011.

This cartoon was the first quality political cartoon that was centered on the Free Syrian Army. On the top of the cartoon it states, "The US formally recognizes the Free Syrian Army, while declaring the Al-Nasura front a terrorist group. The cartoon is set in what looks like a war struck city somewhere in Syria. I think the setting is made in a location like this because the author wants to show that the army doesn't reside in nice places, but rather in war struck cities where everyone has fled already. On the left hand side of the cartoon is the American side of the cartoon. The American is shown on the left side of the cartoon because on a map they are east of the middle east The Free Syrian Army members are on the left side of the cartoon are portrayed like a joke, looking like they have second-hand clothing, and there is one of them is even portrayed as if he was purple. I think is stereotyping that every soldier wore these crazy colors and looked nowhere near a normal human being.

All off the people in the cartoon are stereotypes and under my research seem not to be portraying any specific person. The front solder has a rocket launcher with a rocket on his back, with the second soldier behind him has an AK-47.There is a broken down city, with a drone flying over it. The American soldier on the left side of the cartoon says "Congratulations! Here... oh, and that drone is going to kill your best fighters". It is ironic that he is saying congratulations to them, because they are going to be more known, but the next sentence says that he is going to kill their best fighters. The FSA Soldiers are holding a paper that is a declaration of International Diplomatic Recognition, and is signed by Barack Obama. The author is using irony because of the fact that they just got recognition for being known by the huge country of America, and they even got a paper with a signature from Barack Obama to prove it! One sentence later, the American soldier goes on to say that the drone, which can be seen in the distance, is going to be killing their best fighters.

The overall image of this cartoon is that US has recognized them and they will be soon suppressed by the largest military in the world. The author want's to show that they are of no real danger to us, that we are a bigger danger to them, and they stand no chance against the US. This cartoon is pro-American, primarily because the author is American, and everything in this article goes against the Free Syrian Army and Al-Nasura. This gives the citizens of America lots of confidence, knowing that the government will suppress any danger any where in the world, and if they can suppress it there, no attacks will be anywhere near the US.

Open Ended Questions

  1. What did the French want to do within Syria?

  2. If the Alawite Shia Muslims never sided with the French, how would the conflict be different?

  3. How would Syria be different today if the Sunnis were in power during French Imperialism?

  4. What if the French did not remake the borders of Syria and Lebanon?

  5. What if the British never intervened when the French started bombing Syria after they could not resolve the pulling out of french forces?

  6. Why was Daraa the beginning of Syria's protests? Why not anywhere else?

  7. Which side should America join in the Middle East? Should we side with the rebels who are trying to overthrow corrupt and evil regimes? Or should we side with the regimes because the rebels can end up being worse than the regimes?