Much has changed in the Middle East since the eruption of the Syrian Conflict. A late bloomer to the Arab Spring, Syria has gone beyond the narrative of dictator vs. the people and become a major proxy war with the potential to consume the entire region. In the past two years, age old strategic alliances have collapsed while strange and questionable partnerships have been formed. One of the more interesting breakdowns involves the relationship between the Islamic Republic of Iran and Turkey, most recently evident by Turkey exploring the option of reducing oil imports from Iran.
Posts Tagged ‘Civil War’
Tags: Civil War, Erdogan, Periphery doctrine, Regional hegemony, Regionalism, Syria
Tags: Arab Spring, Assad, Civil War, Middle East, Politics, Regionalism, S, Shiite, Shiite Crescent, Sunni, Syria
By Frazier Fathers
This past week’s decapitating strike by Syrian opposition forces resulted in the deaths of Defense Minister Dawood Rajiha, his “deputy” Asef Shawkat (Assad’s brother-in law), Assistant Vice President Hassan Turkmani and Hisham Ikhtiar (Syria’s National Security Chief). The brazen bombing showed that the situation in Syria has recently deteriorated much quicker than many expected; the ability of the ever emboldened opposition to strike at the higher echelons of the Syrian regime is becoming a potential game changer. As the situation continues to spiral out of control, reports of ethnic cleansing of neighbourhoods and villages to the driving out of Iraqi refuges are raising sectarian tensions.
With pundits all agreeing that it is not a matter of “if” the Assad regime will fall but rather “when,” attention needs to be paid to what the aftermath of his fall might be. Syria is a divided nation in a divided region, where the majority Sunni population has been repressed at the hands of the Alawites (Shiites). Meanwhile the Kurds of Syria much like Kurds in Iraq and Turkey has suffered years of repression that has led to various nationalistic movements within the group. Smattered between these major groups are enclaves of Druze and Christians who are positioned to be potential targets of reprisal for their years of supporting the Assad regime.
Tags: Buddhism, Civil War, Colonialism, Ethnic Conflict, Politics, Post-Colonialism, Sinhala, Tamil
The first part of this series addressed the origins of Buddhist revivalism and its impact on developing a strong Sinhala Buddhist identity during the colonial period. While the concept was not adopted broadly, it remained an influential philosophy among some religious and political classes. With the arrival of independence, Buddhist revivalism was re-invigorated and reinvented to chart the future of post-Colonial Ceylon (Sri Lanka from 1972). It played an important role in pushing Sinhalese culture and religion to the forefront of the island’s national identity and sought to right the wrongs of over four-hundred years of colonial rule. However, It also contributed to the deterioration of ethnic relations between Sinhalese and Tamils, culminating in a decades long civil war.
State building in a post-Colonial World
There was no lack of conflict in the new born states of the post-colonial era. As European powers pulled out of much of Asia and Africa, a plethora of states were born. Ravaged by centuries of colonial extraction, these states clearly lacked the political maturity that their former rulers had developed through centuries of practice with the Westphalia nation-state model.
Probably the most important goals for indigenous political elites at this time, were national integration and state-building. The national government had to extend its authority throughout the newly formed boundaries of the state. This was troublesome because many of these states were unified or shaped geographically through colonialism; in some cases, groups locked within a single state had little prior interaction with some of their new compatriots.
Tags: Ceylon, Civil War, Colonialism, Ethnic Conflict, History, Politics, Sri Lanka, terrorism
We are often told that finding the root cause of a given problem will help us formulate a solution. Unfortunately, the world is a complex place with causal relationships difficult to establish. In most cases, there are a variety of factors working together to propel any given phenomenon and the likelihood of identifying, let alone understanding their interactions, is almost non-existent. This article does not claim to provide a complete picture of the root causes of Sri Lanka`s ethnic conflict, however, it is an attempt to explain some of the contributors to what became a bloody civil war that plagued the island for 25 years at the cost of thousands of its sons and daughters. This is a layered approach, first examining the psyche, the narrative of the people involved and then delving into the situations and their interpretations that created Sri Lanka’s ethnic conflict.
Destined for Conflict?
Many are often drawn to simplistic explanations that often draw the warring sides as natural enemies; communities destined for war since the days of old. Such claims come up when discussing conflicts between the Arabs and Jews or Shiites and Sunnis. The same has been said about Sri Lanka`s ethnic conflict, that the Sinhalese and Tamil people have struggled for dominance since the ancient times, captured perfectly in the war between the Sinhala King Duttagamani and the Tamil King Elara. Furthermore, rulers in the Southern (Tamil speaking) Indian kingdoms often sought to invade Sri Lanka. These stories become part of a narrative that plays a major role in shaping the Sinhala identity and while the events in themselves are not proof of a natural enmity between the communities, their re-telling has given birth to a strong construct that makes sense of the present through the past.