Syria: home of unprecedented tragedy


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Mar 22, 2012
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Finally these Middle Eastern countries are stepping up to the plate to help the Syrian people.

Syria: home of unprecedented tragedy

In the case of Syrian refugees, Algeria, Saudi Arabia, UAE and Qatar could have come forward and alleviated their hardships. But this has not happened

  • Syria, until the devastating civil war that struck the country four years ago, was considered a nearly developed country. It had a prosperous middle class having a per capita income of $ 4,000, swamped with all the amenities of life. Civic infrastructures in Damascus, Aleppo, Lattakia, Kessab and other big cities were comparable to thriving cities in Europe and the US. Hospitals, schools and universities were of European standards. Shopping malls and markets had stocks of merchandise arriving mostly from Turkey but also from other countries in the Middle East and Europe. Syria has a limited supply of oil and gas but its agriculture was modernised and produced varieties of fruits and vegetables. Tourism was an important sector in the economy and tourists from all across Europe would flock into this home of ancient civilisation. Syria has a population of around 23 million living mostly in the urban areas with diverse ethnic backgrounds and religious orientations.

Syria has been a home of totalitarian regimes for the past 50 years. Hafeez al-Assad ruled the country from 1970 till he died in 2000. He was succeeded by his eldest son, Bashar al-Assad, a dental physician by background. Hafeez wanted his second son to succeed but his death in a car accident brought the eldest son to inherit the father’s title. Bashar’s succession raised some hope that he, being educated in the UK, would make a departure from his father’s dictatorial legacy and follow a trajectory more in line with pluralism. But that hope was misplaced: Bashar followed in the footsteps of his father.

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