Due to its geographical location straddling the transit point between Europe, Asia, and Africa, the Middle East has been host to numerous civilizations, ethnic groups, and religious beliefs. Thus, the region the region is home to a social heterogeneity and cultural agglomeration. This situation can be described as ‘Curate’s Egg’, apart from providing rich cultural heritage, it triggers social unrest made visible by the current climate of Syria apart from providing rich cultural heritage in several countries of the region.
This map, published by The Washington Post in August of 2013, displays the intricate demographic structure of the country. Many of the ethnic and religious groups represented in this map have affiliated, allied or directly the same groups across borders in the region. Powers outside of Syria use this to their advantage to hosting proxy wars with the participation of many regional and global jihadist groups. The combination of this political disturbance and the knotty population structure is combined, has led to the many tragic and traumatic incidents with millions of people fleeing as a result.
The U.N. deemed the conflict between Alawite and Sunni communities here “overtly sectarian,” but this designation can be erroneous and dangerous. The misidentification of the roots of the problem can bring along new disputes and disrupt possible solutions. This simple analysis is iterated as the Sunni majority’s displeasure with an Alawite elite and the non-Alawite opposition’s sectarian attitude personified with a desire to collapse the secular Baath party; however, the domestic displeasure cannot be explained simply by sectarianism and variables like sectionalism and tribalism must be accounted for. Also, the liability of foreign powers has to be exonerated. In Syria’s Uprising and the Fracturing of the Levant, Emile Hokayem, a Senior Fellow at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, argues that the Alawite nature of the regime is more about ‘cultural and social behavior’ rather than faith. He also emphasizes the role of asabiya (kinship) in the decision-making process, arguing that this perception has the precedence over sectarian considerations.
Likewise, the UN cannot deliver consequential solutions, at least for the time being. Moreover, many local and foreign actors have become factions in the scramble for control of the country. Incidentally, the conflict eclipsed itself as a regional problem, effectively turning into a global problem. With this in mind, it is difficult to brush it off as a simply sectarian conflict or a civil war. In view of prior knowledge, the Syrian demographic and cultural structure have to be further pondered upon to provide healthier migrant management and creating better solutions.
Featured Photo: AP