13.03.2011 07.Adar ll, 5771
Syria is unlikely to be the next Arab state to witness anti-government unrest.
A glance at a map of the region reveals the seismic changes the Arab world has undergone since the end of last year. News websites have taken to shading in those countries that have seen popular uprisings, leaving a broad swathe of color from Morocco to Oman. Israel aside, the only Middle Eastern countries to have been spared unrest are the small, oil-washed Persian Gulf welfare states of Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, and one impoverished, isolated and backward country ruled by an autocratic clique in the worst Arab tradition: Syria.
That Syrians have sat still through the storm is puzzling. They are destitute, on par with resource-poor Yemenis despite having considerable oil and gas reserves. Their country’s political, economic and security establishments are in the hands of the ruling Alawite sect, and Damascus has for years been ostracized from the international community, its only powerful friend the ayatollahs’ Iran….