The Arab Spring was a democratic uprising that started in Tunisia and spread among a group of Middle Eastern countries. The Arab Spring was a result of frustration and failure throughout the Middle East. The Arab Spring was born out of a “broad set of ideas and grievances that are motivating” change (Jones). As Jones states, “the Arab world underperforms all other regions of the world on virtually all social, political, and economic indices, and has done for many years” (Jones). Jones then identified three important factors that would increase the likelihood of the Arab Spring spreading to specific countries and destabilizing them. Jones identifies these three factors as poverty, lack of economic opportunity, and a repressive and disliked regime. Chillingly, these three things throughout this paper have all been proven to be present in Syria. In addition, the technological and social innovations fo modern times has given the “underemployed, educated, and frustrated urban youth the ability to communicate in real time and to organize themselves via social media, revolutionizing the collective imagination of what is possible” (Jones). Ultimately, one of the main factors of the Arab Spring and general instability in the Middle East as a whole, and Syria specifically, comes from the inability for leaders and regimes to establish legitimacy.
Author McHugo states that “what they wanted was human rights, democracy and jobs: three demands which they summed up with the one word ‘dignity’” (McHugo). The Arab Spring first spread to places like Egypt, Libya, Bahrain, and Yemen before finally reaching Syria. This outbreak of democratic cries was the event that finally broke Syria into a civil war, something it had been on the verge of for nearly its whole history. Perhaps it can be argued that it was avoidable had violence not been seen as the solution by the regime. Unfortunately, this is not the case, and it was rather inevitable. It all started in Syria in a southern town called Der’a where a group of young school children had begun writing “freedom” and a slogan calling for the fall of the regime, as graffiti on their school walls. This most likely came from influence both within their own households of hearing their parent’s voiced opinions as well as in society and the media learning about the other Arab countries who had carried out similar events. The children, ranging in age from 9-15, were arrested and taken to Damascus for interrogation and torture (McHugo).
After pleas for release by the families were ignored, demonstration broke out calling for the children’s release in Der’a. The security forces showed their insensitivity to brutality when they shot four people dead at these demonstrations. This only fueled the demonstrators and the people of Syria, increasing the protestor turnout. Dar’a’s involvement quickly became “a rallying cry across the country for what began as a rural and provincial driven uprising” (CNN). The protestors began attacking government offices and buildings and the security forces began attacking hospitals and innocents’ as well as local Ba’th party headquarters. On 23 March, the security forces raided a mosque which had become a temporary hospital to treat those now being injured in the ongoing disturbances and on this day, 15 people were reported killed and hundreds injured (McHugo). In an attempt to preserve his authority and power, Bashar blamed it all on a foreign conspiracy (McHugo). He further claimed that “stability in Syria depended on its [his regime] staying in power” (Olmert).
Yet, the government brutality against protestors did not let up and the battle between Syrian citizens and the Syrian government had escalated into all out chaos and civil war. It quickly spiraled into a more sectarian battle as it became evident that Bashar al-Asad’s regime, Alawite, had committed the atrocious massacres.