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Arab Spring: A Research & Study Guide * الربيع العربي: Syria

This guide lists online and print sources for what has become known as the "Arab Spring," the popular revolutionary wave in the Middle East and North Africa that started in December 2010.

Background الثورة السورية

ســـورية الحـــرة

علم سوريا‎  Syrian Arab Republic, 1961-1963

Syria: Revolution 2011-

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علم سوريا (Baath Party Flag & 1958-1961, United Arab Republic) re-adopted in 1980-

  

 Small peaceful protests started on 26 January 2011 in Syria and escalated to an ongoing internal conflict. The wave of Arab uprisings that began with the Tunisian revolution of January 2011 reached Syria in mid-March, when residents of the small southern town of Dara’a took to the streets to protest the torture of students who had put up anti-government graffiti.  The unrest spread to other parts of the country. Protesters demand reforms, the ouster of President Bashar al-Assad, allowing political parties, equal rights for Kurds, and broad political freedoms, such as freedom of the press, speech and assembly. The Syrian government has made several concessions, though widely considered trivial by protesters. On 21 April, the government formally declared the repeal of an emergency law that had been in place since 1963 and which allowed the government sweeping authority to suspend constitutional rights. The same month the Syrian government launched the first of what became a series of crackdowns, sending tanks into restive cities as security forces opened fire on demonstrators. Security forces used tanks and snipers to force people off the streets. Water and electricity were shut off and security forces began confiscating flour and food in particularly restive areas. The conflict is complicated by Syria’s ethnic divisions. The Assads and much of the nation’s elite, especially the military's, belong to the Alawite sect (Nuayrī), a small minority in a majority Sunni country.  By October, estimates for the death toll ranged above 2,900, and human rights groups said that well over 10,000 people had been arrested. Syrian dissidents formally established the Syrian National Council which included representatives from the Damascus Declaration group, a pro-democracy network; the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood, a banned Islamic political party; various Kurdish factions; the Local Coordination Committees, a group that helps organize and document protests; and other independent and tribal figures.

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News Archives & Web Resources

Electronic Texts & Documents

  • UN Syria Resolutions (2011-12)
  • "English Translation of the Syrian Constitution". Qordoba. 15 February 2012. Retrieved 29 February 2012.
  • دستور الجمهورية العربيـة السوريـة --  24 شباط  ,2012 Sana News Agency (Official)
  • Old constitution of Syria (1973 - 2012) at the International Constitutional Law (ICL) Project
  • Report of the independent international commission of inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic  United Nations Human Rights Council. Seventeenth special session.  A/HRC/S-17/2/Add.1 General Assembly Distr.: General 23 November 2011 Original: English
  • The secret Assad emails: "A cache of emails obtained by the Guardian [UK newspaper] shows correspondence between Syrian president Bashar al- Assad and his wife Asma and their inner circle of family and confidants, as the country slides toward civil war." Syrian opposition groups managed to hack into the personal emails of President Bashar al-Assad and his British-born wife, Asma, monitoring them for nearly a year until the accounts were closed down. The contents of the emails paint a devastating portrait of a dictator and his wife swapping YouTube videos, buying luxury goods and dismissing international demands for Mr Assad to step down as loyalists spearheaded a brutal crackdown.
  • Syria Reports / Amnesty International
  • The Syrian people's slow-motion revolution. Popular protest in North Africa and the Middle East
  • The Syrian regime's slow-motion suicide. Popular protest in North Africa and the Middle East (VII)
  • “By All Means Necessary!” | Human Rights Watch - HRW : Individual and Command Responsibility for Crimes against Humanity in Syria. December 15, 2011.  The Syrian military and intelligence agencies. The defectors provided detailed information about their units’ participation in attacks, abuses against Syrian citizens, and the orders they received from commanders and officials at various levels, who are named in the report. [Download the full report (PDF, 786.83 Ko)]
  • Structure and Command of Armed Forces and Intelligence Agencies +++ Military Terminology (Human Rights Watch)
  • When it Leaks it Pours…Wikileaks Cables Tangle Syria and U.S. Relations
  • “We Live as in War” Crackdown on Protesters in the Governorate of Homs, Syria. This report focuses on violations by Syrian security forces in the central governorate of Homs from mid-April to end of August 2011 (Human Rights Watch).
  • Report from Amnesty International to the Government of the Arab Syrian Republic Amnesty International research on the military assault on Hama in 1982.
  • Arab League’s Syrian Policy / Müjge Küçükkeleş  SETA Policy Brief, No : 56, April, 2012.  The study addresses the League’s policy proposals, decisions, and reactions regarding the Syrian crisis and con­centrates on what these all policy measures mean for the League as a regional organization. Read complete text (PDF)
  • In cold blood : summary executions by Syrian security forces and pro-government militias. Human Rights Watch, c2012. [PDF. 23 p.] Introduction -- I. Executions in Idlib Governorate -- Execution of Fighters in First Defense Line, March 11, 2012 --  Mass Executions at the Bilal Mosque, March 11, 2012 -- Executions of Four Residents in Ayn Larouz Village, Mid-March 2012 -- Execution of Two Opposition Fighters in Kherbet al-Jouz, March 18, 2012 -- Execution of at Least Seven People in Wadi Bedmaya, December 20, 2011 -- Other Incidents of Executions in Idlib Governorate -- Dabbit Square, Idlib city, March 11, 2012 -- Kafr Rouma, March 6 or 7, 2012 -- Ablin, December 15, 2011 -- Attempted Execution in Taftanaz -- II. Executions in Homs Governorate -- Mass Execution in Sultaniya, Homs, March 3, 2012 -- Mass Killing in the `Adwiyya, Karm al-Zaytoun, and Refa`i Neighborhoods, Homs, March 11-12, 2012 -- Execution of Five Men in Baba Amr, Homs, March 2, 2012 -- Recommendation -- To the UN Security Council -- To All Countries -- To the Arab League -- To Russia and China -- To the Syrian Government. (Introduction -- I. Executions in Idlib Governorate -- Execution of Fighters in First Defense Line, March 11, 2012 --  Mass Executions at the Bilal Mosque, March 11, 2012 -- Executions of Four Residents in Ayn Larouz Village, Mid-March 2012 -- Execution of Two Opposition Fighters in Kherbet al-Jouz, March 18, 2012 -- Execution of at Least Seven People in Wadi Bedmaya, December 20, 2011 -- Other Incidents of Executions in Idlib Governorate -- Dabbit Square, Idlib city, March 11, 2012 -- Kafr Rouma, March 6 or 7, 2012 -- Ablin, December 15, 2011 -- Attempted Execution in Taftanaz -- II. Executions in Homs Governorate -- Mass Execution in Sultaniya, Homs, March 3, 2012 -- Mass Killing in the `Adwiyya, Karm al-Zaytoun, and Refa`i Neighborhoods, Homs, March 11-12, 2012 -- Execution of Five Men in Baba Amr, Homs, March 2, 2012 -- Recommendation -- To the UN Security Council -- To All Countries -- To the Arab League -- To Russia and China -- To the Syrian Government.)
  • Opposition Groups In Syria: Myths And Realities / Andrew Spath, 1/2012 (Foreign Policy Research Institute). More careful assessments of the situation in Syria will consider the complexities of both opposition politics and dynamics of sectarianism. Questions remain as to whether the leading opposition organizations can allay sectarian anxieties. Their best chances of doing so are through further inclusion of the many segments of Syrian society, sustained inclusive rhetoric, and coordination among the opposition bodies in the absence of unification.
  • How Washington Lost Syria / By Gary C. Gambill. May 2012 (Foreign Policy Research Institute) With the failure of former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan to broker a ceasefire in Syria, Western policymakers and pundits are increasingly coming to acknowledge that the country’s descent into civil war is all but inevitable. But this begs the question of when and why it became so. Was it a foregone conclusion when the uprising against President Bashar Assad began last year? Foreign Policy Research Institute."
  • Syria : medicine as a weapon of persecution. Geneva, Switzerland : Médecins Sans Frontières,  2012.  (17 p. PDF file).  These 15 testimonies from injured people and doctors from across Syria were collected by Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders staff between January 30 and February 6, 2012. Medicins Sans Frontieres is not authorized to operate inside Syria at present and thus is unable to fully verify the information collected here. However, given the recurring nature, the consistency, and the severity of the acts described in the testimonies, MSF has decided to make them public. For security reasons, names and locations have been withheld. The testimonies reveal the following: Casualties such as multiple fractures, gunshot wounds, and electric shocks that strongly suggest a concerted program of violence and torture; The merciless persecution and repression of the injured and their caregivers; The pursuit of doctors at risk of arrest and torture for treating wounded civilians; The monitoring of hospitals by security forces, in order to arrest and torture the wounded; The resulting need for many to seek medical care provided illegally in makeshift facilities, including private homes; The lack of even basic medical supplies, including drugs, anesthetics, blood bags, and sutures in places where patients do receive care.
  •  The Syrian uprising : a focus on parties and leadership (Access restricted to State Dept. employees only).  Washington, DC : Jamestown Foundation,  [2012] Measuring the Temperature of Revolt in Syria: A One-Year Assessment / by Chris Zambelis -- SheikH Adnan al-Arour: The Salafist "Godfather of the Syrian Revolution" / by Jacob Zenn -- Who's Who in the Syrian Opposition: An Overview of 15 Key Opposition Leaders / by Sami Moubayed -- The right hand of Bashar al-Assad: A Profile of Maher al-Assad / by Wladimir Van Wilgenberg -- The Free Syrian Army: An In-Depth Profile of Colonel Riad Al-Asaad / by Francesco F. Milan -- Salih Muslim Muhammed, Leader of PKK Syrian-Affiliate PYD / by Michael Gunter -- A timeline of the Syrian uprising.
  • Health crisis : Syrian government targets the wounded and health workers. London, England : Amnesty International,  2011. [36 p., PDF file]. The Syrian authorities have been blocking and manipulating access to health care for people wounded during the unrest that has swept across the country since mid-March 2011, putting many lives at risk. They have routinely deemed those wounded by firearms as opponents of the government and treated them as detainees and held them incommunicado. Security forces have obstructed ambulances, interrogated patients, and threatened crews with violence. As the repression of protests has intensified, government-run hospitals have increasingly become dangerous places for the wounded. In some, medical professionals have assaulted wounded patients they believed were government opponents. In all, staff have been ordered to report patients with firearms injuries to the security authorities. This has presented health professionals with a terrible choice, to report patients, knowing this will lead to their arrest and likely torture, or protect their patients and risk detention and torture themselves, a fate that some, indeed, have suffered. The dangers have led people to avoid government-run hospitals and turn instead to makeshift field hospitals or private hospitals that have limited access to essential medical items, again putting lives unnecessarily at risk.
  • 'I wanted to die' : Syria's torture survivors speak out. London, England : Amnesty International, 2012. "A grim catalogue of torture, involving over two dozen brutal techniques, has emerged from former detainees describing their treatment in Syria's detention centres since the predominantly peaceful protests against President Bashar al-Assad's government began in March 2011.This report, based on interviews conducted in February 2012 of people recently detained in Syria, reveals that all the various security forces are routinely torturing and ill-treating detainees held in the context of the protests and unrest, using methods of cruelty mostly used for decades. Severe and sustained beatings are standard. Electric shock and stress position torture are common. Torture of a sexual nature is not uncommon. Threats and exposure to the torture of others are regularly cited. All were held in intolerable conditions, in tiny overcrowded cells with little access to toilets and barely enough food to keep them alive. The torture carried out appears to be part of a widespread and systematic attack against the civilian population, carried out in an organized manner and as part of Syrian government policy to crush dissent. It therefore amounts to a crime against humanity, and is still being committed daily across the country against hundreds if not thousands of detainees with impunity"--Publisher's description.
  • U.S. policy in Syria : hearing before the Subcommittee on Near Eastern and South and Central Asian Affairs of the Committee on Foreign Relations, United States Senate, One Hundred Twelfth Congress, first session, November 9, 2011.
  • Syria's Assads Turned to West for Glossy PR / By BILL CARTER and AMY CHOZICK / The New York Times. June 11, 2012.
  • Torture archipelago : arbitrary arrests, torture, and enforced disappearances in Syria's underground prisons since March 2011 / [Ole Dolvang, Anna Neistat]. New York, N.Y. : Human Rights Watch, c2012.  (PDF 78 p.)  "Since the beginning of anti-government protests in March 2011, Syrian authorities have subjected tens of thousands of people to arbitrary arrests, unlawful detentions, enforced disappearances, ill-treatment and torture using an extensive network of detention facilities, an archipelago of torture centers, scattered throughout Syria.  Based on more than 200 interviews with former detainees, including women and children, and defectors from the Syrian military, intelligence and security agencies, Torture Archipelago: Arbitrary Arrests, Torture and Enforced Disappearances in Syria's Underground Prisons since March 2011 focuses on 28 of these detention facilities. For each facility, most of them with cells and torture chambers and one or several underground floors, we provide the location, identify the agencies responsible for operating them, document the type of ill-treatment and torture used, and name, to the extent possible, the individuals running them. The facilities included in this report are those for which multiple witnesses have indicated the same location and provided detailed descriptions about the use of torture. The actual number of such facilities is likely much higher.  The systematic patterns of ill-treatment and torture documented in this report clearly point to a state policy of torture and ill-treatment and therefore constitute a crime against humanity. The United Nations Security Council should refer the situation in Syria to the International Criminal Court, adopt targeted sanctions on officials credibly implicated in abuses, and demand that Syria grant recognized international detention monitors access to all detention facilities, including those mentioned in this report."--P. [4] of cover. Summary -- Recommendations -- To the UN Security Council -- To All Countries -- To the Arab League -- To Russia and China -- To the Syrian Government -- Methodology -- I. Arrest, Detention, and Torture in Syria -- Arbitrary Arrests and Unlawful Detention -- Conditions in Detention -- Systematic Use of Torture and Deaths in Custody -- Detention and Torture of Children, Women and Elderly -- II. Syria's Detention Facilities -- Department of Military Intelligence -- Branch 291--Damascus--Branch 235 ("Palestine Branch") -- Damascus--Branch 248--Damascus -- Branch 227--Damascus -- Branch 215--Damascus -- Branch 245--Daraa -- Aleppo Branch -- Branch 271--Idlib -- Homs Branch -- Latakia Branch -- Air Force Intelligence Directorate -- Mezzeh Airport Branch-- Damascus -- Bab Touma Branch--Damascus -- Daraa Branch -- Homs branch -- Latakia Branch -- Political Security Directorate -- Mezzeh area--Damascus -- Idlib Branch -- Homs Branch -- Latakia Branch -- Daraa Branch -- General Intelligence Directorate -- Branch 285--Damascus -- Al-Khattib Branch--Damascus -- Latakia Branch -- Aleppo Branch -- Idlib Branch -- Homs Branch -- Ad Hoc and Joint Detention Facilities -- Central Prison--Idlib -- Acknowledgements.

Subject Headings (Search Terms in the Library Catalog)

Search the Library Catalog to find books, journals (in print and digital), databases, DVDs, CDs and more in all campus libraries and beyond. The following are examples of Library of Congress Subject Headings used for this research topic:

  • Syria - Politics and government - 2000-
  • Protest movements - Syria
  • Demonstrations -Syria
  • Protest movements - Syria
  • Democratization - Syria
  • Revolutions - Arab countries
  • Arab countries - History - Arab Spring, 2011
  • Arab countries - Politics and government - 21st century
  • Protest movements - Arab countries - 21st century
  • Revolutions - Arab countries - 21st century
  • Government, Resistance to - Arab countries - History - 21st century
  • Democratization - Middle East - History - 21st century

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