Syria Then and Now
“Arab Spring” situations have an inexorable tendency to go pear-shaped (Tunisia, the first country to experience one is the lone exception, but even there the “old guard” is reportedly making a comeback, so the whole thing was essentially for nothing in the end). In Egypt, the revolution went from bringing an Islamist to power whose economic policies were either useless or were sabotaged by the organization that actually owns Egypt (the army controls 40% of the economy), back to someone who suspiciously looks like the old boss, with the only difference that he’s even worse. Nothing about the situation even remotely resembles democracy at this juncture. Getting jailed and tortured in Egypt and getting sentenced to death in mass show trials is once again par for the course.
Libya has disintegrated into a so-called “failed state” and is wracked by an ongoing civil war between the same factions that faced each other in Egypt: Islamists and the army, whereby in Libya there is also a dash of warlordism in play. The official government doesn’t even control the capital.
Syria however is arguably the worst case. The country, fought over by once again the very same types of factions (the army of a secular tinpot dicator and Islamists) has been rendered a pile of rubble in many places. We were reminded of a picture we have recently come across that illustrated this fact rather starkly. It shows a satellite image of Syria at night, before and after the civil war:
The only other places on earth that look comparably desolate in terms of lighting are either natural wastelands, the poorest regions in Africa or North Korea. Note that even before the civil war, light was concentrated in inhabitable areas – a lot of Syria consists of desert. Still, the difference is striking.
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