To understand opposition’s failures, look to Syria’s east

The National reports: If the Syrian opposition’s failure to forge a truly inclusive national movement can be traced to one geographic area, then that failure shows up most clearly in Syria’s east. For it is here where the Syrian National Council has been unable to win over influential leaders. And without them, efforts to topple the regime will remain in jeopardy.

Known as Al Jazira, the eastern part of Syria consists of three provinces and makes up over 40 per cent of the country. The area shares a roughly 480-kilometre-border with Turkey in the north, and nearly the same with Iraq in the east, making it indispensable if the uprising were to evolve into a full-blown armed struggle under external protection (for arming of and providing safe havens to fighters).

Al Jazira is populated by Arab tribes and Kurds; both have historically suffered from the Baathist regime in Damascus. The area is also economically vital for the regime, as it accounts for 70 per cent of Syria’s oil and gas output and is a main source of agricultural and livestock products. If the Assad regime lost control here, it would suffer a heavy blow.

So why hasn’t Al Jazira shifted fully against the regime? [Continue reading…]

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