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Political Science
POLI 227
Rex Brynen

FEBRUARY 27, 2012:  News Story: Syrian Referendum on its new constitutional revisions. The regime says it is ushering in a period of reform and stability. The changes are limited and have “zero credibility.” Had the government gone ahead quickly with the referendum period, it may have been enough and the regime could have been proactive. After months of protests and repressive violence, the reforms may keep some of his supporter on his side and may keep “fence-sitters” on the fence, so it isn’t irrelevant from the regime’s point of view. It is not a transition to more participatory government; it is an attempt for the regime to save its power. It also had implications for Chinese and Russian diplomacy. The regime is still strong and controls almost all of the country all the time.  The attitude of the security forces is the critical element in the outcome of the Arab Spring. The single most popular person in Syria is the chief of the army. In Libya, 1/3 stayed loyal, 1/3 joined the rebels, and 1/3 defected. In Yemen, the army split. In Bahrain, they remained loyal to the regime. Would external military intervention in Syria cause military defections or would it cause them to rally on the flag?  News Story: “Friends of Syria” meeting was also held in Tunis. Not much came out of it expect calls for humanitarian access, but there is little success. There was some talk about arming the opposition. Saudis were not satisfied with the meeting that wasn’t strict enough. Saudis are open about wanting to arm the opposition.  Where are we likely to find societies with large landowners? One key factor has to do with how you get water (relying on irrigation, readily available water, etc.) Controlling the irrigation means you have political leverage.  Rural class structure is organized into a hierarchy:  Large Land Owners: Usually plantation style, monoculture, cash crop production
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