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