Israel/Palestine: The Politics of a Two-State Solution

  • Israel/Palestine and the Politics of a Two-State Solution
  • When Peace Fails: Lessons from Belfast for the Middle East

Monday, May 20, 2013

No Water Brought the Spring to Syria

New York Times columnist and former Middle East reporter Tom Friedman had a fascinating article in this Sunday's paper. He basically argued that it was the incompetence of the crony/Mafia Ba'athist regime in Syria that led to the Arab Spring uprising there in the spring of 2011. But it had some help from Mother Nature. By letting rich supporters of the ruling party overuse the water table to irrigate their farms, the water level was lowered enough to make farming impossible for the class of ordinary peasant fellahin (farmers). These had in any case greatly increased in number due to improved health care that reduced infant mortality. So this caused a major migration from the countryside to the cities and the regime did not supply any basic services to deal with the migration. Suddenly these farmers were turned into day laborers being paid a pittance just to keep from starving and with no education and no real housing. This made Syria a tinderbox ripe for revolution. And rather than trying to dampen the kindling, Bashar Assad fanned the sparks by firing on the protesters in the city of Dera'a in southern Syria. With climate change expect many more of these types of connections in the upcoming decades.

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