What are the main national and international issues in Syria today?

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What are the main national and international issues in Syria?

The Syrian uprising started as a reaction to the Arab Spring, a series of anti-government protests across the Arab world inspired by the fall of the Tunisia's authoritarian regime in early 2011. But at the root of the conflict was anger over unemployment, decades of dictatorship, corruption and state violence under one of the Middle East’s most repressive regimes. This violence isn't just a local conflict. It has ramifications on both a regional and global level.

        Many Sunnis (the majority in Syria) resent the fact that so much power is monopolised by a few Shiite families and this bitterness sparked the uprising. However, it would be a gross generalisation to say the conflict is simply Sunnis against Shiites. The opposition is made up of a mixture of radical Sunni extremists and secular groups whose motive isn't religion. Also, some communities are more supportive of the regime than the others, fuelling mutual suspicion. Therefore the groups fighting alongside each other against the regime are also turning against each other.

        In March 2011 a national issue was the way in which President Assad suppressed human rights. The release of political prisoners was demanded in protests in Damascus and Deraa. Security forces shot a number of people dead, triggering violent unrest that spread nationwide. A crackdown on his opponents wasn't enough to prevent civil war from breaking out due to the opposition organising themselves into political and military wings against the government.

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        Another national concern is the persistent drought which has devastated farming communities in north-eastern Syria. The ensuing crop failures and food insecurity affected more than a million people since 2008. Tens of thousands of impoverished farmer families were driven into urban slums and their anger at the lack of government help began to boil.

        Conflict in Syria has had a negative impact on the under-performing state-run economy. This is not helped by Syria's rapidly growing young population. With struggling private firms, not to mention an unproductive public sector, the job market looks likely to collapse under the strain. Rebels are therefore ...

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