The Syrian Uprising: Syrian Discourse on the Social Networks, June 2012

(Institute for National Security Studies-Tel Aviv University) Udi Dekel and Orit Perlov - Since the start of the uprising in Syria, more than 15,000 Syrian citizens have been murdered, and the bloodshed has no end in sight. Some 10% of the Syrian population use Twitter, Facebook, blogs, and YouTube. They are for the most part secular, liberal, and from Sunni Muslim backgrounds, along with Kurds, senior members of the military and political opposition, and quite a few Syrian exiles (including Alawites). Some of the key political issues currently debated on Syrian social networks include the lack of agreement regarding what Syria should look like following the fall of the Assad regime. The discourse stresses that this is not an ethnic conflict, and there are no calls for vengeance against the Alawite community. Rather, the focus is on toppling the Assad family regime. Alawite sources on the web claim that the Alawite community is not in lockstep with President Assad and that the Alawite majority is intentionally silent. Social network users are concerned that the longer the struggle lasts, the more fertile the ground grows for the penetration of jihadists and other extremists. Concerns focused in particular on radical Sunni jihadists and al-Qaeda, who enter from Jordan and from Iraq, as well as Iranian Revolutionary Guard Quds Force units, backed by Hizbullah operatives. In addition to weapons and financing, Iran has also dispatched many Quds Force officers to Syria. These men, who helped suppress the 2009 Iranian demonstrations, are now training their Syrian counterparts to do the same.

2012-06-08 00:00:00

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