by Salman Hameed
Here is an excellent protest map of Syria and the surrounding region from today's NYT. Couple of things to note. First, look at the religious and ethnically complex landscape. I had actually forgotten that there are Alawi's not just in Syria, Turkey and Iraq. Second, it appears that protests in Syria are quite widespread and not contained to only couple of major cities. Even the Kurdish areas are seeing protests. But the map also illustrates that while the recent uprisings in north Africa and the middle east may have had similar inspirations and driven by recently educated youths, the local factors are all very very different. Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Bahrain, Yemen, Syria. All different. The autocrats also come in different styles and shades. And yet, what is impressive is that people are willing to stand up to them - and that many of these regimes appear to be weaker than what many people first assumed. Justifiably, there is anxiety of what will happen next. And people are still dying in Syria, Bahrain, and Libya, and the democratic struggle is far from over in Egypt and Tunisia. Nevertheless, this is an amazing time of change in the middle east, and I hope things settle down soon.