Syria: images of a civil war

According to UN estimates about 11,000 people have been killed and many more displaced since protests began on the January 26, 2011 and developed into a nationwide uprising. Protesters demanded the resignation of President Bashar al-Assad, the overthrow of his government, and an end to nearly five decades of Ba’ath Party rule. Now, more than a year after the uprising began, the country is unraveling, with a sectarian civil war being fought between the opposition dominated by Sunni Muslims, and the minority Alawites, an offshoot of Shia Islam, who constitute the governing elite. So far Assad still has support from Iran, Russia and China. The recent UN peace plan seemed the only hope for ending the violence, but less than a day into the cease-fire, fighting and government shelling began anew, causing hundreds of deaths. The ouster of Assad and his government would do little to resolve Syria’s deep socio-economic issues, but it could bring an immediate end to the violence and lay the foundations for democracy in this torn nation. That is, of course, if the external powers involved will allow it.