Logo Wide

How the Syrian Regime Unburdened Itself of its People

Forced migration is the destiny of the Syrians who tried to think of their country as their sole homeland
How the Syrian Regime Unburdened Itself of its People

The Syrian crisis has now passed through all political and military stages, yet despite this, some Syrian social spheres have refrained from adopting any political position on what they see as a political and social conflict.


The Syrian Armenians are a typical example. The majority of Syrian Armenians see themselves outside the Syrian political and social conflict, a vision shared by the Armenian state and the Armenian communities across the world, which consider the Syrian Armenians as a temporary immigrant group living in Syria. This has deepened the traditional way in which the Syrian regime always treated them, considering them a special Syrian group to be managed by parties outside Syria.


However some intellectual and political Armenian figures have engaged with the Syrian conflict and participated effectively and vitally in the Syrian political and cultural life. Nonetheless, these figures are simply individual cases and don’t belong to Syrian Armenian organizations or represent public opinion – in fact they are seen as defectors from their local community.


There exists a kind of independent and internal world for the Syrian Armenians that includes schools, language, charities, cultural and youth societies. These institutions create an order of social codes separated from the Syrian whole. These institutions are established and protected by the Syrian authorities, and there is a feeling among the Armenian community that removing the regime will be a threat to this internal order.


Furthermore, the political, economic and social relations between this community and the Armenian state and other Armenian diaspora communities created a kind of transborder nationalism, which means that the conscience of the Syrian Armenians is not related to their physical existence inside Syria, but rather goes beyond the Syrian border to a wider network.


If the Syrian Armenians are a typical case for our discussion, they are not the only Syrian social group in this context. The Syrian regime has created "spaces" outside Syria for all the Syrian social groups – spaces that represent "alternative homelands" that carry the burden of the community that should in fact be carried by the regime itself.


Tens of thousands of Kurds are divided between the Kurdish newly-established autonomus entity in Iraq and the suburbs of major German cities. A whole generation of them has now grown up there. They were the first point of contact for hundreds of thousands of Syrian Kurds who remained in Syria.


Over the passage of time, these two geographic entities became semi-homelands for Syrian Kurds, and an ideal place for those that remained in Syria to achieve their dreams.


Thus, the regime didn’t continue with efforts to develop the economic and institutional engagement in their regions, and money transfers were the most important part of the economic circle there. The regime has also rid itself of any political pressure that may come from this unstable Syrian community, and, as Kurds became outside any internal political and social conflict, Syria became a place for transitional residence for them.


The Arabian Gulf region formed for the Horan and Euphrates countryside what Kurdistan of Iraq formed for Syrian Kurds. Millions of Syrians lived in the Gulf region during its economic development, and they were the source of suppport for millions of others inside Syria.


The Syrian Sunni industrial and trade elites, which were a nightmare for the regime, mostly emigrated to the Gulf countries, providing a space for the regime's financial elite to occupy the Syrian internal market. This elite which grew out of a range of corrupt operations, especially after the second generation of the regime, became involved in the market.


Gulf countries took in the rich and middle classes, who were angry with the regime. Syrians in the Gulf became semi-citizens, coming to Syria as tourists, they were completely isolated from the Syrian public life. Those who joined the Syrian opposition parties, specifically from the Muslim Brotherhood, were prohibited from visiting Syria.


The Christians of Syria were involved in the Lebanese case more than the Syrian one. The Druze also considered Lebanon a window for their political exercise and Venezuela a source for their economic income.


The Syrian regime has achieved many purposes through this forced immigration. It has isolated masses of Syrian vital elites from Syrian public life, and these networks have carried the most important economic burden instead of the regime which was drowned in corruption. In fact, the income from those immigrants was a vital economic source for the security branches who were scattered at the airports and border crossings.


Most importantly, however, the long residency of millions of Syrians abroad made their relatives act as temporary residents in Syria, seeing their future in those far states as exiles.


Wasn’t forced migration the destiny for the Syrians who tried to think of their country as their sole homeland, not only a temporary place of residence? This is what has been happening for four years until this very moment.


Translated and edited by The Syrian Observer 


Helpful keywords