I’m starting to hear and read stories about the ongoing collapse of the Syrian economy. From what I had heard over the last couple of years from some firsthand sources, it was never that great to begin with. The LA Times discusses here. Marketplace has a pretty good segment here.
A good analogy strikes me as one of an audio circuit with feedback. It’s what makes speakers ring, crowds stampede and permafrost melt. There is a critical mass to any dynamic situation and it seems as if the Assad regime is getting closer to it each day.
Where does economics fit specifically into a country under siege by its own autocratic government? When people have jobs and mouths to feed, it’s much harder to find a whole lot of time to go do extensive protesting, plotting and whatnot. However, start closing factories and shops and so on and you suddenly have a lot more citizens, who were likely living pretty tenuously to start with, with a lot more time on their hands and a lot more to feel outraged about.
Combine that with some indiscriminate shelling of neighborhoods and a lot of arbitrary detentions and snipers shooting at anyone who shows their faces in certain areas and you are going to get protests turn into rebellion that turns into revolution in pretty short order no matter how viciously you battle back. The Hama massacre seems to have bought the Assad regime a few decades but, in the same way that I don’t think anyone will ever let a couple of guys with box cutters take control of a plane again (writ very large), I also don’t think the Assad regime could do a massacre large enough to fit in between subduing what has started and what would provoke outright military action by some sort of international force.
If anyone wants some general background on Syria, a few recent Frontline shows do a pretty decent job. Link is here.
If you want to get up to speed with crowd-sourced, hour-by-hour accounts, there is a lot going on at jadaliyya.com. Very sad stuff right now.