Dissent in the face of rampant corruption is no longer being dampened by pointing to the failures of the Arab spring

There is a bogeyman that haunts the Arab world. Its spectre looms large and sinister over Arab politics. Its arrival is threatened, like a curse, as a warning by parents to precocious children when they misbehave. Its name is Syria. A suppurating wound that will not heal, the Syrian civil war continues to bleed lives, and draw in neighbours and allies involved in their own proxy battles.

Just as it seems one front is closed, a twist restarts hostilities – the latest involving a capricious US president and an insecure Turkish one, with the Kurds in northern Syria bearing the brunt. An abrupt American withdrawal paved the way for yet another conflagration, yet another power calculus – as Bashar al-Assad extends support to the Kurds – and yet another lease of life for Islamic State. More than 100,000 people are on the move in northern Syria. And at least 750 people with suspected links to Isis have reportedly broken out of a camp in north-east Syria, raising the possibility of a new shot in the arm for the terror group.

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Monday, October 21, 2019 - 1:00am

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