Even before the conflict began, many Syrians were complaining about high unemployment, corruption and a lack of political freedom under President Bashar al-Assad, who succeeded his father, Hafez, after he died in 2000. In March 2011, pro-democracy demonstrations erupted in the southern city of Deraa, inspired by uprisings in neighbouring countries against repressive rulers. When the Syrian government used deadly force to crush the dissent, protests demanding the president's resignation erupted nationwide.
Canada is already experiencing a deadly third wave of COVID-19. But the rise of the P1 variant threatens to make the pandemic worse. Governments and the public will have to act fast to prevent further spread of a scarier variant.