FAU Lifelong Learning Society, Jupiter
Mark Tomass, Ph.D.

Political Science

Mark Tomass, Ph.D., Adjunct Lecturer at Harvard University and a native of Syria. His research work focused on monetary crises, civil conflict in the Middle East, and organized crime. This lecture draws from his research work at Harvard University’s Center for Middle Eastern Studies and publications on Religious Identity, Informal Institutions, and the Nation States of the Near East, Game Theory Models with Instrumentally Irrational Players: A Case Study of Civil War and Sectarian Cleansing, and his book in progress that employs economic concepts to highlight the role of political entrepreneurs in the formation of the religious map of the Middle East and the civil conflicts they generated. Professor Tomass obtained his doctoral degree in monetary economics in 1991 at Northeastern University.

News and notes by Prof. Tomass
The Syrian Civil War in Historical Perspectives: Implications for the Arab Israeli Conflict

This lecture argues that reducing the Syrian conflict to an oversimplified narrative of a “Syrian tyrant killing his own people” ignores the region’s history of religious conflict and the Syrian regime’s source of power. Moreover, in delegitimizing the Syrian regime from the outset of the conflict, predicting its imminent fall, and supporting alleged “moderate” Syrian rebels, the Obama administration and the pundits who advised it added fuel to the fire and acted inadvertently against U.S. interests.

The Obama administration’s policy to weaken the Syrian regime contributed to the regime’s failure to quell the armed rebellion and encouraged the influx of international jihadists. Prolonging that failure will fracture Syria into sectarian states. The advocates of such policy expect that an emerging Sunni Islamic state in the Syrian hinterland would drive a wedge between Shia Iran and Hezbollah, thus weakening both.

This lecture argues that remaking the nation-states of the Middle East along antagonistic sectarian lines will not provide Israel with more security. Instead, it will draw the Sunni and Shia into competition to lead the Muslim world and transform the Arab- Israeli dispute over property rights into a religious war, similar to the one raging between the two sects. The presumption that when the inhabitants of the region are consumed by religious conflict, they will be less likely to pose a danger to Israel ignores the ideological basis for their opposition to Israel. Moreover, regional and international powers may continue to support rival mini-states for decades to come, eventually drawing Israel directly into wars, in a manner similar to Israel’s military campaigns in Lebanon in 1978, 1982, and 2006.

Lecture # S1R2
Register early! There is a $5 charge for registering on the day of a One-Time Lecture or Event.
  Place:Lifelong Learning Complex, Jupiter Campus
  Dates:Thursday, March 27, 2014
  Time:7:00–8:30 p.m.
  Fee:$20/member; $30/non-member