While autocrats are known for imposing strict regulations on speech, the intrinsic openness of digital communications sets up an interesting challenge. Bashar al-Assad has built an online campaign that is highly communicative, seemingly transparent, and spans multiple social media accounts, while attempting to transmit a rigid agenda. In the digital era, political communications lie increasingly on a nuanced spectrum between the fields of journalism, public relations, advertising, and propaganda. On this spectrum, Assad has built a pervasive and multifaceted communications campaign over the course of the Syrian crisis by leveraging both official and non-official media channels.
Za’atari refugee camp in Jordan’s Mafraq govenorate opened in July 2012 to host Syrian refugees fleeing Syria’s ongoing civil war. The camp’s first year was particularly brutal as it was grossly under equipped to provide services for the camp’s constantly increasing number of residents. The camp, which has a capacity of 60,000 people, hit its peak with more than 150,000 residents in March 2013. However, since then, many Syrians have left the camp to settle in host Jordanian communities.