Modern Syria gained independence from former colonial power, France, in 1946 and went through a period of political instability before the pan-Arab and nationalist Baath party took power in 1963. Since then the country has mostly been ruled by military leaders from the Shiite Muslim sect of Alawites. From 1970 until 2000, Hafez al-Assad was President and after his death, his son Bashar al-Assad has been in charge.

Between 2011 and 2012, Syria also saw its share of what are now known as the Arab spring protests, where ordinary citizens demonstrated in their millions against dictatorial or totalitarian leaders. In Syria, the al-Assad regime repressed those protests harshly and, unlike other Arab leaders, Bashar al-Assad has not contemplated stepping down. What started out as peaceful protest has become an increasingly violent and deadly conflict, that has turned into a civil war with millions of casualties, millions more refugees and no apparent end in sight.

Media in Syria: Broadcast media - especially television - is the most popular form of media in Syria. Although in the recent past the Syrian government has paid lip service to a free and independent press, in reality most established media, whether print or broadcast, have been state-controlled or run by those with close connections to the government. They engage in what is best described as self-censorship.

Syria also has a tradition of underground media and since the Syrian revolution began in 2011, the two streams – state-owned and censored or underground – have been split. One acts as a government mouthpiece and the other more independently, although as the conflict has continued, the opposition media has also demonstrated its own bias. Most interestingly the Syrian conflict has also given rise to networks of citizen journalists who report on the conflict at great risk to themselves and who often distribute reports online.

MICT started working in Syria in 2012 and the focus has been on supporting independent citizen media that do not support violent means or ethnic or sectarian discrimination.