Saturday, September 24, 2011

Empire Marches On, To Establish Compliant Vichy Governments


"Since the beginning of February (2011), much international attention has been focused on the so-called Arab Spring, a term coined by the Western media and applied to the series of uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and then Syria. Unlike Tunisia and Egypt whose regimes’ continuity depended on Western backing, the Syrian regime drew its support from the loyalty of its armed forces, the Ba ‘th party, political groups affiliated with the Ba ‘th, and the Arab nationalist ideology the Syrian regime has stood for since the end of the French mandate, if not before. Of all the Arab states Syria believes it has a special mission in the Arab World. It considers itself the heartbeat of Arab nationalism. This idea rests on historical factors and modern ones as well.

Historically, Damascus served as the capital of the Umayyad Caliphate for almost a century. The Umayyad Caliphate prided itself on having been the most unadulterated Arab state in history, and controlled a sprawling empire stretching from central Asia in the east to Spain, Andalus, in the west. Damascus was the administrative center of this empire, and Syrians have drawn much inspiration and pride from that. The famous Umayyad Mosque, built in the beginning of the 8th century A.D. still stands in the heart of Damascus.

Modern factors inspiring Syria’s role in the Arab world today pertain to the rise of the idea of Arab nationalism. The idea of Arab nationalism might have begun in Beirut toward the end of the 19th century, but by WWI it had become centered in Damascus. The Damascus Protocol which formed the basis of Sharif Husain’s secret negotiations with the British government in 1914-15 was put together in Damascus. The resolutions of the Syrian Congress of 1919 which were communicated to Woodrow Wilson’s King-Crane Commission were passed in Damascus. It is important to know that the Syrian Congress of 1919 was representative of all the people of Greater or Geographical Syria with little exception. Yusuf al-’ Azmeh, Defense Minister of Amir Faisal, son of Sharif Husain, was the first Arab defense minister, perhaps the only one, to die in battle fighting French imperialism at the gates of Damascus in July 1920. These factors have inspired and influenced Syria’s domestic and foreign policy long before the Ba’th party came to power in 1963. If we fail to take them into consideration, then we fail to understand Syria’s behavior. These very factors are also at play today in the current confrontation between the Syrian regime and its opposition, backed by the Western powers, namely the U.S., France, Britain, Italy, etc."


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