Much of this content is on my front page as well
Syria: A History Without Borders
Why Everyone Wants a Piece of Me
Sadly I’ve decided to give up on this Blog, at least for the times being, to focus on the book I’ve been determined to write for the last couple of years. Thanks to the research I’ve conducted for the BLOG, I feel confident I have sufficient information to go ahead. The content of the book will focus on the history Syria shares with the invading forces, and, how this has influenced any reconstruction plans that are in the offing. I’d like to thank readers for taking an interest in a country that is dear to me, as they have given me an incentive to go on writing during the last five years.
I created the front page in the autumn of 2015, after a cease fire was declared, which resulted from negotiations between Britain (USA) and Russia, following their manifest intervention in the Syrian conflict. Since then the Syrian government has gained control of the majority of Syria’s western regions and many people are returning home. However the conflict rumbles on still, as the colonial powers, including Turkey and the Turkish Kurdish militants vie for control of the Idlib governorate in north west Syria. Meanwhile the situation on the east side of the country remains precarious.
The main Kurdish area of Syria is Qamishli and the territory to the east of it, which extends to the north east corner of the country. If the Kurdish were promised a territory by the western powers, it would be here, due to its proximity to Turkey and the Kurdish dominated regions of Iraq and Iran. The areas southwest of Qamishli are problematic, as Raqqa was predominantly Arab nationalist and has been devastated by the Islamist fighters. To the south east of Raqqa lies Hasaka, which is home to a sizeable Kurdish population and thereby hangs a tale and, indeed, a tail.
Judging from the surveys that Britain carried out in 1850 and 1908, the Kurds may well gain control of part of the region, they are, after all, a useful ally against Turkey if it oversteps the mark in northern Syria, or indeed, in Turkey itself. On the other hand, the Kurdish PKK, powerful in east Turkey, are hardly favourites of Britain and the west in general. Unlike the Kurdish region of Iraq, which remains a western protectorate, the Kurds in Anatolia are an anomaly.
Raqqa and Hasaka lie to the west of the Euphrates River, which runs through Deir Azzor, the nearest sizeable city to Syria’s oil producing area. If America wants a share of the spoils then it may come to an agreement with the Arab or Kurd factions, or take control of the region itself. In my opinion it is more likely to be the Arab faction, that oppose the regime, the Syrian Brotherhood, aka the Free Syrian Army. There are rumours of an American military base in al-Tanf, in the eastern part of the Hims governorate, south of Deir Azzor.
The Hims governorate runs from the west side of the country, east to the desert region that borders on the Iraq and Jordanian controlled desert. The Syrian Brotherhood, which is an extreme, but, popular movement, shares an ideology with the other Islamist factions that threatens to return Syria to the dark ages. The Brotherhood has a long history in the city of Hims (Homs), on the west side of the country, a city that has, for centuries, been a centre of Islamic thought. Though its more militant members are likely to have been driven out of Hims, they may well do deals with the colonial powers over the oil. This would result in further conflict, even if intermittent. Regardless of the news reports that Turkey is supporting the Islamists in northern Syria, the Syrian Brotherhood is unlikely to support the Turkish, or the Turkish Kurd taking control of Syria, thus is better served by its continued allegiance to the west; time will tell however.
It is no coincidence that Russia and Britain showed their hand in Syria at the same time. That coupled with the fact that Russia has renewed its political ties with Iran, suggests there is a some kind of plan afoot for reconstruction. I don’t believe for a minute that a nuclear war is imminent, after all NATO and the USSR have played a chess game in the Atlantic for decades and it has not resulted in all-out war. If the big powers are engaged in a similar conflict in the mediterranian Sea, off the coast of Syria, Turkey, Palestine, and Lebanon, it is more likely that they wish to tie up some of the loose ends, resulting from the settlements reached at the end of world war one, when Russia agreed to leave Iran. I’ll expand on the chess game later.
Dispelling Some Myths and Making Sense of the Situation: The BBC
There are disturbing documentaries, about Syria, coming from the BBC, at the moment. I say disturbing as, the BBC is a powerful and influential entity, and, as the Syrian conflict reaches a climax, one has to suspect that there is an ulterior motive behind the Corporation shelling out so much propaganda in the docu format.
My interest was fuelled, when Mary Beard, a feminist historian, used the ”royal we”, on BBC 2, when discussing the possible of rebuilding Palmyra, implying that Britain will have a say. Palmyra is a historical site, near the town of Tadmor, in east Syria. In 2015, the Russians began rebuilding the Roman ruin after Islamic State was driven out of the area. Unfortunately, we are led to believe it was retaken by the Islamists and devastated yet again.
There was an outcry among the British archeological club about the murder and the beheading of the principal curator at Palmyra, by the Islamists in August 2015. Even so the British media took pains to inform us that he was a Ba’ath party supporter. I got to know some of Tadmor’s inhabitants, when I spent some time there in 2005, and loved both the town and the ruin.
I’m all set to write to my MP about Britain’s renewed interest in Syria with an extra question regarding funding. I have a sneaky feeling the BBC may be receiving money from the Clinton foundation, as I’ve never seen the corporation supporting the American opposition, or indeed, any American government, to the extent that it is at the moment. Of course, when president Trump wins the mid terms, the wind could begin to blow in a different direction.
Anyway, a friend watched the first of three programmes about the Assad family and asked for my opinion as to what might be true and what might be propaganda. One particular point interested me, and that is the allegation that president al-Assad, shortly after coming to power, released members of the Syrian Brotherhood, from prison, on condition they would go to Iraq and fight the west. The theory wasn’t new to me, but it does strike me that this is counter-intuitive. The late Iraqi president Saddam Hussein and the late president Hafez al-Assad had fallen out long before the Iraq invasion.
There was conjecture that the Sunni Muslims invited the Islamists into Mosul, in northern Iraq, to help protect the oil from the Shi’a and the Kurds, if true however, surely it would have been after the death of the president, when it became clear that the west was supporting the Iraqi Shi’a to take control of the country. There is the further point that, if the Assad government is so in support of Iran, why would it send Islamists to fight the Iranian backed Iraqi Shi’a? On top of this, in the mid 2000s Syria granted asylum to around two million Iraqi refugees.
One report on the internet, claims the Iranians had come up the Suez Canal to reach Syria. Not a chance, as Iran has been blockaded since 2015, when the all out war against South Yemen began. Britain, which had voted to bomb Syria, had sent war ships to the Homez Straits, in the Arabian sea, only a couple of weeks before the vote.
It’s possible to go overland from Iran to Syria but Iran has its own problems, thus I don’t believe it has a significance presence in Syria. To alienate Syria’s Sunni majority at this stage, would be madness, as so many of its number support the Syrian Ba’athist govt and its ideology. Another obvious point is, that if Iranians came through the Suez canal the Israelis would start a nuclear war.
Another news item broadcast by the mainstream media and on the internet, claimed that America had fired a cruise missile into Syria from a warship just off the coast of Latakia. I was surprised because the Russians are purported to have a naval base off the coast of Tartous, less than 30 miles south of Latakia. Tartous borders on Lebanon, and is a stones throw from the Israeli controlled Palestine.
There have been rumours regarding a Russian naval base for decades, but I went to the small island off the coast of Tatous when I was there in 2005, it is a half hour boat trip, but I saw no evidence of a base. There is oil in the Mediterranean but the conglomerates would have a battle to mine it, and have not done so far, presumably because of the complicated politics involved. Remember BP signed an agreement with the PLO to excavate the oil, as far back as 1977.
America might have left its position in the Homez straits and sailed through the Suez Canal, but would have had to pass the Russians to get to Latakia. Latakia is very near Turkey’s Antakya, a seaside resort, which forms part of a tourist trade, that is vital to its economy. Both America and Russia might have a presence in the mediterranean, but to fire missiles so near to each other is a big risk. As I said above, I don’t believe a nuclear war is imminent or that either president or the British prime minister harbour a death wish.