media power, Syrian history

Syria Cannot Be Seen in Isolation: It Was Once Greater Syria

More things that trouble me about the coverage of the war in Syria

As delighted as I am to see so much interest in the Syrian situation, there aspects that trouble me.

I just read an article by Joshua Landis who also writes a historical account of Syria and was quite shocked that the author, a university teacher in America, seems to be polling his readers. I say ”seems” as I am never sure what goes together on a web page; being something of a luddite. The poll asks for people to vote on a solution to the Syrian conflict, the choices include partitioning the country and various forms of disarmament.

Shouldn’t everyone make informed decisions? seemingly not! Since most people have little knowledge of the situation in Syria, is this not a dangerous exercise? Not because the result will impact on the decision making by the powers that be but because it promotes lazy thought processes and quick fixes. The man is a Director of his university department as well.

Mr Landis has lots of information on his site that inadvertently promotes seperation or partitioning as it refers to the many Islamic factions entering the fray and intervening in the infra-structure. This suggests that the idea of partitioning or seperation has a very definite appeal for the Mr. Landis, perhaps he sees this as democratic. I have though, only seen one entry and much of it is written by other authors, perhaps from inside Syria.

Is Mrs Assad’s dress sense really a justification for war?

I realise that everyone is concerned when they see gruelling images of the hurt and dying in Syria but the claim that Mrs Assad buys her clothes on the internet!! I heard this from a friend a couple of years ago and was perplexed, but to put people’s mind at rest,  Mrs Assad was dressed very casually in the Syrian schools series shown on BBC4 in 2010, suggesting she is not too opulent in her taste.

Living in a desert does not guarantee you a car

The presenter of the vlog, Syria in 5 minutes says that the Alawite muslims drive in a different traffic lanes to others. This suggests they are all rich enough to own a car which logically cannot be the case. In Syrian towns, traffic lanes are unheard of, as a version of shared spaces is in operation, people drive through traffic lights and pedestrians cross the road wherever they feel like. The majority of people do not have cars but use a shared taxi system that is the usual mode of transport in the middle east and North Africa.

And as for favouring dominant groups, well what can I say.

Britain has such an entrenched class system that favours itself, not to mention a monarchy.

Its always good to recognise hypocracy.

A short anecdote

I went to Lebanon in February and caught a shared taxi from Bekka Valley, near the Syrian border, back to Beirut. We were flagged down by a man as he and his family were packing up and leaving for Egypt from Beirut airport. They were poor and we had to leave the main road to pick up the remainder of the family and their luggage. They almost certainly would have gone overland if not for the Syrian war. Make no mistake the situation in Syria is affecting everyones’ economy as well as their ability to travel in the region.

Another picture to end with and to spruce up my anecdote. Though I think it’ll be a seperate entry as I cannot work out how to do them on the same post.


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