media power, Syrian history

Are there Lessons to be Learned from History? the BBC thinks so even if its View Seems Slightly Skewed

Lessons to be learned from history

The BBC seems intent on keeping Syria in the news, as today the one o’clock news on radio 4  carried a feature presented as: ‘Can lessons be learned from history’, whereby the Syrian conflict was compared to the Spanish Civil War, a period when ”freedom” fighters, inspired by communism/anarchism, went to Spain to combat Franco and his brand of fascism. Of course I did not listen to the item as it seems a strange comparison, after all Russia was opposed to Franco and favours President Assad. It did occur to me though, that Russia, in the 1930s, wished to extend its power in Europe through the expansion of communism.

Britain and its cohorts were not happy and argue that Russia is repeating the process as it pursues an interest in the oil in the Mediterranean sea. It is my belief that the turmoil in Syria would have been avoided if the powers that be were not intent in pursuing the old territorial goals that have prevailed for centuries.

Resources are scarce so why not advocate less consumption instead of war? No! old habits die hard but even as war plays its part in the monopoly game, it diminishes resources even further and exascerbates climate change. Obvious points but so hard to grasp for some, particularly politicians and arms dealers.

Back to the news item

The one thing that does strike me is that the disagreements that occurred between Franco’s enemies which, probably helped his victory, were spawned by differences in ideology and that the position in Syria is no different. If history is an indicator then the different factions that have invaded, inevitably do not or will not get along together even if the regime is defeated.

That lovely little country is being torn apart for no other reason other than it is possible to do so. Whatever the content of that particular news feature, there is no doubt that there are lessons to be learned from history, or at least history affords an explanation as to why situations arise. Interested now so looked on iPlayer but ”The World at One” is not available yet, maybe another time.

The history of Pan Arabism Pan Arabism refers to social and political unity through the adoption of  a shared vision for the present  and future. 

Following World War 2, many Arabic scholars felt the East should no longer be subjugated to theWest and for the most part, though there were exceptions, felt Islam was instrumental in the future of a strong Arabic bloc. Up until 1922 Islam was dominated by the Ottoman Empire, whose rulers were Sultans (kings) and origins were Turkish.

This highlights the dividing line between Arabism and Islam that proved as much of a problem in the 1940s as it was around the time of the Prophet Muhammed, when a system of Caliphates  spread the word of the Quran across a massive territory. The issue of a common identity is of particular importance when studying Syria’s recent history and its relative position to its neighbours and throws light on whether the Assad family can be regarded as part of a minority group in Syria. More about that in a later entry though.

Who are the Arabs? 

According to the author Peter Mansfield, the word Arab refers to the nomadic races of the Arabian desert, which extended up through the Arabic Peninsula to Syria and Jordan. Arabs are mentioned in the Old Testament and, post Islam, were regarded by the Jews as descendents of Abraham. I believe the Quran tells the story of Ismael who was the son of Abraham by a second wife and slave. Mother and son were turned out and walked through the desert from modern day Iraq into Saudi Arabia, the home of Mecca, where Muslims are expected to visit at least once in their lives. Prior to Islam, the Arabic peoples were Pagan or Animist and then polytheist as they worshipped both male and female Gods. These beliefs continue to an extent, through the mystical Sufists who recognise the significance of the Goddess.

I just loved this beautiful brown desert  at sunset.

I just loved this beautiful brown desert at sunset.

Tadmore is the biggest town in the Syrian desert. It is better known as Palmyra to non-Syrians thanks to the ruined Roman city, a site that is popular with visitors.

The pictures were taken in the desert when I took a rare organised tour.  It was though, only me and the taxi driver who was a friend of the family that befriended me.

There is a large Bedouin (nomadic) population in Tadmor, who work in the ruins and own businesses in the town. This entry is getting way too long so I’ll stop here.

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