Arabism, Islamic history, Syrian history

Ashshams: Syria’s Future, President al-Assad Remains but…

The Tiny Country is Encircled by Even More Hostile Forces, Syria Capitalises but Remains a Nation, the Future of Islamic Revivalism

President Bashar al-Assad will remain

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Though Britain and its cohorts appear to be succeeding in their ambition to carve up Syria and redraw its borders, they have failed to overthrow the Syrian President Doctor Bashar al-Assad.  This, nevertheless, may not be the victory the Syrian government was hoping for, as the part of Syria, that remains in it’s hands, is likely to be encircled by hostile forces.

The Kurdish/their support for the Israelis

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The Kurdish contingent seem set to acquire some territory in the North East of Syria and though Britain has reneged on its promises to the Kurds throughout the ages, this time they act as a useful tool, particularly in regard to their position on the illegal Israeli state. Signs that the Syrian Kurds support the Israelis have been there for some time, the demonstration held in Qamishli in 2006 in their favour is a case in point. The demonstration happened during the war between the Israelis and Hizb’allah, one of the Lebanese Shi’ah political parties. At the same time the Israelis attacked Gaza in an attempt to overthrow the newly elected Hamas party, which had acquired a majority in both the West Bank and Gaza. These attacks culminated in the war in 2008 that was detrimental to Hamas’s election result in the West Bank, though the party remain in power in the Gaza Strip.

The Arabic population are concerned about the situation and should be, as there is some evidence that the Kurdish are driving Arabs out of their towns in Syria as they did in Iraq; no surprise there as their antipathy towards the Arabs is huge. Another worry is that the Turkish Kurdish are involved in the colonisation of Syria. Following concerns about the PKK in the 1990s, the border with Turkey was closed in the east of Syria by the late president Hafez al-Assad, only to be re-opened in 2005 by his son Dr Bashar. President Hafez was accused of  collaborating with Turkey and the west in their suppression of the Marxist, Kurdish militias but as today’s events show his concerns were justified.

President Hafez al-Assad, his eye on the ball

President Hafez al-Assad was no-one’s fool and had his eye on the ball throughout his presidency as demonstrated by his allegiance to Iran from the early 1970s after the Alawais were accepted as Shi’ah by the Iranian Shi’ah cleric, Musa al-Sadr. In the 1980s when he successfully but harshly dealt with the Syrian Brothers amidst the turmoil of the Lebanese civil war. The Syrian Brotherhood were then allied with the Israelis, an allegiance that, despite the Israelis position on Hamas, will rear its head again as the Syrian regime stays put. The Israelis currently are active in the Golan Heights and though Syria is retalliating in an attempt to regain land lost to it during the six day war in 1967, it is unlikely to make much headway, though even if it does the Israelis are there to stay.

The Intervention of the Russian Federation Guarantees a future for Muslim nationalism as it capitalises

Russia is almost certaintly privy to any agreement that is reached among the powers and its intervention guarantees the survival of Arab or indeed Muslim nationalism, despite changes to its make-up. Under the presidency of Mr Putin the USSR or the Russia Federation has well and truly reverted back to capitalism. For the moment though, the country has its priorities right with regards to the basics as the cost of consumer goods remain high and the necessities are cheap in comparison, also there remains a commitment to full employment. Similarly Syria is capitalising, as is demonstrated by the emergence of over-priced coffee shops in Damascus and the fact that even some middle class Syrians are trying to leave the country because of inflation.

Though the war is responsible for rising prices as was the influx of refugees from Iraq in the mid 2000s, alliances don’t come cheap. To some extent President al-Assad has to accept that the communist ally of his father has been replaced by the new capitalist Russian model. Having said this, there were signs in 2006, when Coca Cola reached Bab Tuma, a Greek orthodox Christian stronghold in Old Damascus. Was Syria about to capitalise anyway? Did the west push forward too quickly?, after all capitalism is in trouble and all countries need to be involved in the salvage operation. Or was the intention to call Russia out and in so-doing set in motion the plans for the restructuring of western Europe?

The Future of Two Ideologies

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Though President al-Assad remains committed to Arab nationalism, arguably the old nationalist ideology remains submerged by the Islamic momentum, which is centuries old and the only opposing ideology in Islam. For years I referred to Islamic State as British backed (I can only look at my own country’s involvement) mercenaries and indeed it is, but it is not bereft of ideology as some claim (I negated this as it was expedient to do so in the early days, due to the confused state of the crisis).

Similarly I considered al-Qaida a western construct and to an extent still do but again its ideology cannot be doubted. Both Islamic State and al- Qaida share an ideology with the Muslim Brotherhood, they are all Islamic revivalist movements (for the want of a better term). After all the Wahabiiz of the 18th century called themselves the Muslim Brotherhood too. It must not be forgotten that the break down of Syria began fairly and squarely with the Syrian Brotherhood’s ambitions for an Islamic revolution, a vision shared by Hamas, many Jordanian Egyptian and Lebanese people, including their leaders in some cases. Turkey has to be added to the list as the west supported its claim to parts of the North of Syria, as was manifest in Aleppo and now in Idlib.

All three forms of revivalism aspire to an Islamic state, which may have been Saudi Arabia if its immigration laws would allow. The original Caliphate was problematic and many consider it as a land grab and less to do with the spread of the Islamic message of peace. As it grew there was a tacit separation between religion and state and as its administrative centre moved east to Damascus under the Umiyyads its future was affected and divisions between the east and the west of the empire might well have their source here. On top of this, ancient Raqqa was the site of a battle instrumental in the Sunni/Shi’ah dislocation, as such the territory served as a fitting place to launch the new Caliphate, though many Syrian Muslims who embrace the ideology were not ready for its harshness and the disparities  between the factions.

Iran too is an Islamic state and this flies in the face of Shi’ah Islam to and extent, though being a minority, Shi’ah Islam does require at least one dedicated state. Though Hizb’allah are supported by Iran it has no intention of forming a separate state in Lebanon as is often alleged by the west and its adversaries in Lebanon. References to the Syrian Shi’ah only serves to unsettle the position of the mystical adherents to the twelve Imams, who do not wish to live in an Islamic state. Such references are made mainly by supporters of Syria, whereas before the arrival of the western investigative journalists it was well accepted there were no Shi’ah in Syria. This may appear to be exposing a truth but neither the Alawais or the Druzes call themselves Shi’ah and its unimaginable that Syrians who adhere to the twelve Imams would confide in western journalists like Vanessa Beeley, even though she is on the side of the Syrian government. No, it is far more likely that her and others’ knowledge comes from Iran, in which case it is more sensible to let sleeping dogs lie.

I went to Russia in the summer so will take this opportunity to post some piccies. Incidentally I believe the Syrians will like the Russians, they have lots in common culturally.

Red Square

Statue of Lenin and a view of the River Don at Rostov ad-Don

Volgograd (formerly Stalingrad), photos taken at the commemoration site of the Battle of Stalingrad

A Mosque and a Church (part of the Astrakhan Kremlin) at Astrakhan

  

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